Sarawak chief minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has revealed that the state will soon be testing hydrogen-powered buses, a move that he said will enable the state to tap into its renewable energy resources, The Star reports.

Johari said the “abundant” water resources in Sarawak’s hydroelectric dams could be used to produce hydrogen as a clean source of fuel for vehicles. “It has been the ambition of the state government to upgrade our public transport system by using our clean renewable energy resources. I have confidence that hydrogen is the energy of the future.”

“There is a move worldwide to transform energy from fossil fuel to clean energy,” he said during a recently MoU signing ceremony between the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and China’s Foshan Feichi Automobile Manufacturing for the supply and delivery of hydrogen fuel cell buses to the state.

Kicking off the project will see three prototype buses that’s scheduled to arrive by March 2019. All three units will be used in a pilot project in the state capital, and Johari said the project will help educate the public about the feasibility of hydrogen-powered vehicles.

“We have seen the success of these vehicles in other countries like China and Germany. For Sarawak we will try with three buses first. Sometimes the public is skeptical so we have to educate them,” he said.

According to SEDC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Husain, the bus pilot project was part of the state government’s hydrogen fuel cell research and development programme, which includes the setting up of a plant to produce hydrogen to power the vehicles.

“The emission-free bus programme is part of the state’s long-term plan to ensure that Sarawak’s public transport system will run using clean energy, in tandem with the worldwide trend to protect the environment,” he noted, adding that his firm will provide the necessary support to ensure the success of the pilot project.

“The MOU is another step in the state’s journey towards a hydrogen economy, whereby the entire transport system will be run on hydrogen produced from clean energy sources,” he added.

Earlier this year, Johari rejected the Land Public Transport Commission’s (SPAD, now part of the Ministry of Transport) idea of using diesel-powered buses in favour of clean, emissions-free buses. “The higher cost of electric buses means that SPAD might allocate fewer buses for Kuching but the important part is that we are looking to cut urban pollution and become more environmentally friendly,” he said.