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SunLine Transit receives $12.5M for five H2-powered buses, H2 generating station in Coachella Valley

California Climate Investments is awarding a $12.5-million grant to SunLine Transit Agency for five new zero-emission New Flyer hydrogen fuel cell buses. The grant also supports the development of the largest hydrogen fueling station in the US of its kind, from Hydrogenics, using electricity and renewable energy to generate clean hydrogen.

The grant is part of the state’s effort to use proceeds from the climate change cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gases, including a widespread effort to promote low carbon transit such as hydrogen-powered or electric buses throughout California, with a special focus on serving disadvantaged communities.

This project represents an important step toward commercializing both heavy-duty zero-emission fuel cell vehicles and clean, renewable hydrogen fuel Fuel cell vehicles are part of a comprehensive portfolio needed to achieve California’s long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals, and this project furthers this technology advancement while providing much needed air quality benefits to communities in the Coachella Valley.

—California Air Resources Board (CARB) chairman Mary D. Nichols

SunLine will operate the new buses daily on two regular routes from Indio to Mecca/Oasis that provide a 98% coverage of disadvantaged communities. The project will collect 12 months of performance data to be used to help further commercialization of fuel cell technology.

New Flyer is the only North American transit bus manufacturer offering all three types of zero-emission propulsion systems including hydrogen fuel cell-electric, battery-electric and trolley-electric buses.

Hydrogenics Corporation is a world leader in engineering and building hydrogen technology, providing hydrogen generation, energy storage and hydrogen power modules to customers and partners around the world.

California Climate Investments is a statewide program chartered with applying billions of cap-and-trade dollars to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the economy and improve public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. The cap-and-trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution.

California Climate Investment projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling and much more. At least 35% of these investments are made in disadvantaged and low-income communities.

SunLine Transit Agency is a joint powers authority formed in 1977 to operate the Coachella Valley’s public transportation system. SunLine offers fixed route bus service and curb-to-curb paratransit for the mobility impaired. Its fixed route and paratransit vehicles travel more than 4 million miles per year, covering more than 619 bus stops located throughout a 1,120 mile-service area, carrying approximately 4.82 million riders.

The SunFuels alternative fueling station offers compressed natural gas and hydrogen for SunLine and the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.



"electricity and renewable energy to generate clean hydrogen" Electricity from the grid including coal fired power from Nevada and Central Utah? I think that this application would be better suited for more efficient Battery Electric Buses as Proterra buses are available with up to 350 mile range and the New Flyer Battery Electric buses must be capable of at least a 200 mile range.

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SunLine Transit also has a BYD 40' Battery Electric Bus (324kWh, 155mile range).

The New Flyer hydrogen fuel cell buses are Battery Dominant Fuel Cell Hybrid Bus (FCHB).
Not sure about the exact specs but this 40' New Flyer Excelsior XHE40 bus should have a 80 kWh Lithium-Ion battery and a Hydrogenics “Celerity Plus” 60 kW fuel cell (actually 2 30 kW units). Since this is a series hybrid the Fuel Cells will charge the battery at optimum efficiency. Also, the bus can be operated in electric only mode, so a significant part of the route will use battery electric power and the 80 kWh battery can be charged at night.

This "range extended" FCHB has a lower initial cost and should be cheaper to operate than earlier Fuel Cell buses.


for SunLine and the public 24 hours a day

There ya go, once fleets use it they can provide cars with it.

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Despite what Toyota and Honda think FC cars may not be the future. A good example is to look at the current Toyota Mirai FC system which weighs roughly 230 kg (5kg H2 storage weighs 144kg, the NiMH battery weighs 29 kg, and the Fuel Cell weighs 57kg) and has roughly 60 kWh.
A GM Bolt EV battery weighs 435kg. The 2018 Formula E battery built by Lucid motors using Samsung 2170 batteries will weigh 250kg and develop 54 kWh ( So Battery EV are almost as energy dense as FC cars.

Class 8 Semi Trucks (like the Toyota FC Semi) and Range Extended Buses are another story. These have at least 40kg of Hydrogen storage. So the Fuel Cell is not a significant percent of system storage weight. According to my calculations the Toyota Semi FC system probably has in excess of 800 Wh/kg Energy Density.

Of course, these trucks could use the SunLine H2 fuel station or any of the other 30 H2 stations in California.


So about $2.5 million PER BUS.

Xcelsior diesel price was a bit over $400k a few years ago.  In other words, you could buy 5 diesel buses for less than the cost of 1 of these hydrogen monsters.

What a joke.

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Correction on Toyota Mirai FC System it weighs 173kg plus weight of compressors, not 230kg (H2 storage is 88kg not 144kg).

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Actually, it may be difficult to beat a Battery Electric Bus, particularly the ProTerra.
Seattle (King County Metro) plans on buying 73 buses. The first 20 will cost $15.1 million.
The operating and maintenance costs on these buses is significantly cheaper than diesel, CNG, or Hydrogen FC buses.


I think you're right, gryf.  Battery-electric eliminates all the headaches and chicken/egg problems of hydrogen, and fast-charging technology like Busbaar and its successors are already here.


Fast-charging e-buses with Busbar, at each run-route end, use 10+% of useful run time or another 300 to 600+ buses and 750 to 1200 additional drivers in the fleet for large cities.

This could change with (future) much larger batteries (400 kWh to 800+ kWh), good for one or two complete shifts.

Larger battery packs weight and cost a lot more per extended range e-bus.


I would go with battery electric + fast charge + perhaps an ICE range extender for "get you home" flexibility.
This would make it simpler to move the bus from one place to another and other unusual "range events".



The Proterra buses are available with up to 660 KWhr of energy and 350 miles of range. It is hard to imagine that this is not enough for any reasonable transit system and if you believe their data, they are cheaper to own and operate than a diesel bus. Why would you want the problems of dealing with hydrogen fuel cell?


Google maps says the Indio to Mecca/Oasis routes are about 21/22 miles. Batteries can handle that far cheaper than FCs. If you must have hydrogen powered buses, save them for the cross country Greyhound buses.


If 660 kWh and 350 miles extended range is offered by Proterra, they are getting very close to what is required for most city (8 to 16 hours) daily use.

The next step will be for intercity e-buses with 1000 batteries or 660 kWh batteries with ultra quick charging facilities every 300 miles of so?

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