Wrightbus CEO Buta Atwal met the Minister and explained the turnaround of the company since its takeover in 2019 and how their current and future products and services can have a positive impact on the environment and embrace the ethos of Green Growth, announced by Minister Poots in June 2020.
The Executive’s approach to Green Growth will focus on three key themes; Climate Action, Clean Environment and Green Jobs.
Speaking after the meeting and factory tour of Wrightbus, Minister for Environment Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots, said:
“I am keenly aware of Wrightbus’ ambition to grow the hydrogen economy in Northern Ireland and pleased to learn more about their ongoing drive to grow Northern Ireland’s hydrogen economy and create green jobs. Their ambitions here extend well beyond hydrogen buses. They also want to increase the production and distribution of hydrogen fuel, using Northern Ireland’s abundant indigenous wind resources with the final aim to stimulate development of a green hydrogen sector that can operate without government support.
“This will create jobs, improve air quality and build a prosperous economy across Northern Ireland, which aligns very well with the Executive’s Green Growth Strategy, which my Department leads on. The drive to net zero has become even more urgent given the stark findings of the IPCC report published earlier this week and Wrightbus are one of many innovative companies seeking to accelerate Northern Ireland along that path.
“With the UK hosting COP26 in Glasgow in the coming months, the focus for UK government is to accelerate action towards achieving the goals of the Paris agreement and it is companies like Wrightbus that are leading the charge.”
Wrightbus is leading the way in zero emission transport with its world-first hydrogen double-decker bus, the Hydroliner, which it first launched in Aberdeen in January this year. The buses emit only water vapour, with no harmful pollutants. Three zero-emission Hydroliners have been in service in Belfast since last December – which were the first of their kind in Northern Ireland - after the firm won a contract to supply Translink with 20 Hydroliners and 80 of its recently-launched battery-electric Electroliner double decker buses.
In addition to Aberdeen and Belfast, Hydroliners are currently also in operation in London and Dublin, with a fleet expected to launch in Birmingham later this year. So far, its hydrogen buses have prevented an incredible 500,000 kg of CO2 from entering the atmosphere after clocking up more than 300,000 miles.
In July 2021, Wrightbus announced they had won additional orders in the UK and Ireland for its rapid charging double-decker bus, the Electroliner, which has a charge time of just two hours 45 minutes in comparison to the industry standard of between four to five hours.
Ryze Hydrogen, a producer and distributor of green hydrogen and sister company of Wrightbus, is seeking to develop hydrogen infrastructure in Northern Ireland to support the growth in the Hydroliner buses to Belfast over the next few years.
Wrightbus and Ryze Hydrogen Chief Executive Officer, Buta Atwal, said: “We were delighted to welcome Mr Poots to our Ballymena factory and to show him first-hand the ground-breaking work we’re doing at Wrightbus to further zero-carbon transport and quickly develop the wider hydrogen economy. We’re incredibly proud that the buses and technology we’re developing in Ballymena is helping to lead the way globally.
“We firmly believe that building a strong hydrogen economy in Northern Ireland will stimulate a post-Covid green recovery, creating skilled jobs while also helping with the global push towards net zero.”