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Market News

 April 27, 2009
Momentum Growing for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in British Columbia

 The world’s first fleet of fuel cell buses will be running on British Columbia roads by the end of 2009 in time for the 2010 Olympic Games.  A fleet of 20 high performance hydrogen hybrid buses will showcase B.C.’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and will demonstrate the potential of hydrogen technology as a viable energy option.

BC Transit, the provincial transit agency, is championing the project, which will see the world’s first hydrogen hybrid fuel cell bus fleet operating in revenue service as part of a regular urban transit system. The service, which will be fully implemented in time for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, will operate in Whistler. A federal - provincial government partnership will invest $89 million for the entire program, including hydrogen fuelling facilities.

The goal is to demonstrate for the first time the integration of fuel cell buses into the regular operational service of an urban transit system, allowing monitoring of operations, maintenance and fuelling over a sustained period. Hydrogen fuel cell buses produce no smog-creating emissions and no greenhouse gas emissions, and they can be twice as efficient as internal combustion engines. When fully commercialized the life cycle costs for fuel cell buses are expected to be lower than existing internal combustion engine technology.

The BC Transit project will feature Canadian technology and expertise. New Flyer Industries of Winnipeg will manufacture the 20 buses, with delivery by the end of 2009. The low-floor buses will have a range of 500 km, a top speed of 90 km per hour and a life expectancy of 20 years. The bus fleet will also benefit from the system integration expertise of ISE Corporation of San Diego, developers of the hybrid drive system. Ballard Power Systems of Burnaby will provide the 150 kW fuel cell modules and Dynetek Industries of Calgary will deliver the hydrogen storage systems. 

The hydrogen supply for fuel cell bus fleet will be produced from clean technologies (hydro-electricity and recovered waste hydrogen gas). There will be no harmful emissions from the buses at the point of use, and when hydrogen comes from a renewable energy source, greenhouse gas emissions can be zero. Used in a fuel cell, hydrogen combines with oxygen in the air to produce electricity to power the vehicle, with water as the only emission. 

Air Liquide, together with Canadian companies Sacre-Davey Group, Hydrogen Technology and Energy Corporation and Hydrogenics Corporation (HTEC), will design, supply, operate and maintain hydrogen fuelling for the fleet. The first fuelling station located in Victoria at BC Transit’s Langford Transit Centre, was completed in mid-2008. In September, BC Transit in Victoria will receive a prototype hydrogen fuel cell bus for testing and evaluation of fuel consumption, maintenance, reliability and overall performance.

The Whistler fuelling station will be located at a new BC Transit facility currently under development and scheduled for completion by the fall of 2009. The station will be capable of dispensing 1,000 kg of hydrogen per day making it the largest hydrogen fuelling station in the world for transportation applications. 

The BC Transit project is a key part of the BC Hydrogen Highway, a large-scale showcase of hydrogen and fuel cell applications in British Columbia. The BC Hydrogen Highway was recently awarded a ’Sustainability Star’ from the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The ’Sustainability Star’ recognizes sustainability innovations in economic, environmental and social initiatives. 

In the spirit of the growing momentum behind hydrogen and fuel cell development in British Columbia, it is fitting that Vancouver is the host of the upcoming Hydrogen + Fuel Cells 2009: International Conference and Trade Show (HFC 2009).

 Taking place from May 31 to June 3, 2009, participants will have an opportunity to experience the newest in products and applications from hydrogen and fuel cell technology developers, as well as hear the latest scientific breakthroughs, commercial opportunities and policy developments from experts around the world. 

"Hydrogen and fuel cell technology is an important solution as the world searches for clean, green, sustainable energy alternatives," said John Tak, president and CEO of the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association. "This conference showcases the commercial applications at work today, and how hydrogen and fuel cell technology is powering buses, automobiles, forklifts and portable electronics, as well as heating buildings and homes throughout the world."

The pre-production bus used by BC Transit to test and evaluate performance ahead of delivery of the production buses for the demonstration fleet will be onsite and delegates will have a chance to learn more about this project. Attendees will also have the opportunity to experience the automotive fuel cell technology in action by taking part in a fuel cell vehicle ride and drive featuring vehicles from 7 major automakers, taking place on June 3rd. 

For more information please visit the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association

For More Information: Hydrogen & Fuel Cells Canada