A £10m deal has been agreed for the delivery of 10 hydrogen-powered buses in London to help reduce pollution and CO2 emissions in the UK capital, representing a significant initial commitment to the hydrogen vehicle industry.

Of the traditional red buses to be built by US manufacturer ISE Corp, 5 of these will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells and the remaining 5 will burn hydrogen in conventional internal combustion engines.

London mayor Ken Livingstone announced the signing of the deal and said, “London is now the first city in Europe to commit to a hydrogen bus fleet of this size, which will match traditional diesel buses in terms of performance. This represents a huge step forward from the previous hydrogen trials in the capital and is an important step towards my target of having 5% of all public sector fleet vehicles powered by hydrogen by 2015.”

Although the standard diesel buses this short fleet will replace would normally cost only £130,000 each, it is felt that the overall value of the hydrogen buses, which produce no emissions beyond water vapour, was worth the extra cost and the hydrogen vehicle industry needs an initial commitment from cities such as London to help drive down costs in the future.

The buses, which will negotiate the bustling and busy roads on the capital, will be operated by FirstGroup and join a fleet of 8,000 in London, many of which are diesel hybrids.