The CHIC intermediate conference took place on 8 October 2013 in Brussels, in the framework of the Open Days. The event was hosted by Scotland house. Both the CHIC project status and the experiences of High V.LO cities were presented.

Following an introduction of Mr Holmes highlighting the developments in hydrogen technology in Scotland, Mr Warth, project coordinator, presented the project. The CHIC project started in 2010 and builds on previous fuel cell bus projects, namely CUTE and High:FLEET CUTE, that include 100% fuel cell powered buses; the buses in CHIC are fuel cell hybrid buses also integrating batteries and super capacitors. Mr Warth explained CHIC’s ambitions: CHIC will drive the focus of industry, governments and communities, and will increase the deployment of fuel cell hybrid (FCH) buses in 5 so called phase 1 cities, Oslo, London, Aargau, Bolzano and Milan.

The state of play in the hydrogen refuelling station (HRS) infrastructure development to fuel the buses in the bus depots was explained by Ms Arxer from Air Products: so far 5 HRS (Hydrogen Refuelling Stations) have been built in the 5 cities (phase 1) alone. There has been a huge improvement compared to the previous fuel cell buses projects: the availability of CHIC stations has been consistently high and the CHIC stations are able to fill a bus in less than 10 minutes.

The cities of Aargau (Switzerland), Ms Seraidou from Postbus and Mr Weston from Transport for London, as project partners, were showcased at the event. In London: 7 fuel cell buses are in service; they have travelled over 350,000 kms to date. The fuelling station has been operating extremely well with an availability of 99%. The overall buses availability is around 65%. In Aargau: 5 fuel cell buses are in operation. The fuelling station availability is very good, since March 2013 the availability of the buses is good. The project’s expectations of over 27,500km per month have been reached.

Ms Hölzinger from Spilett presented the main results of the acceptance study that has been developed in the framework of the project towards different target groups. She explained that the willingness to accept hydrogen as fuel in public transport is high. The acceptance levels remain below potential for three main reasons: citizens do not know about the project idea and the technology concept, which inhibits a societal discussion and positive positioning. Regional stakeholders in the project environment lack information on project progress and technology performance, decreasing motivation to support (further) activities. Bus drivers lack information on improvements to their work environment prior to the trial, and feedback on problems during the project implementation.

The dissemination activities were presented by Ms Skiker, communication manager of HyER. The CHIC project has gained high visibility since its start, being regularly presented at events internationally, European wide (Sustainable Energy week, mobility week) and at local level, especially on the occasion of the buses arrival in each city. Ms Skiker highlighted the presence of a CHIC fuel cell bus at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2013, which was used as shuttle bus to transport participants and citizens.

Two other cities presented their experience in fuel cell buses deployment, as part of other projects supported by the Joint Undertaking for Fuel Cells and Hydrogen: the city of Aberdeen and San Remo (Liguria) that participate in the HIGH V.LO-City project. In the region of Liguria, Mr Corrado from SPA Trasporti explained that the final aim is to substitute all its trolley-buses (15) actually operating. The idea is to produce on-site the whole electric energy needed to hydrogen production by a mix with renewable energy sources. The main factors of improvement with respect to the current fuel cell buses and HRS are: increased loading capacity and a significant reduction of vehicle purchasing cost, hydrogen cost has to become almost similar to traditional fossil fuels, also taking into account a possible increasing of oil cost.

Mr Holmes, on behalf of the Aberdeen city council, presented the latest developments in Scotland. Aberdeen launched a hydrogen strategy on 22 May 2013, which develops a framework strategy for a hydrogen transport economy. Furthermore, Aberdeen, through the HyTransit and HIGH V.LO-City projects (“hydrogen bus project”) is investing in the largest fuel cell bus fleet in Europe, with ten fuel cell bus buses to arrive in the city in 2014.

The debate that followed the presentations focused on the challenges and opportunities of fuel cell buses deployment in other cities. Mr Corrado mentioned the difficulties in getting the authorisations for the refuelling station in San Remo.

The conference was closed by a speech from Mr Navas, from the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, who highlighted the importance of the CHIC project in future commercialisation of fuel cell buses and the good technical achievements so far.

A Van Hool Fuel Cell bus, that will be used in High V.LO Cities, was displayed at the entrance of the CHIC conference. Participants had the opportunity to take the bus to go back to the Midi station after the conference.

Presentations are available here.


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