Bus travellers in Cork were the first passengers to journey on a ‘green bus’ in Ireland on Monday 25th March. With zero carbon emission footprint, the biomethane-powered bus is a viable alternative for Ireland’s public bus fleet. The biogas bus has been part of national trials looking at green bus performance, air quality impacts and CO2 emissions, among other criteria. Biomethane is a clean, renewable gas that is 98% methane. Also known as green gas, it can be used interchangeably with conventional fossil-fuel natural gas, meaning it can be added to the existing gas grid. A growing number of European capital cities now run their buses on gas, resulting in lower carbon emissions and better air quality in cities. Biomethane also contains virtually no particulate matter (PM) making it an ideal fuel for extensive use in urban areas.
The Transport Subgroup of Energy Cork has been advocating the benefits of adopting compressed natural gas to biomethane for public transport fleet technology for a number of years. The Ireland’s Greenest Bus Fleet proposal, developed by the Energy Cork Transport Sub-Group with the support of Cork Chamber, Bus Éireann, Gas Networks Ireland, Cork County Council, Cork City Council and University College Cork, envisages the transition of the Cork city bus fleet (at least 120 vehicles) on a phased basis from the current diesel vehicles to compressed natural gas (CNG)/ Biomethane fully renewable gas fuelled vehicles. With the initiation of green gas injections to the national grid the possibility of a fully renewable and carbon neutral bus fleet and technology is now a real possibility that holds unprecedented benefits from an energy resilience, circular economy, waste to energy, clean energy and environmental perspective.
Cork Chamber, Energy Cork and Gas Networks Ireland, with MaREI at UCC, were delighted to recently host Ireland’s First Zero Carbon Biogas Bus Journey from Cork City to Ringaskiddy on Monday March 25th. The bus journey, utilising a biogas fuelled bus used in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s trial of low emission bus technologies in Cork and Dublin brought together a range of stakeholders from across Cork and nationally. In Cork we are awaiting the publication of the Cork Metropolitan Transport Strategy which will map out the future strategy and investment in Cork’s public and sustainable transport infrastructure and services. Faced with EU deadlines to reduce harmful greenhouse gases and following Budget 2018, Ireland will no longer purchase diesel buses for public transport as of 1st July 2019. With this Energy Cork Transport subgroup are continuing to advocate the opportunity in transitioning to a low emission public transport fleet which also gives effect to national waste management policy. This journey successfully received broad media coverage owed to the increasing business and public interest in adopting clean technologies and transitioning to a low carbon society. Ireland’s First Zero Carbon Bus Journey was also mentioned in the Climate Action Committee’s proceedings on March 27th.
The Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport has been carrying out technology trials of hybrid diesel, fully electric, electric hybrid, compressed natural gas (CNG) and biomethane powered buses in Cork and Dublin in recent months to review performance. The green buses have been travelling key routes in the urban bus transport network, but have been weighted rather than carrying passengers. This technology is tried and tested with examples of biomethane bus fleets in Stockholm, Lille and Nottingham to name just a few cities. Cork Chamber and Energy Cork are keen to see this technology supported by the National Transport Authority and hope to see these buses rolled out in Cork in the not too distant future. We are awaiting the conclusion of these trials.