The first fuel cell bus of ESWE Verkehr has been officially presented at a special ceremony. It marks an important new milestone in the history of the mobility service provider.
The importance of diesel engines in the ESWE Verkehr bus fleet is steadily declining. Back in June 2020, ESWE Verkehr, the mobility service provider of the state capital Wiesbaden, invited tenders from all over Europe for ten fuel cell buses. From the submitted tenders, the Portuguese vehicle manufacturer CaetanoBus S.A. came out as the successful bidder. Its “H2.City Gold” model succeeded in meeting all the desired criteria.
The new zero-emission vehicles are being financed to a large extent by government funding support. Accordingly, representatives of the funding agencies were also present at the event in that took place in Wiesbaden. Among the guests was Elena Hof, Programme Manager of the National Innovation Programme Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology at NOW GmbH. In her introductory remarks, she emphasised the special importance of hydrogen as an energy carrier and its high environmental compatibility and future viability: “Hydrogen and fuel cell technology is an important future technology for the business and mobility centre that Germany is. In the field of public transport, hydrogen-powered vehicles are a particularly good supplement to battery-powered vehicles for long and topographically demanding routes in order to achieve the climate targets”.
As the mobility service provider in the capital city of the state of Hesse, ESWE Verkehr is pursuing the goal of achieving public transport with zero local emissions. The fuel cell technology utilises so-called green hydrogen. It represents the most sustainable hydrogen option and is a central building block for improving the quality of air and life in Wiesbaden. The new and emission-free fuel cell buses are an important aspect of the state capital’s clean air plan (Luftreinhalteplan).
The Hessian Minister of Economic Affairs and Transport, Tarek Al-Wazir, commented: “Emission-free mobility is an existential task for the state of Hesse in terms of climate protection and air pollution control. Alternative drive technologies play an important role in this, including hydrogen. That is why the state of Hesse has also funded the associated hydrogen filling station. However, it is also clear that hydrogen does not occur naturally and must be produced with considerable effort. It is therefore not automatically climate and environmentally friendly, but only when it is produced from renewable energies and used where other solutions are not possible. Therefore, the expansion of wind energy and other renewable sources must be promoted concurrently. The new fuel cell bus that will travel through the Hessian state capital in the future is a supplement to the battery-electric buses that are already gradually replacing diesel vehicles in Wiesbaden. Especially for long-distance routes and difficult topographies, it can be a valuable solution and shows that local public transport plays a central role in climate protection and in the mobility transition. It is all the more gratifying that more fuel cell buses will be added by the end of the year. They will ensure cleaner air and less noise pollution in the city.”
A further nine fuel cell buses are to be delivered from Portugal to Wiesbaden by the end of December 2021. Meanwhile, ESWE Verkehr has already been able to gain over a year’s experience with a hydrogen filling station on its own company premises and a rented fuel cell bus. Due to their range, which varies between at least 350 and up to 400 kilometres depending on the operating profile and weight of the bus, the fuel cell buses are preferably deployed on longer bus routes. The new buses can be refuelled in well under 15 minutes. The crucial aspect, however, is that ESWE Verkehr is taking another major step towards realising the company’s goal of “Our Vision – Zero Emissions”.
This goal for the state capital is also emphasised by Wiesbaden’s Head of Transport Andreas Kowol: “Today, no one can say with certainty whether hydrogen or battery buses will ultimately prevail – or both alongside each other. That is why we at ESWE Verkehr are using both technologies with an open mind. Today we are one step closer to the goal of climate-neutral public transport. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all those involved, especially the funding bodies and the city council, for facilitating such innovations financially.”
Bart Biebuyck, Executive Director, Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, said: “We are excited to bring an innovative fleet of ten fuel cell buses to the streets of Wiesbaden. We believe this will mark an important milestone for cleaner and more efficient public transport. Our company is committed to supporting the introduction of innovative hydrogen solutions across Europe. With its zero-emission buses, the JIVE programme represents an important contribution to reducing the carbon footprint in our cities.”
Managing Director of ESWE Verkehr and host of the event, Jörg Gerhard, expressed his gratitude to the project’s supporters: “Today, I would especially like to thank our funding providers: first and foremost, the European Union and the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. Thanks to this funding support, we are once again taking another significant step forward in the conversion of our zero-emission bus fleet and the associated infrastructure. In no small measure, this is transforming our company from a transport company to a modern and sustainable mobility service provider for the state capital Wiesbaden. ESWE Verkehr continues to pursue a technology-open approach in its conversion strategy. We firmly believe that hydrogen and fuel cell technology can and will make a significant contribution to the sustainability of public transport in Wiesbaden.”
The vehicles are being funded by the “JIVE” (Joint Initiative for Hydrogen Vehicles across Europe) project of the EU with 1.95 million euros and specifically within the framework of the “Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking” (FCH JU) programme of the EU. Further funding totalling 1.685 million euros is provided by the National Innovation Programme Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP) of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI – Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur). The funding guideline is coordinated by NOW GmbH and implemented by Project Management Jülich (PtJ).
Caption: Prof. Hermann Zemlin, Managing Director ESWE Verkehr; Jörg Gerhard, Managing Director ESWE Verkehr; Tarek Al-Wazir, Hessian Minister of Transport; João Caeiro, Sales Manager CaetanoBus S.A.; Elena Hof, NOW GmbH and Programme Manager NIP; Dietmar Schneider, Business Unit Manager ESWE Verkehr; Dr. Karsten McGovern, Managing Director Landesenergieagentur and Andreas Kowol, Wiesbaden’s Head of Transport (from left to right).
Further details (in German) on the new buses can be found at: www.eswe-verkehr.de/brennstoffzellenbus.html