Zero emission bus deployment plans gain momentum

Scottish cities Aberdeen and Dundee are at the forefront of ambitious plans to accelerate the deployment of zero emission hydrogen buses. Working closely in partnership with Birmingham and London, a tender for the bulk procurement of fuel cell buses has been issued on 28 April 2017 by Transport for London (TfL).

This procurement activity is part of the JIVE project, an EU funded project deploying 139 new zero emission fuel cell buses across nine cities, the first deployment of this scale in Europe. TfL is inviting potential suppliers of fuel cell buses to join a framework for the supply of single and double decker vehicles to cities across the UK and potentially further afield.

Fuel cell buses can offer an attractive zero emission solution for public transport in cities. They do this without imposing any significant new operational constraints on bus operators, as they can meet all daily bus duty cycles and can refuel in a short refuelling window. As such, once their costs reduce through economies of scale, they will be a valuable tool in the fight against local pollution and the removal of carbon dioxide emissions from road transport. Furthermore, fuel cell buses have the potential to kick start the use of hydrogen for mobility, with other applications in passenger cars, vans, trucks and even trains expected to follow. The bulk procurement of buses will significantly increase yearly order volumes in Europe and will play a key role in reducing costs and bringing this technology closer to a commercial reality.

The project is coordinated by Element Energy. Ben Madden, Director of Element Energy said: “The launch of this joint procurement exercise is an important milestone for the JIVE project and the fuel cell bus sector as a whole. Taking a coordinated approach to purchasing large numbers of these buses should deliver increased standardisation and significant cost reductions, allowing the cities to realise their ambitious zero emission bus adoption plans. We are delighted to have helped start this programme and look forward to continuing to support the partners in delivering the project.”

The JIVE (Joint Initiative for hydrogen Vehicles across Europe) project seeks to deploy 139 new zero emission fuel cell buses and associated refuelling infrastructure across five countries. JIVE will run for six years from January 2017 and is co-funded by a 32 million euro grant from the FCH JU (Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking) under the European Union Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation.

The overall objective of JIVE is to advance the commercialisation of fuel cell buses through large-scale deployment of vehicles and infrastructure so that by the end of the project, fuel cell buses are commercially viable for bus operators to include in their fleets without subsidy, and that local and national governments feel empowered to regulate for zero emission propulsion for their public transport systems.

JIVE will introduce new fleets of fuel cell buses into urban and regional bus operations at an unprecedented scale. This will be made possible by multiple cities and regions collaborating in joint procurement processes, allowing large orders to be placed with single bus suppliers. The procurement activities are organised into three clusters and by clustering geographically, it is possible to provide common specifications for the buses, which is essential to unlock the economies of scale.

The regions and cities involved are Wuppertal, Rhein-Main, Cologne region (Germany), London, Birmingham, Dundee, Aberdeen (United Kingdom), South Tyrol (Italy), Riga (Latvia) and Slagelse (Denmark). The project consortium comprises 22 partners from seven countries: Element Energy Ltd, Aberdeen City Council, Birmingham City Council, Dundee City Council, EE ENERGY ENGINEERS GmbH, Energy Universe Europe ApS, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, HyCologne – Wasserstoff Region Rheinland e.V., Hydrogen Europe, HySOLUTIONS GmbH, London Bus Services Ltd, West Midlands Travel Ltd, PLANET GbR, RebelGroup, Rigas Satiksme Sia, Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH, Südtiroler Transport Strukturen AG, ThinkStep AG, Trentino Trasporti S.p.A., Union Internationale des Transports Publics, Verkehrs-Verbund Mainz-Wiesbaden GmbH and WSW mobil GmbH.