A fleet of hydrogen-powered double decker buses that is claimed to be the world's first is due to be launched in Scotland later this year in what is seen as a major step forward in the use of hydrogen as a fuel.

First Aberdeen is to run the 15 buses and Aberdeen City Council said earlier the new vehicles will further underline the city’s role as a pioneer in hydrogen.

The hydrogen double deckers were due to be on the streets by the summer but the coronavirus pandemic pushed back the timetable.

A date is now to be set for the autumn for the launch of the groundbreaking buses.

It comes as Ryse Hydrogen chief and Wrightbus owner Jo Bamford welcomed the news that the Scottish Government has renewed its pledge to support the hydrogen industry.

In a response to a report from its advisory group on economic recovery, the Scottish Government has recommitted to publishing its hydrogen policy statement and action plan this year.

READ MORE: Scottish clean energy firm secures UK Government hydrogen fuel stations contract

Mr Bamford, who earlier this year announced his vision to deliver 3,000 state-of-the-art hydrogen powered buses across the UK by 2024, said: “The Scottish Government has shown strong, global-leadership on hydrogen, and it is great to see the renewal of this commitment and ambition in its response to the advisory group on the economic recovery report.

“Without doubt, taking steps to unlock Scotland’s hydrogen economy will create new jobs today and many more over future years.

"Later this year Wrightbus will introduce a fleet of world-first hydrogen double decker buses in Aberdeen, and Ryse Hydrogen have plans to build green hydrogen production facilities in Aberdeen and Glasgow.

"It is essential that strong partnerships exist between the the Government, local authorities and business to unlock investments like these, so we also welcome the Scottish Government’s plans to establish ‘Green Business Champions’.”

READ MORE: Glasgow hydrogen bus plan unveiled

The new £8.3million project has been funded by Aberdeen City Council, the Scottish Government, and the European Union (FCH JU), with an investment of about £500,000 per vehicle.

The buses are as efficient as electric equivalents, with refuelling taking less than 10 minutes and offering a greater range.

Water is the only emission from the vehicles which reduces carbon emissions and the new buses continues to contribute to the city’s commitment to tackling air pollution.