Fuel Cell Buses: Clearing the Way for Zero Emission Transport

Tue 8, October 2019
09:15 - 10:45 CET

Fuel cell (FC) electric buses represent a key zero emission transport solution which helps tackle climate change challenges and clean cities air. 

Through the JIVE and MEHRLIN projects, some 300 fuel cell buses and their hydrogen infrastructure will be deployed in 22 cities across Europe.

The overall objectives of the JIVE initiatives are 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.

The projects have the following aims:

  • Achieve a maximum price €625k-€650k for a standard fuel cell bus thanks to economies of scale – or lower
  • Foster joint procurement processes, encourage manufacturers to develop and refine their fuel cell bus offers
  • Validate large scale fleets in operation and encourage further uptake, showcasing that fuel cell buses represent a viable alternative for public transport authorities, offering the same operational flexibility as diesel buses but without the harmful tailpipe emissions
  • Deploy largest hydrogen refuelling stations in Europe and operate them at near 100% reliability
  • Demonstrate routes to achieve low cost renewable hydrogen
  • Share data and best practice to support the adoption of the technology and provide evidence of the suitability of fuel cell buses for wider roll-out

The workshop will have speakers with firsthand experience discussing why they have invested in this technology, their first lessons and best practices as well as the next steps of deployment.

Lionel Boillot, Project Manager, FCH JU - Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, Belgium.
Lionel Boillot, Project Manager, FCH JU - Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, Belgium.
Jens Conrad, Head of department alternative technologies, Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH, Germany.
Oyvind Michelsen, County director for planning, business development and environment, Akershus city council, Norway.
Melanie Pedeutour, project manager, Pau Béarn Pyrénées Mobilités, France.
Erwin Stoker, Program Manager Public Transport Development, OV-bureau Groningen Drenthe, Netherlands.
A greener Europe
Akershus fylkeskommune, Communauté d'agglomération Pau Béarn Pyrénées, Hydrogen Europe, OV Bureau, Regional Verkehr Köln
English (EN)
Address: Mont des Arts, 1000 Brussels

Session summary

This session was dedicated to sharing experience with fuel cell buses from public transport operators, public transport and regional authorities

The county of Akershus in Norway set the context: transport representing 75% of the county emissions, there is a need to act now. The public transport authority in the area surrounding Oslo has ambitious targets to tackle transport emissions: all buses need to be emission free by 2028. The 10 fuel cell buses to be procured as part of the JIVE2 project will be part of the solution, and green hydrogen produced from hydropower will be used. Safety and having mature technology are key elements to take into account when considering fuel cell technologies. 

In the region of Cologne, a total number of 50 fuel cell buses will be deployed shortly and operated by RVK. The average bus fleet of RVK travels 250-300 km/day which makes it very suitable for fuel cell buses given their longer range similar to diesel. 10 to 20t of by-product hydrogen are available in the region, enough to power the fleet (and many more buses!) at an affordable price. For this type of innovative technology, main challenges are related to the upfront costs or lack of knowledge or political commitments. Ways forward are to educate decision makers, remind them of their climate goals and offer fuel cell buses as one of the solutions. Other key aspects are to seek funding and showing OEMs that there is enough demand.

The city of Pau, 182,000 inhabitants in South West of France, will deploy eight 18 m fuel cell buses in its new Bus Rapid Transit route. The public transport authority has used an innovative procurement strategy, based on performance criteria, out of which the fuel cell bus option (together with the infrastructure) was selected. This bus is much more than a bus. It contributes to an extensive transformation of the public space. It is the backbone of a major urban project with the overarching goal of promoting the use of public transport over passenger cars.

Ambitious plans are in place in Groningen-Drenthe, in the Northern part of the Netherlands. This region, known for its gas extraction, will stop gas extraction by 2022 and strives to become a hydrogen hub – this includes large plans of green hydrogen production (from wind and excess hydropower), hydrogen transport, storage and use in different applications including mobility. Two fuel cell buses are in operation since 2018 and have travelled over 65,000 kms. 20 more buses are planned by end 2020. A separate tender was open for the supply of green hydrogen, which will be provided to the operator at the competitive cost of 3.5€/kg.

Take away message

Fuel cell buses offer a flexible zero emission alternative to decarbonise transport and clean cities air, that can fulfil different operational needs. More and more European cities are embracing the technology, making hydrogen suitable in different environments: presence of hydropower/strong political commitment (Akershus); cheap by-product hydrogen/front-runner operator (Cologne region), public space transformation with the deployment of a Bus Rapid Transit System with fuel cell buses (Pau); turning a whole region into a hydrogen valley, integrating fuel cell buses (Groningen-Drenthe)



Additional information

Oyvind Michelsen:

“We don’t see competition between battery electric buses and fuel cell buses, the best suited vehicles will be used according to the needs”.



Erwin Stoker:

“We are looking at hydrogen for regional and long distance public transport. Our fuel cell buses have a range of over 300 km. On top of buses we are also investing in garbage trucks, taxis, street cleaning vehicles, and investigating the option of fuel cell trains”.



 Jens Conrad:

“If you are interested to deploy this type of technology, there is a lot of knowledge already available. Come and talk to experimented PTOs and project partners such as the JIVE project who will be happy to share their experience”


 Mélanie Pedeutour:

“Deploying fuel cell buses does require higher investment compared to other zero emission solution. however in the long run the total cost of ownership (TCO) is equivalent (after 15 years of operation) .”



Lionel Boillot, moderator:

”Fuel cell buses are in use by several operators from Norway to Italy in various conditions, and more and more cities express interest to deploy them as part of zero-emission transport solutions for their inhabitants”

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  • Posted by: Petr Simonik
    On: 03/10/2019 - 19:54pm

    Request participation

    Dear organizers. I already sent the email with my contact informations. Please, can you add me to the session? Thank you.
    • Posted by: Sabrine SKIKER
      On: 03/10/2019 - 21:28pm

      Registration confirmed

      Hi Petr, You should have received a confirmation email in the meantime. Thanks, Kind regards and see you next Tuesday!
  • Posted by: Simone Matarazzi
    On: 02/10/2019 - 16:48pm

    Request participation

    . I got a message that an other workshop was completely booked after the closing day. Could I please apply for this workshop?
    • Posted by: Sabrine SKIKER
      On: 02/10/2019 - 17:34pm

      Registration acceptation

      Dear Simone, thanks for your interest. You are welcome to the session as we still have space availablr. Please send an email to info@fuelcellbuses.eu so that we have your contact details. See you next week!