As municipal public transportation systems worldwide have been seeking zero-emission, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and battery electric cars have both been heavily studied and tested to transition away from fossil fuel-powered fleets.
Finding ways to power the world’s vehicles has long been a vital component in tackling the climate crisis. When it comes to small passenger vehicles, there is little question that the future lies with battery electric cars, rather than ones driven by hydrogen fuel cells—the other viable alternative. However, as the size of a vehicle increases, hydrogen can become an increasingly attractive option.
For many routes, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have proven to have considerable performance advantage over battery electrics, becoming the top choice for the replacement of traditional diesel models. Among the reasons for this included the advantages of zero-emission operations without sacrificing schedules, routes or existing functions at depots. H2 offers longer range and faster fueling than batteries.
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.
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Many people don’t realize that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have a notably similar architecture to battery electric ones. 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.
Currently, adoption of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for public transportation fleets remains in its early stages. The reason is that this 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.
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Our work with hydrogen
Universal Kraft works with hydrogen as a green option to fossil fuels, providing the same functionality on a large scale. Complementary to direct electrification, hydrogen gives the green industry a chance to contribute beyond the grid, via the generation of green hydrogen as energy storage, greening of gas through methanation of hydrogen and feedstock for high-temperature local industrial processes that are difficult to electrify.
These green power alternatives are fundamental for a sustainable and complete clean energy transition. Universal Kraft has been working on alternative and innovative energy storage solutions for a number of years. To optimize the decarbonization potential of renewables for the generation of green hydrogen and ammonia we created the companies UH2 and BH2.