Glasgow City Council's ambition for a zero emissions vehicle fleet has taken a major step forward with a £805,000 funding award from Transport Scotland that will allow the council to convert 23 winter gritters to dual fuel hydrogen.
A new strategy has set out proposals that all of the council's 2000 vehicles should by emissions free by the end of 2029. It is intended that only electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, across all sizes and classifications, will be used to deliver crucial city services by 2030.
The fleet, which includes everything from street sweepers and mini-buses to refuse vehicles and gritters, is currently aging and in need of an overhaul to meet the demands of a modern, data-smart city. Most council vehicles are currently powered by diesel and the annual fuel bill is in excess of £5m.
The renewal of the vehicle fleet is seen as a vital part of the council's response to the impending climate emergency and the expectation that the council becomes an exemplar organisation in the fight to reduce the city's carbon emissions.
By taking a bold lead towards a zero emissions fleet, it is anticipated that a local authority the size of Glasgow can spark the development of a Scottish market for hydrogen-powered vehicles. This in turn will help to drive down the costs with emerging technologies and support the efforts of other transport providers to modernise their own fleets.
The new fleet strategy was initially presented to councillors at the Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Committee on Tuesday, August 27 and has now received formal approval from the council's City Administration Committee.
Councillor Anna Richardson, City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, expressed her delight with the award of £805k award from the Switched on Fleets Fund that allows early progress to be made with the new Fleet Strategy. She believes the new strategy shows the council is committed to addressing the challenges of the climate emergency.
Councillor Richardson said: "To tackle carbon reduction in Glasgow effectively, it is essential the council gets its own house in order. Both transport providers and environmental campaigners are looking to the council to take a lead toward carbon neutrality for our fleet.
"Electric vehicle technology is evolving rapidly and will be able to support a wide range of tasks undertaken by our vehicles. But the green technology for heavier vehicles is still emerging and so we have the opportunity to influence the market for ourselves and other major transport providers.
"The funding award from Transport Scotland will help to ensure larger dual fuel hydrogen gritters are up and running in the early part of next year. These dual fuel vehicles should act as a significant stepping stone towards emissions-free gritters and refuse trucks as part of our wider strategy for a zero emissions fleet.
"A wide range of discussions is currently underway on we best secure green hydrogen for our vehicles and move away from traditional sources of energy. We are absolutely focused on ensuring renewable energy drives our fleet in future."
The Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, praised the council's efforts to move towards a zero emissions vehicle fleet.
Mr Matheson said: "Glasgow City Council is yet again leading from the front in taking steps to improve air quality and through their new plan to decarbonise their existing fleet of vehicles by 2029. The 2019/20 Programme for Government outlined our commitment to phase out the need for new petrol or diesel cars in the public sector fleet by 2025 and for all other vehicles by 2030.
"Glasgow's new fleet strategy directly responds to this ambition and supports our Climate Change Plan alongside our ambition for Scotland's air quality to be the best in Europe. Transport Scotland officials have been working closely with Glasgow City Council to support this strategy and I'm delighted we are providing £805,000 from our Switched on Fleets Fund to convert over 20 gritters to dual-fuel hydrogen.
"We will continue to work in partnership to ensure that we can collectively maximise the economic opportunities for all of Scotland through this crucial transition to low carbon transportation."
The overhaul and upgrade of the council's fleet is due to begin with new electric cars being introduced in early months of next year along with the tower vans used to repair the city's lighting columns. New electric road and precinct sweepers will be deployed next year also.
The fleet strategy also provides the opportunity for new technology to be installed within vehicles that will to boost the operation performance of vehicles, sharpen the scheduling for collection routes and ultimately improve recycling rates.