The challenge of the zero-emission goals is making cities rethink its municipal public transportation systems. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and battery electric cars have both been heavily studied and tested to replace fossil fuel-powered fleets.
Fossil fuels and how they can be replaced have long been an important concern of climate advocates. When it comes to small passenger vehicles, there is already a consensus of battery electric cars as an alternative, rather than hydrogen fuel cells vehicles — another viable alternative. However, for bigger vehicles, hydrogen can become an increasingly attractive option.
For many routes, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have a considerable performance advantage over battery electrics, becoming the top choice for the replacement of traditional diesel models. One of the reasons is that hydrogen offers longer range and faster fueling than batteries, with no need to jeopardize schedules, routes or existing functions at depots.
Some regions have become early adopters of hydrogen. Aberdeen has become a hydrogen hub after the council put in hydrogen filling stations which refuel road sweepers and waste trucks as well as buses and cars. The US has announced several programs to support the rollout of hydrogen refueling infrastructure, although electric buses are currently far more common.
Among the largest programs introducing the hydrogen-powered public transportation vehicles is the UK government’s £200 million in funding for the Zero-Emission Bus Regional Areas program, which aims to decarbonize all road transportation by 2040.
In the United States, the Federal Transit Administration’s Bus and Transit Facilities has committed over $1.1 billion this year. That funding is intended to make it possible for transit agencies to launch the adoption of H2 tech and the broad transition to alternatively powered fleets.
It may not be common knowledge that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have a notably similar architecture to battery electrics. As zero-emission routes continue to be scaled up, H2 is increasingly prove itself. Battery electrics have a shorter range and require substantially longer recharging time, which can decrease the route choice flexibility of an operator.
The nature of hydrogen refueling makes it possible to establish a similar refueling depot to those already used by transit systems with diesel depots. They are also similar in that they can be scaled up as the hydrogen-powered fleet continues to grow. As a result, the refueling strategies and structures don’t need to undergo much change when transitioning to fuel cell buses, particularly because even the time requirements align closely.
Despite the advances, adoption of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for public transportation fleets remains in its early stages. The main reason is that this shift is a considerable investment and municipal transit authorities. Therefore, while more authorities are showing notable interest, most are testing a single vehicle or handful of buses as opposed to replacing their entire fleets.
Our work with hydrogen
UH2 works with solutions for production of green hydrogen, through electrolysis with zero carbon emissions, to then be stored and distributed, so it can be used to heat buildings, manufacture steel or go into fuel cells for trucks and ships.
Able to provide the full project needs, we strive to add value through rapid acquisitions in strategic locations, implementing ongoing technology improvements and innovative solutions, as well as creating bankable value chains.
We are currently developing H2 and NH3 projects in Canada, Sweden, Spain, Portugal and Brazil.
Check out our project here.