Cologne launch for major European hydrogen bus project

The formal launch of a €125million collaborative project to deploy 144 hydrogen fuel cell buses and seven major hydrogen refuelling stations across Europe took place in Cologne last month.

The projects represent a step change for the hydrogen bus sector, moving from a technology demonstration stage to a day-to-day offering for zero emission public transport, according to those behind the plan.

The hydrogen fuel cell buses are designed to offer the same operational flexibility as diesel buses, without any harmful exhaust fumes to address the twin problems of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from public transport.

The scale of deployment is designed to enable European bus manufacturers to achieve the economies of scale which are needed to allow fuel cell buses to compete with other

zero emission modes of public transport, according to project developer, Cambridge-based Element Energy. It adds that the project will demonstrate how hydrogen refuelling stations with large daily demands can be commercially viable.

“We are delighted to have helped start this project which has the potential to transform the hydrogen fuel cell bus sector. Previous projects have proved that hydrogen fuel cell bus technology is technically ready and able to meet the needs of public transport operators on all routes,” says Ben Madden, director, Element Energy. “This project delivers a step-change in scale which allows manufacturers to start to deliver vehicles at a commercially

plausible price. Its success will kick start the commercial roll-out of hydrogen fuel cell buses to assist in improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gases from our public transport systems.”

The JIVE project which is behind the hydrogen bus deployment is supported by a €32million grant from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, a public-private partnership aiming at accelerating commercialisation of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies, coordinated by Element Energy, and is based on a partnership of public transport providers who will work together to procure the buses and refuelling stations from European suppliers. Buses will be deployed in five European countries: Cologne, Wuppertal and Rhein-Main in Germany; London, Birmingham, Dundee and Aberdeen in UK; South Tyrol in Italy; Riga in Latvia; and Slagelse in Denmark.

The MEHRLIN project supports the refuelling facilities, supported by a €5.5million grant from the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility (Transport) programme managed by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency.