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New Bus ReFuelling for European Hydrogen Bus Depots

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NewBusFuel (New Bus ReFuelling for European Hydrogen Bus Depots)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2017-03-31

The NewBusFuel project set out to understand whether it is possible to refuel very large numbers of fuel cell buses at large hydrogen depots of the future. The project was conceived to address concerns that costs, practicalities or regulatory barriers may prove problematic in achieving the vision of 100% hydrogen fuelled public transport systems.
This question was addressed by asking 12 bus operators to carry out design studies into hydrogen refuelling systems which could provide hydrogen for the very large fleets of buses which they may use in future. These operators worked with experts in the production and handling of hydrogen for transport applications to develop the design studies. In each location dedicated design teams were formed to produce detailed engineering designs, together with costs and assessment of the performance of the stations. The designs were carried out to comply with today’s codes and standards around hydrogen systems and also meet the needs of the operators. The results of the design studies were analysed by the project partners (WP3) and then aggregated and anonymised to produce publishable findings from the project which can help influence future developments of hydrogen bus depots.

The high level conclusion of the project is very positive. In each location, it was possible to produce a design which met the local specification for refuelling capacity, refuelling speeds, reliability and did so within the local regulatory conditions. This is an important result is it proves the technical viability of the hydrogen option. Furthermore environmental analysis demonstrates a number of routes to ultra-low carbon hydrogen using these systems (depending on the production option used).

The prices of hydrogen assessed varied widely between sites, which demonstrates the fact that hydrogen price is likely to be fairly site specific and dependent on the local cost of energy, as well as proximity to other sources of hydrogen. The project demonstrated that with the scale implied by these large bus depots prices for hydrogen ranged from below €5 to just over €10/kg. Four stations showed prices of hydrogen below €6/kg which was the target to achieve parity with the cost of fuel for diesel buses.

The other issue identified on a number of sites related to the footprint of the stations, which tended to be significant. Whilst low footprint solutions were identified (generally based on liquid hydrogen), the options involving production of hydrogen on site did lead to large land takes which will be problematic in dense urban depots. This suggests a research need for more work on making hydrogen systems more compact particularly for these large scale systems.

Many more technical and practical conclusions were drawn on the project and are summarised in the project’s two main public reports. These reports have been circulated widely via the project website, dedicated presentations at bus and hydrogen industry events and via targeted outreach to groups with an active interest in hydrogen buses.
A number of impacts can be expected from the NewBusFuel project:

• Many of the operators in the project are now developing plans for expansion of their fuel cell bus fleet and will use this expansion to take the first step towards the creation of the refuelling station designs developed during NewBusFuel. 6 of the NewBusFuel partners are involved in the JIVE project which is deploying the next fleet of fuel cell buses for Europe
• The hydrogen industry partners are already using the results of the project to refine their large scale station designs and also to develop commercial offers based on the station designs developed during the project. This can be seen in the number of industry players tendering for hydrogen refuelling stations at bus depots, evidence of a thriving European sector.
• Perhaps the most important impact of the project is that we now have definitive evidence that the refuelling of hydrogen at a large scale is technically feasible and also an understanding of the conditions under which it can be an economic proposition. This allow bus operators and project developers across Europe to move to the next stage of large scale hydrogen fleet development without fear that the hydrogen refuelling systems need be show-stoppers to their ambitions.
• The reports from the project are design to help future project developers and bus operators to better set up and then design their hydrogen bus and refuelling projects. It is expected that the data in the studies will ensure more efficient and timely designs for future hydrogen bus projects, as well as enabling more rapid assessment of the feasibility of making a hydrogen choice as part of regions zero emission bus strategies.
Project overview