Greenport plan

Hydrogen car factory hope for Aberdeen

Hugo Spowers and revolutionary Rasa car

One of the world’s most innovative cars could be built at an 800-job factory in North East Scotland if the region secures green freeport status, it has been claimed.

Riversimple – which has developed the pioneering Rasa hydrogen vehicle – is in active talks about locating a 150,000 sq ft manufacturing plant in Aberdeen.

Representatives from the company will join parliamentarians and business leaders at a private business breakfast in the Palace of Westminster today, hosted by Banff & Buchan MP David Duguid – as the region takes its Green Freeport campaign to London.

The Riversimple plant would produce more than 5,000 vehicles per year. The company is currently beta testing a small fleet of Rasas, with a new car also under development for production.

The company’s founder, Hugo Spowers, believes the two-seater eco coupe is “the most energy efficient car on the planet”, and the BBC’s Top Gear has billed it as “the car which wants to save the world”.

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Oxford University trained engineer and entrepreneur Mr Spowers – who was made an MBE in June – has visited North East Scotland to scope out potential sites after being invited by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

Riversimple has since signed a letter supporting the North East Scotland Green Freeport bid, saying the tax status, together with the world-leading energy sector supply chain already based in the region, would “significantly increase” the likelihood of the company investing.

“One of the locations we are considering for the establishment of operations is the North East of Scotland,” the letter states.

“We are in discussions with regional partners about the possibility of establishing a manufacturing plant…encouraging the clustering of supply chain companies and other OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) within the hydrogen sector.”

The Scottish and UK governments are working together to create two green freeports in Scotland by next year. The special economic zones will offer tax breaks and lower business tariffs to stimulate investment.

As many as 32,000 jobs could be supported in an £8.5billion boost to the regional economy, if the joint Aberdeen and Peterhead bid was successful.

The North East Scotland Green Freeport consortium – led by the Port of Aberdeen, Peterhead Port Authority, Aberdeen International Airport, and the region’s two local authorities – has vowed to use the designation to place the area at the heart of the global energy transition.

The Riversimple letter adds: “Aberdeen, as a leading hydrogen city, and the surrounding region is attractive to our business on account of the hydrogen initiatives already underway.

Backer: David Duguid

“These include the rolling out of hydrogen-powered buses and commercial vehicles operating in the city, the joint venture partnership between the city council and BP to deliver the Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub and the Acorn Hydrogen project at St Fergus.

“North East Scotland Green Freeport, with its stated aim of making the North East of Scotland the Net Zero Capital of Europe and a global pioneer of hydrogen energy, would make the region even more attractive to us, increasing significantly the likelihood of our investment into the region.”

The engineering of Riversimple cars is unique compared to other vehicles on the market. The hydrogen in the fuel cell goes via a proton exchange membrane, where it interacts with oxygen to generate water and electricity. The electricity is then routed to the motors located in each wheel. These motors are compact, lightweight, and provide four-wheel drive to the vehicle.

When the car stops, the kinetic energy that is commonly lost as heat gets caught as electricity. This electricity flows into a bank of supercapacitors at the front of the car as the car slows.

The Riversimple Rasa has a 300-mile range while emitting just water and delivers more than 200 mpg equivalent. It has a top speed of only 60 mph, but because of the car’s clever construction, it reaches that pace in under 10 seconds.

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