Cities speeding up the integration of hydrogen buses in public fleets

High V.LO-City
Framework Programme: 
Call for proposals: 
Application area: 
Transport and refuelling infrastructure

Key objectives of the project

The overall objective of High V.LO-City is to facilitate rapid deployment of the last generation of FCH buses in public transport operations, by addressing key environmental and operational concerns that transport authorities are facing today. The detailed objectives of the High V.LO-City project are to:

  • Implement a fleet of 14 H2 hybrid FC commercial public buses in 3 regions across Europe with significantly enhanced fuel economy and high levels of availability, and with reduced maintenance and external technical input requirements
  • Establish and enhance three hydrogen production and refuelling facilities, linked to economical and sustainable hydrogen production plants.
  • Create a network of successful FCH bus operation sites, so called Clean Hydrogen Bus Centres of Excellence (CHBCE).
  • Evaluate the entire life cycle costs of buses.
  • Contribute to the commercialization of H2 Hybrid buses in Europe, supporting the transferability of results achieved.
  • Contribute to the standardisation of authorization protocols for hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, through the analysis of existing experiences and existing barriers of national and regional regulatory frameworks in Europe.
  • Facilitate EU objectives and policies by researching and demonstrating the environmental, human health, energy efficiency, social and economic benefitsof hydrogen powered buses in public transport,
  • Pro-actively communicate project advantages to citizens, communities, decisionmakers and decision-formers so as to increase awareness, promotion,
  • Deployment and broader adoption of hydrogen fuelled vehicles, in particular for public and collective clean transport.


Challenges/issues addressed

Fuel cell buses (FCH buses) are sustainable alternatives for combustion engines in public transport. The fuel cell technology is relatively new and hence experience with these type of drive trains is limited. In the here described project, third generation FCH buses are evaluated in commercial public transport services. The research on these buses carried out in this period provides us with valuable information about the reliability of the on board systems, requirements for periodic, preventive and curative maintenance, specific operational requirements and the overall availability in different geographic circumstances.

Hydrogen is an intermediate high value energy carrier that can be produced in different ways, from which the major are the electrolysis of water, preferably with sustainable produced electricity and as a waste product from industrial processes. In this project, further experience is built up with modular hydrogen production infrastructures to provide the operational buses with hydrogen. This experience is required to have the Hydrogen Refuelling Systems’ (HRS) availability increased over 98%.

The High V.LO-City project aims at accelerating the integration of a new generation of FCH buses in public transport fleets by demonstrating the technical and operational quality, their value in creating a clean and highly attractive public transport service and in facilitating the modular shift that local transport policies are envisioning towards sustainable transport. By linking effectively previous and future demonstration sites, the project seeks to further broaden and consolidate a network of successful FCH bus operators that is able to widen the dissemination of FCH bus operations in Europe.


Technical approach/objectives

In the project, 14 Fuel Cell Hybrid buses of a new generation are demonstrated in three regions: Flanders, Liguria, Scotland. The objectives for the operational aims of these buses exceed the prestations of former FCH buses. To realise these targets, major adaptations to the buses are carried out, as there are the implementation of a new motor in the drive train, the mass of the bus is further decreased and high performant software algorithms are integrated into the bus control systems.

Operation of FCH buses requires a supply of high quality and clean hydrogen. Hydrogen can be sourced in different ways, three of them are demonstrated in the here presented project. Major challenges here are the availability of steady fuelling capacities over 250kg/day during 98% of the time. Moreover, to facilitate refuelling, the refuelling times are reduced.

The ultimate objective of High V.LO City is to develop the most advanced European fuel cell buses in order to achive all conditions needed to reach an effective commercialization of energy and environmental third generation FCH Buses.


Expected socio and economic impact

High V. LO-City intends to maximise the effect of its actions at local level, considering the regional development as the key element to sustain the overall European FCH market takeup. Involving in each of the three planned demonstration sites the entire value chain of stakeholders involved into the FCH local development (Public administration, PT Operators, Research organisation, educational centres), the expected outcome is to reach Regional & Urban Mobility Plans, which will commit selected regions to built-up long-lasting integrated policies to support FCH market enhancement, targeted to their specific needs, that will go far beyond the execution of the High V. LO-City co-funded work-plan.

To guarantee a wide European impact of the results achieved, High V. LO-City has identified a clear Transferability model, to support the adoption of these local implementation plans in other interested European regions.

Project reference: 
SP1-JTI-FCH.2010.1.1 - Large-scale demonstration of road vehicles and refuelling infrastructure III
Project type: 
Contract type: 
Collaborative Project
Start date: 
Sunday, January 1, 2012
End date: 
Monday, December 30, 2019
60 months (originally), extended to 84 months, then 96 months
Project cost: 
€ 29,243,442.40
Project funding: 
€ 13,491,724

VAN HOOL N.V., Belgium

Paul Jenné – Transit Bus Project Manager
Contact email: 
Other participating organisations: 
Participants Country
VAN HOOL N.V. Belgium
Riviera Trasport SpA Italy
Dantherm Power AS Denmark
(Solvay SA) until 31/12/2016 Belgium
Vlaamse Vervoermaatschappij - De Lijn Belgium
WaterstofNet vzw Belgium
HyER Belgium
University degli Studi di Genova Italy
Regione Liguria Italy
FIT Consulting srl Italy
Aberdeen City Council United Kingdom
Ballast Nedam International Product Management Holland
Pitpoint BE (from 01/09/2016) BE
Pitpoint BV (from 01/09/2016) NL
QBuzz BV (ffrom 01/09/2016) NL