Chong advises caution on hydrogen bus initiative

Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING, Sept 11: The state government has been advised against “going all out” too soon in the introduction of hydrogen-fueled buses to improve public transportation.

Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen said hydrogen technology for vehicles had yet to fully mature, and it would be subjected to many adjustments and innovations.

He is worried that it might be a waste of money if the state were to buy hydrogen buses now while the world continues to look for breakthroughs in hydrogen fuel cell technology.

On top of purchasing these buses, the state would also have to spend millions on facilities to convert water to hydrogen cells, he added.

“A hydrogen bus would cost some RM1 million each, while conventional buses cost between RM400,000 and RM500,000. The state should focus on acquiring more conventional buses instead.

“I have to send out a caution to the state government not to embark on such a flamboyant but not practical project. At the end of the day, this may come out to nothing,” Chong told reporters after a price-check visit to a local supermarket chain here today.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg announced yesterday that three hydrogen buses were expected to ply the roads of Kuching by March next year. These buses form part of a research initiative to improve the public transportation system.

Abang Johari said this after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Sarawak SEDC and Foshan Feishi Automobile Manufacture Co Ltd, China, for the supply of the hydrogen buses.

The pilot project would also feature Sarawak Energy building and operating a hydrogen refueling station in Bintawa near here. The building of the facility, in partnership with the country’s leading industrial gas supplier Linde Malaysia, is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2019 and will be the first dedicated hydrogen refueling station for transportation in South-East Asia.

The emission-free bus programme is part of the state’s vision to ensure its public transportation system is run on clean energy, in tandem with current global trends to protect the environment. — DayakDaily