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British Columbia Providing C$45M More for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Buses; Contributing to the BC Hydrogen Highway

The BC Hydrogen Highway.

British Columbia is providing C$45 million (US$40.6 million) more toward the production of 20 hydrogen fuel cell buses and accompanying fueling stations in Whistler and Victoria. Premier Gordon Campbell made the announcement at the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells 2007 international conference and trade show in Vancouver.

The Premier had earlier called for a federal-provincial partnership to invest C$89 million (US$80 million) for the hydrogen buses and fueling infrastructure as part of a larger strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Other elements of the strategy include greenhouse gas emission standards for all new vehicles sold in BC and a low-carbon fuel standard. (Earlier post.)

In November 2006, the Province dedicated an initial C$10 million of the hydrogen project funding to the first phase of the project with a Request for Proposals that called for the development of a pre-production hydrogen fuel cell bus.

BC Transit is now in contract negotiations with the top proponent for this initial bus and the subsequent production phase. This second C$45-million allocation, which comes from the federal Public Transit Capital Trust, will go toward production of the 20 hydrogen buses and to develop hydrogen fuelling stations in Whistler and Victoria.

BC Transit issued a Request for Proposal last week calling for the development of the fuelling stations. The remaining $34 million of the overall funding will be used by BC Transit to operate the fleet for up to five years, bringing the total commitment to the fleet to C$89 million.

Our goal is to see the world’s first fleet of fuel cell buses on BC roads by the end of 2009 to showcase BC’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the potential of hydrogen technology as an energy solution. This funding will ensure that the hydrogen highway that will run from Whistler to Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria will become a reality. We will continue our work with our partners in the US to extend the Hydrogen Highway from Whistler to San Diego by 2010.

—Premier Campbell

The ultimate goal of the hydrogen bus project is to demonstrate for the first time the integration of hydrogen fuel cell buses into the regular operational service of an urban transit system, allowing monitoring of operations, maintenance and fuelling over a sustained period.

British Columbia joined with five western US states to partner in the new Western Regional Climate Action Initiative (WRCAI) earlier this month. The purpose of the WRCAI is to identify, evaluate and implement ways to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the region and to achieve related co-benefits.

Premier Campbell also announced $155,000 in government funding to support the development of a new undergraduate fuel cell systems design laboratory at the Institute for Integrated Energy Systems at the University of Victoria. The new facility, a first-of-its kind lab in the province, will help prepare future graduate engineers for employment with BC hydrogen and fuel cell companies. In addition, British Columbia’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Strategy will receive $50,000 for continued outreach and communications about hydrogen and fuel cell technology in action in BC.




One should not confuse Green with $reen. As the home of Ballard, the government of B.C. is part of the larger conspiracy to foist hydrogen on the consumer over the bludgeoned body of the cheaper EV. (please pardon the hyperboly, every one in a while I feel the urge to sound like every other blogger in the world)


Good news, I just hope that they realize that they're going to need to invest money in getting hydrogen from water(cleanly).


If they can produce a Vectrix electric maxiscooter with a hundred-mile range at freeway speeds, I'm sold.


Wow... just think of how much more GHG could have been avoided if that $89M had been invested in hybrid electric buses. Probably could have been 200 buses instead of 20.


Cervus: I've been eyeballing the Vectrix as well. My current e-cycle can't go on the freeway since it's limited to 70kph. The specs and quality of the Vectrix all look really good with the exception of range. The other vehicle I'd love to get my hands on is the Venture 1. (


hydrogen is not that dead end, that many believe

lets be happy about every alternative being explored and lets see what will win the race


In province with more than enough electricity via the extensive hydroelectric system EVs or PHEVS would have undboutedly been a better choice. However, part of being a politician is supporting local industry and fuel cell technology isn't entirely discredited. Eventhough fuel cell tech isn't the best choice for BC, it's still potentially viable in other countries (China). The Olympics are in Vancouver in 2010 which is likely the sole reason this infrastructure is being supported. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are showy and easy for Joe Blow to notice. 2010 is supposed to be the paragon of attainable sustainability and provides a showcase for many green technologies. As such showcasing this technology will provide a case study for the implementation of a hydrogen fleet. That's not entirely useless.


$2 million per bus. Bargain.


Fuel cells make a lot more sense in a bus fleet than they do in cars. You can centralize the fuel generation for efficiency. The H2 doesn't leak out of the tanks before it can be used. An already very heavy vehicle doesn't gain weight with lots of batteries and thus destroy road surfaces. Before you heap scorn on the Canadian government for supporting fuel cells, perhaps you should have a look at what your own governments have been doing on these issues.


The problem is that battery-electric buses are hugely more efficient than hydrogen FC buses. A typical city bus will only travel 120 miles in a day, easy peasy for overnight battery charging and vastly cheaper than going the hydrogen route.

The Russians actually had capacitor driven buses that stopped at various points along the route to charge up via overhead current collectors at designated charging stops. The Chinese are now implementing a similar system on some routes. There's nothing to stop that being done with batteries, thus keeping the batteries smaller and even cheaper.



I'll go one further - why waste all those batteries and capacitors? Buses mostly run in a city. In the 70s and 80s, a city in Eastern Europe where I lived at the time had trolley-buses. Yes, like a street car, but not on tracks. It was a regular bus, and had a long boom like a street car, and ran on the electrical grid in the city. Advantage over a street car is that you don't need to mess up the street with tracks, and a bus is more agile than a street car on a busy street. Only downside is overhanging wires.


Hi Peter,
When I was in Vancouver a few years ago, they had the very buses you metion. They had a moving boom arm connected from the bus roof to the overhead cables so it could swing into bus stops whilst still being connected to the cables. I'm sure they are still running such buses. I expect support for Ballard is the main motive for this extra money, but having a renewably powered hydrogen bus route up to whistler would certainly be a good test bed of new technology in a real worl working environment. I would imgine on economic terms it will be pretty costly though. Cheers, Jim


I think they're planning on using the buses on suburban routes, where they don't have overhead wires for the trolley buses. I don't think they could run trolley buses at highway speeds. They could have a hybrid, that connects to the overhead lines, once it's off the freeway though. I think it's to do with Ballard though, and trying to look green to the rest of the world for the Olympics.


Vancouver still has overhead electric trolley busses, and until recently they were all vintage models, but are now slowly being replaced by modern electric trolley busses. This highway would be impossible to maintain overhead wires on since there are many areas prone to rock slides and other various hazards, besides just ruining any sort of view as you drive the sea to sky... Battery tech would probably be cheaper today, but back when these plans were being hatched batteries weren't as 'ready' as they are now, so the only workable solution to run busses on this highway using hydro-electric power was by splitting watter and using hydrogen fuel cell busses. One would hope that they'd throw a few battery electric ones in for good measure, but I guess the local battery manufacturing plants haven't invested in as much lobbying and PR as the local fuel cell plant.



You are in the same demographic as myself and a whole
lot of others. Just waiting, not holding my breath,
untill they can get these products to the masses.

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