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Hamburger Hochbahn issues tender for 50 fuel cell buses

Hamburger Hochbahn AG has launched a tender for the delivery of up to 50 fuel cell buses for the years 2021 to 2025. The invitation to tender consists of four lots.

Hochbahn will purchase both pure fuel cell hybrid buses and battery-electric buses in which the fuel cell serves as a range extender. Both solo and articulated buses are tendered for both technical solutions.


The basis of the tender is a detailed specification sheet that sets clear technical requirements for the vehicles. These include a minimum range of 300 km (186 miles) for solo buses and 230 km (143 miles) for articulated buses—longer ranges than required for the basic battery-electric bus tender (earlier post).

The tender was preceded by a Europe-wide process in which manufacturers could qualify to participate in the tender. Several providers have now successfully achieved this. The number and names of the companies that are now invited to submit bids are confidential for reasons of competition.

Fuel cell technology has been an integral part of the Hochbahn vehicle strategy for converting the bus fleet to emission-free drives for years. With the completion of the qualification process a decisive step towards the use of series-ready hydrogen buses in Hamburg has been achieved.

Together with the pure battery buses, which have a range of 150 or 200 kilometers depending on the generation, Hochbahn is setting up its technology portfolio with the fuel cell buses so that the diesel bus can be retired by the end of the decade and the vehicle fleet can be completely converted to emission-free drives. The advantages of fuel cells are their high flexibility and range.

Hochbahn has years of experience in hydrogen technology. Most recently, fuel hybrid buses were tested on innovation line 109 from 2014 and developed further together with the manufacturer. The testing of the vehicles was successfully completed at the beginning of last year. The HOCHBAHN currently has two battery buses with fuel cells as range extenders that are used in normal line operations.



Fuel cells are not needed for transit buses to have a 300 km range. Just look at the specs 2 articles down -- 325 km minimum with batteries only and the US version Proterra buses have a range up to 350 miles (560 km) on batteries. The battery buses will be lower cost for capital, fuel, and maintenance. At least they are planning on buying more than 10 times as many battery only buses.

Maybe, if you are going to run long distances at high speeds, fuel cells might be warranted at least until batteries have more capacity and faster charge rates.

Thomas Pedersen

Before people start talking about fool cells, let me explain why I have warmed to the idea of hydrogen for long-distance transport.

In Europe there is an ambition to get up to 450 GW off-shore wind power from the North Sea betweeen UK and Denmark. It turns out that is may be advantageous to turn part of that into hydrogen out at sea and pipe it to shore in UK, The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, and here's why:

At the time of peak production, wind power will produce at lot more than the on-shore electrical power consumption and it is expensive to invest in power cables to transmit 'useless' power to shore and even more expensive to distribute it there.

Transmitting an energy flow of e.g. 10 GW is a factor of 2-5 times cheaper as hydrogen in pipelines than through electric cables with the range determined by AC cables in the air - AC cables in the ground or DC cables in the ground.

Converting part the the electrical power into hydrogen enables storage in energy quantities and for time scales where batteries cannot compete.

For those reasons - but also because they have a great existing hydrogen consumption for heavy industry, at least The Netherlands and Germany are planning larger hydrogen networks, from which hydrogen fuel stations could possibly draw their hydrogen and alleviate at least a couple of major drawbacks of hydrogen as transport fuel


fuel cell serves as a range extender...
That is the idea, go with what works.



OK. but you do not fuel cells for transit buses. Use the hydrogen where it is needed. For example, maybe it can be used for direction of iron ore.


Exactly, go with what works. Battery electric works for transit buses, is more energy efficient and costs less so you can get more benefits sooner.

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