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Zero Emission Fleet vehicles For European Roll-out

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - ZEFER (Zero Emission Fleet vehicles For European Roll-out)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-02-28

The ZEFER project brings together partners across the hydrogen supply chain to deploy fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) into applications where a viable business case can be made for their operation. This aims to demonstrate the feasibility of hydrogen mobility from a technical and financial perspective, and to hence accelerate the roll-out of vehicles and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure across Europe. To achieve this, two approaches have been combined to optimise the operation of the full supply chain:

1. An early business case for FCEVs – FCEVs are deployed into high-mileage fleet applications, such as taxi, private-hire and emergency services, where their operational advantages (e.g. long ranges and quick refuelling) can be maximised. The vehicles are also operated in city centres (Paris, London and Brussels) where their zero-emission credentials can be monetised, either by avoiding pollution/congestion charges or by accessing privileged taxi licenses.

2. Captive fleet model for hydrogen refuelling stations (HRS) – fleets of FCEVs in taxi and private hire operations can be linked to specific HRS because of their relatively predictable driving patterns. This can provide an anchor demand at stations, stabilising the business case for HRS operators. The economics of HRS operation can also be improved as high mileage fleet applications require significant volumes of hydrogen to support their operations. Increased revenues can therefore be drawn from the station which can ultimately reduce the cost of hydrogen over time.

The concerted activities in the ZEFER project will allow the consortium of 16 public and private partners to:

• Deploy 180 fuel cell passenger cars in fleet operations across three major cities in Europe – Paris (60), Brussels (60) and London (60).
• Rigorously test the performance of FCEVs in high-mileage fleets, travelling millions of kilometres over the project period.
• Prove that fleet operation of FCEVs is a viable business model for high mileage fleets in urban areas, bringing potential savings to the fleet operator when the externalities of choosing a zero-emission vehicle over an incumbent diesel vehicle are considered.
• Gather data on the performance of FCEVs as high mileage fleet vehicles to provide an evidence base that these vehicles are reliable and suitable to be deployed in major cities around Europe, and across the world.
• Increase the utilisation of HRS to demonstrate the viable business models for early HRS supported by captive fleets.
• Test the performance of today’s best-in-class hydrogen refuelling station technology under significantly increased loading compared to current levels. This will help to highlight the reliability of the stations and their ability to meet the demands of a growing number of FCEVs on the road.
• Communicate the benefits of FCEVs in fleet operation through widespread dissemination of the technical and business modelling research results. Decision-makers will be targeted to initiate conversations in local authorities and to foster acceptance of FCEV fleets.
Key progress during the 3rd period of the project includes:

• 120/180 ZEFER vehicles have been delivered as of the end of February 2021 in Paris and London. This figure is 37 more than compared to the end of Period 2 of the project and includes 14 additional vehicles deployed by STEP and 23 by GTC.
• The ZEFER vehicles in service have been operated rigorously in everyday operation and have amassed over 5.15 million kilometres as of February 2021. The vehicles have performed exceptionally well, with fleet drivers and operators noting a positive experience with the technology.
• HRS in France and the UK used by ZEFER vehicles have dispensed 121 800 kg of hydrogen as of December 2020. The deployment of the STEP and GTC fleets have had a marked impact on the utilisation of the stations and has contributed to the Orly station (Paris Sud) becoming a flagship facility as the most highly utilised HRS in Europe.
• The project-average availability for H2ME and ZEFER stations is currently 95.4% (including H2ME and ZEFER vehicles). However, project-specific availability is expected to be higher as the above figure accounts for the teething period of newly commissioned HRS in H2ME.
• The majority of HRS upgrades have been completed in the ZEFER project, including significant work in Period 3 on the Zaventem station in Brussels. One upgrade in Paris is still pending but a mitigation plan has been put in place to allow funding to be redistributed to upgrade the logistic chain across the Parisian network. This will maximise the impact of FCH JU funding and will improve the supply chain for at least 3 key stations in the city.
• An extensive data set is being compiled on FCEV and HRS operation. This has led to the identification of key learnings for future deployments and specific recommendations for highly utilised FCEV and HRS.
• Expectations and experiences of fleet drivers and operators have been closely monitored throughout Period 3. Interviews with fleet and HRS operators have also been conducted to better understand the barriers to commercialisation and to devise recommendations for the sector to overcome these.
• Dissemination work has been on-going throughout Period 3. Work has included a thorough update of the project website and brochure. Social media has also been used as a key dissemination tool throughout Period 3. This has proved successful, especially during the COVID pandemic, with visits to the website increasing and the project gaining more impressions/retweets on twitter.
• Effective coordination has allowed the project to manage risks to deployment and to find exciting alternatives for sites/deployments which have been deemed unfeasible within the ZEFER project due to regulatory/legislative barriers.

Key next steps are:

• Re-launching taxi activities in Paris and London once governmental restrictions on COVID-19 are eased and the taxi market shows signs of recovery.
• Finalising and implementing the mitigation plan for the third deployment plan and deploying the last 60 vehicles.
• Increasing the availability of the HRS in the project to reach the target availability of > 98%.
• Finalising plans for the upgrade of the logistic chain in Paris and monitoring timelines to ensure the delivery of the upgrades within the timescales of ZEFER.
• Working towards the completion of HRS upgrades in Paris and supporting upgrades outside of the ZEFER project in London (OZEV funded).
• Furthering analysis on the performance of HRS and vehicles to understand where technical improvements are required by industrial players.
• Publishing detailed business case and customer value proposition analysis, including detailed recommendations for the commercialisation of the sector.
• Increasing outreach and dissemination activities to key audiences such as city regulators and taxi operators to increase the replication of the business case in other European cities.
• Continuing the exchange of best practices and lessons learnt between partners in the project and with the wider hydrogen sector.