As part of the ECTOS project, 3 fuel cell buses were in commercial service for 3 years.
Background & Objectives
The Government of Iceland has set forward a very strong energy policy which aims to increase the use of renewable energy as much as possible.
Iceland is in the unique situation to have an abundant source of renewable energy both hydro and geothermal. The governments goal is to use that reseources to replace fossil fuels. Currently 72% of all energy usage in Iceland is based on renewable energy, and if hydrogen or electricity can be used instead of fossil fuels in Iceland, the country can become self sufficient with energy all based on renewable sources.
ECTOS was a European funded hydrogen bus and infrastructure project. In the project there have been 3 fuel cell buses in commercial service for 3 years. They have been operated in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, in very normal service, both during winter and summer.
An on-site hydrogen production refuelling station was opened in Reykjavik in mid of 2003 to dispens hydrogen to a fleet of 3 DaimlerChrysler fuel cell Citaros. The project was very successful and the original timeframe of two years in operation was extended to become 3 years as the ECTOS team became partner in the follow up project of CUTE - the socalled HyFLEET:CUTE.
The buses have now been for 3 years in commercial service but the operation will stop in January 2007. The goal in Iceland is to follow up this project by introducing hydrogen passenger vehicles following the closing of the bus operation.
The governments policy has been closely followed by foreign companies and a public-private partnership was formed to execute the governments policy regarding establishing a hydrogen society in the near future, i.e. Icelandic New Energy Ltd.
Icelandic New Energy Ltd is a public private partnership which is jointly owned by all key players in Iceland (regarding energy and hydrogen) and DaimlerChrysler, Norsk Hydro and Shell Hydrogen. The goal of the company is to create a hydrogen economy in the future in Iceland.
The experience in general has been extreamly positive. The up-time of the buses was far higher that the project team expected and the refuelling was more or less as expected.
Of course the project went through technical difficulties specifically with some components of the filling station, the lessons of the project were extreamly valuable. The users of the vehicles were also very pleased with the operation. The refuelling time was for example just around 8-10 minutes which is similar to the refuelling time of diesel buses.
The cost of the hydrogen technology is still to high as the technology is still going through development, but all partners in the project are eager to continue with using hydrogen instead of fossil fuels when the technology will become more readily available.