Bus operators from Germany and South Tyrol, Italy are partnering to procure 63 fuel cell buses for their public transport systems as part of the EU-funded JIVE project (€106 million total cost, with €32 million coming from the EU). (Earlier post.) The project is also testing new hydrogen refueling stations capable of serving fleets of more than 20 buses. This will both reduce the cost of hydrogen, as well as test the system’s capacity to offer reliability at the required commercialization level—greater than 99%.
JIVE (Joint Initiative for hydrogen Vehicles across Europe) is an EU-funded project aiming to deploy 139 new zero emission fuel cell buses across nine cities, the first deployment of this scale in Europe. Despite the project being only a few months old, the placing of 63 new buses means that the project’s aim of more than doubling the number of zero emissions buses operating in Europe is well underway.
In the quest to reduce local public transport emissions, hydrogen fuel cell buses have already demonstrated their effectiveness in a number of projects across Europe. However, there remain significant barriers to full commercialization.
Chief amongst these are that, compared to conventional buses, FC buses have higher ownership costs. There is also the market barrier most new technologies face: the need to meet public demand through assured availability and reliability. Finally the refueling infrastructure has to be comprehensively established.
JIVE anticipates that coordinated procurement, whereby multiple cities and regions can launch joint processes, will allow large orders to be placed with individual bus suppliers, thus accruing economies of scale. Additionally, this clustering approach makes it possible for bus orders to share common technical specifications. The fleets are also planned to be larger than previously deployed, with 10-30 buses, with attention also placed on establishing efficient supply chains and maintenance operations.