CaFCP proposes two Centers of Excellence in California for fuel cell buses to accelerate commercialization; $100M program
The California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) has published “A Road Map for Fuel Cell Electric Buses in California: A zero-emission solution for public transit”. The roadmap suggests the steps necessary to move from the pre-commercial phase of fuel cell electric bus (FCEB) deployment and manufacturing (2012-2015) to the early commercial phase (2016- 2017) to a commercial model in 2018 and beyond, including the requisite fueling infrastructure.
This road map suggests a specific strategy for the implementation of two Centers of Excellence in Northern and Southern California, each of which would cost approximately $50 million and would operate 40 FCEBs. The two centers would allow for economies of scale sufficient to achieve 2016 DOE/DOT targets and begin to overcome the primary barriers to market: the capital cost of the vehicles and the cost of fuel, CaFCP suggests.
Transportation-related air pollution will need to be reduced by 90-95% below 2010 levels by 2050 if these regions are to meet national health-based air quality standards as required by federal law, and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation will need to fall by 85%. Both are necessary to meet California’s 2050 climate goals. The magnitude of the changes needed in the coming decades will require the complete transformation of transportation to zero or near-zero technologies by 2050. If California is to meet its emissions reductions goals it needs to begin developing the commercial markets for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), including buses, now.
...California has gained considerable experience with the development and demonstration of zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) technologies through its zero-emission bus (ZBus) program. Fuel cell buses have consistently demonstrated superb operating performance in their ability to maintain sustained power and acceleration in a wide spectrum of operating conditions, smooth and quiet operation, and unmatched fuel efficiency.
...These environmental benefits and policy goals can only be achieved, however, if buses are available at capital and operating costs that meet the budgets of transit as well as state and federal agencies. Achieving these targets is possible with the deployment of fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs) at production volumes rather than through small demonstration fleets, an approach supported by the funding model for zero and near-zero emission buses in the federal transportation bill “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21).—“A Road Map for Fuel Cell Electric Buses in California”
Currently, 15 FCEBs operate in revenue service in California among several transit agencies, including AC Transit and other San Francisco Bay Area transit agencies; and SunLine Transit. Despite improving performance among FCEBs, capital and operating costs remain a barrier to commercialization, the roadmap notes.
The capital cost of a full-size FCEB is currently more than $2 million (assuming a fuel-cell dominant configuration that meets performance targets—significantly higher than 2012 DOE/DOT FTA performance, cost, and durability targets for fuel cell transit buses primarily due to customized designs and low bus-manufacturing volumes.
Based on industry input, the $1 million target can be achieved through a limited production of FCEBs of the same design, while the $600,000 target requires commercial volumes, according to the roadmap.
|DOE/DOT FTA targets for FCEBs.|
Source: “A Road Map for Fuel Cell Electric Buses in California”. Click to enlarge.
In addition to the capital cost of the FCEBs, hydrogen fuel cost is an issue as well. Having a high throughput of hydrogen is important to achieving a fuel cost per mile competitive with conventional buses, the roadmap notes.
Centers of Excellence. The roadmap proposes establishing two Centers of Excellence in California with 40 buses per fleet, suggesting that, according to industry input, production runs of 40 FCEBs will be large enough to reduce the capital cost per bus to or below $1.0 million and fleet size will be sufficient to enable a fuel cost per mile competitive with a conventional bus.
The key elements of these centers are:
- A single fuel cell hybrid bus configuration at each site, manufactured under a serial production run of 40 units over one to two years.
- Vehicles that comply with transit agency requirements and are operated in normal revenue service on scheduled runs.
- A 12-year operating period.
- A single hydrogen fueling station with throughput sufficient to achieve a fuel cost per mile comparable to conventional buses.
- Vehicles introduced in the 2015-2016 timeframe.
- Regional training and education for transit staff and community stakeholders.
Assuming a 12-year operating period; a cost of $1 million per bus; maintenance facility upgrades of up to $2 million; mid-life powerplant overhauls for all buses of $80,000/bus; and infrastructure capital costs of approximately $5 million per site, the cost for each Center of Excellence would be $50.2 million including rolling stock and infrastructure. In contrast, the cost of purchasing a fleet of forty conventional buses is $19.2 million (vehicle cost only). sources.
The roadmap makes a set of recommendations to both California and the Federal government in support of such a program. In addition, CaFCP members will work with local, state and federal stakeholders to develop a funding model that supports the road map and implementation of the Centers of Excellence.