- Eleven hydrogen buses will be in operation from mid-2019
- Joint Project parnters are progressing ordering hydrogen buses and new filling station.
- Starting in the summer of 2019, eleven buses will be used in Wiesbaden, Mainz and Frankfurt am Main. They use environmentally friendly hydrogen as an energy storage system to provide the electric drive with zero emissions and thus carry out part of public transport without polluting people and the environment.
Already in 2016, in the wake of the ecological change after the climate change conference in Paris and before diesel driving bans threatened to take hold in German cities, the transport companies in Wiesbaden (ESWE Verkehr), Mainz (Mainzer Mobilität MM) and Frankfurt (traffiQ / In-der-City Bus ICB) to the project “H2 Bus Rhein-Main – emission-free public transport in the metropolitan region” were looking to redesign urban transport with the help of innovative of low-pollutant and environmentally friendly technology. The innovative technology is the fuel cell, in which electricity is generated from hydrogen to drive the vehicles. The key impetus was JIVE – the EU funding initiative of “Joint Initiative for hydrogen vehicles across Europe” for the procurement of fuel cell bus fleets.
The funding of two million euros from the states of Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate enables the construction of a shared hydrogen filling station on the premises of ESWE Verkehr, which will be supplied with “green” hydrogen from the Mainzer Energiepark. Wind turbines are responsible for the production of electricity and thus the operation of the world's largest “power-to-gas” plant of its kind, in which hydrogen is produced. This makes the Rhine-Main project a pioneer in the fight against nitrogen oxide and fine particulate pollution in cities and municipalities. The profit of the fuel cell buses powered by hydrogen is undisputed and more than evident: zero emissions across the board – it is not just emissions that are harmful to people and the environment alike,
In September, the buses for the Rhine-Main area were ordered. All eleven vehicles are supplied by ebe Europa GmbH, which has buses manufactured by Autosan in Sanok (Poland). MM and ESWE Verkehr have each ordered two 12-meter-long solo buses and two 18-meter-long articulated buses. The articulated buses will be used from summer 2019 on the Community Line 6 between Mainz and Wiesbaden, the solo buses in the rest of the network area. For the construction of the hydrogen refueling station in Wiesbaden the company Linde was commissioned. The in-the-city bus has ordered three solo buses for use in Frankfurt city traffic. The buses are expected to be delivered by the end of the second quarter of 2019 and refueled at the existing hydrogen filling station in Industriepark Höchst.
The fuel cell buses have a range of around 300 kilometers, refueling takes under 15 minutes. The only downside: The 650,000 euros cost per bus is currently still high initial costs, which represent a financial challenge. Therefore, the funding of the EU initiative “JIVE” and the federal funds of the BMVI are so important, because they minimize the residual costs for the transport companies to the level of the cost of diesel buses. Further and similar measures are only possible if extensive funding will continue to be made available and the programs for promoting alternative drive systems in public transport will be continued and expanded.
The use of fuel cell buses will in the future be an integral part of the overall concept of climate-friendly, environmentally friendly, emission-free and resource-saving transport of the future, but battery buses will also be used. The aim of the public transport companies is to adapt the conversion to the emission-free electric drive of their public buses to the topographical and operational requirements of regular service and to implement them in line with them.
ESWE-Verkehr Managing Director Jörg Gerhard emphasizes the uniqueness and importance of the project for the city of Wiesbaden and the entire Rhine-Main region: “With this project we are doing crucial pioneering work and we are setting a milestone together with Mainz and Frankfurt for emission-free public transport.”
Environmental and Transport Minister Andreas Kowol, said “As hydrogen and fuel cell technology is currently on everyone's lips, we can not only talk about innovative drive types with this project, but also take concrete steps to implement them. So that we recognize the urgent need for action on air pollution, especially in Wiesbaden, and can significantly improve even without a diesel driving ban with other appropriate measures the air quality in the city center and the districts of Wiesbaden.”