Ryse Hydrogen outlines why the UK Government should support the roll out of hydrogen fuel cell buses

2nd October 2019

On Tuesday 1st October 2019 Executive Chairman and Founder of Ryse Hydrogen delivered a speech at Conservative Party Conference outlining why the UK Government should support the roll out of hydrogen fuel cell buses in the UK. You can read his full speech here.



Good afternoon and welcome everyone. 

My name is Jo Bamford and I’m the Founder of Ryse Hydrogen. As the sponsor of this fringe I’m going to tell you a little bit about why I’m here today before handing over to Robert who will introduce the event before interviewing our headline act – our Energy and Clean Growth Minister The Right Honourable Kwasi Kwarteng MP. 

Aside from the B word, looking at the fringe guide here, and the news cycle recently, there’s one other issue that seems to be dominating the agenda – climate change. And what business, society and Governments can do about it. 

That’s why I’m here before you today. Two years ago I founded Ryse Hydrogen – a start-up that will deliver green and affordable hydrogen to heavy duty transport, starting with buses. Not the ones the Prime Minister likes to make out of cardboard boxes, but proper ones!  

We have a very simple vision. To totally decarbonise the entire UK bus fleet by 2030. And I want to briefly explain why this is needed, and indeed eminently achievable with vision and commitments from this Government, particularly the Minister’s Department. 

Transport accounts for 27% of our emissions in the UK, the largest of any sector, and whilst we’ve seen significant reductions in the power sector, progress in transport is stuck in the slow lane. 

If we’re to have any hope of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, we need to act fast, and need to focus particularly on transport emissions. 

But how can we do this in the least disruptive way possible, without costing the earth, and – looking at the Minister – whilst ensuring the grid network doesn’t collapse in the process. 

Now, I’d be lying to you if I said I grew up hell bent on tackling climate change. I’ve spent my life in manufacturing, selling diesel diggers and tractors around the world. But it’s this experience that drove me to set up Ryse. 

I saw a viable business opportunity. And one that would free heavy duty transport from its reliance on diesel within ten years. 

Whilst there’s been great strides in developing electric vehicle technology, we risk overlooking hydrogen as a practical, here and now solution to tackling emissions and improving air quality. And that’s the message I want to get across today. 

Hydrogen is the quickest and easiest route to decarbonising heavy transport.

It can improve air quality in our cities. The only output is water vapour.

And a lower cost, with less disruption than electrification – for cities, for the grid network, and for end users. 

And if we act now, the UK could develop a world leading hydrogen economy with boundless export opportunities. 

We’ve already got a contract with TfL to supply what will be the world’s first hydrogen double decker buses next year.  

These fuel cells are smaller and lighter than batteries so more suited to heavier modes of transport travelling longer distances.

Refuelling hydrogen buses takes just five minutes and you don’t need to upgrade depots with new grid connections and charging infrastructure. This will mean you don’t need to build new power stations to meet the charging needs of the 30,000 buses in the UK. 

And at the same time – if you’re using wind to power electrolysers – you’re giving offshore wind farms a guaranteed revenue stream, meaning they can be subsidy free, sooner. And if you power these electrolysers at night, you making efficient use of wind power when everyone is asleep and not using electricity. 

That’s why I’m convinced that we can use hydrogen to decarbonise the UK bus fleet within ten years. Our modelling shows that if you reach scale, fuel cell buses will be cheaper than battery electric buses and 12% cheaper than diesel buses by 2030. 

And once you’ve cracked buses, you can move on trucks, trains, ships and planes. 

That’s why this is a huge industrial opportunity for the UK too. 

We lead the world in offshore wind, so could utilise this resource to become a European hub for green hydrogen production. 

We could also attract leading manufacturers, building the next generation of buses and trains for global export. 

But we need to act now. Other countries like China are looking to corner the hydrogen market. Their father of EVs Wan Gang, who is vice-chairman of the national policy advisory body, is now backing hydrogen.

So, to develop a world leading hydrogen industry here in the UK, and to start making a significant indent into our transport emissions – our biggest emitting sector – we need strong policy signals, and visionary leadership from Government. 

The Government should commit £250m a year to a hydrogen bus fund – this will eliminate the  £150,000 difference in cost between existing diesel and hydrogen fuel cell buses, as well as funding infrastructure upgrades.

Minister – I appeal to you to show the leadership and vision required to realise this fantastic industrial and environmental opportunity. 

That’s enough from me. Over to Robert.