Ballymena bus maker Wrightbus has been awarded £11.2million in government funding develop and manufacture low-cost hydrogen fuel cell technology for buses.
A hydrogen centre of excellence will also be created at the site in Northern Ireland.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced the £54 million funding on Monday for innovative green projects creating the next generation of electric trucks and hydrogen-powered buses.
They will secure nearly 10,000 jobs across the UK and save millions on tonnes of carbon emissions.
Three projects in Cwmbran, Warwickshire, and Ballymena were each awarded millions of pounds in funding.
The government hopes investing in new technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells, will help cement its position as a global leader in automotive technology and support the country to build back better and greener from the pandemic by helping to meet the UK’s climate goals. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The UK is leading the world by developing cutting edge technology that will help to tackle climate change and lead to a green, competitive future for our automotive supply chain.
These projects will not only help accelerate the wider application of greener technology in lorries and buses, but will also help generate the high-skilled jobs to level up communities across the UK while ensuring we build back greener from the pandemic.
This funding announcement builds on the recent launch of the Government’s national Bus Back Better strategy and the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, both of which aim to accelerate the shift to zero emission vehicles and decarbonise the UK’s transport networks.
Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said: “As we look to reduce our carbon emissions, strive towards our net-zero goals and level up right across the UK, the whole transport sector will need to embrace new innovative technology such as green hydrogen and these projects are a fantastic example of doing just that. “I’m proud to see the UK leading the way in the global transition to zero-emission vehicles. In the next decade, we’ll continue to be at the forefront of their design, manufacture and use as we build back greener.” Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis said: "Northern Ireland and the local economy thrives on innovation, manufacturing and technological advancements, leading the charge in allowing us to reach our ambitious goal of a net zero future by 2050.
"With a landmark investment of £11.2 million this will enable Wrightbus to become a centre of excellence for zero-emission technology in the heart of Ballymena.
"This is outstanding news for the people of Northern Ireland, protecting more than 1,000 skilled jobs and creating more than 3,000 additional jobs over the next 10 years. This will continue to level up our local economy, allowing Wrightbus to continue producing the next generation of world-leading hydrogen buses."
Vicki Hawthorne reports: