Amsterdam extends hydrogen bus trials

Posted: 29 March 2007

Amsterdam has decided to extend its trial of the city's hydrogen buses for another year until January 2008. The Dutch city also hopes that the first hydrogen-fuelled boat will be cruising city's canals later this year.

"Fuel-cell buses are the future," says Amsterdam Alderwoman Carolien Gehrels (GVB). "That's why our innovative municipal transport company has invested in them. We were one of the first in Europe. These buses are innovative and sustainable and that fits in with our aim of making Amsterdam a sustainable city."

In Amsterdam, a number of buses have been running on hydrogen for some time now. The big advantage of these vehicles is that they are environmentally friendly. These 'zero emission vehicles' create absolutely no emissions of harmful substances such as CO2. The trials are being carried out on a small scale but can count on a lot of support from both government and business.

The hydrogen is produced through electrolysis using electricity from the windmill park in The North Sea, a Shell/Nuon Joint Venture.

The municipal transport company (GVB) has been running three fuel-cell buses for three years now, without any harmful emissions occurring, as part of its regular service. It considers this form of electric transport as the future. By using light materials to build the buses and enabling the storage of braking energy, for example, they have created the ideal bus: no harmful exhaust gases, little noise and very low fuel consumption.

Hydrogen boats Recently, a consortium of Dutch companies has also agreed to develop and build a hydrogen-fuelled boat. In addition to the boat, the consortium will also site a filling station in the Amsterdam-Noord city borough on the IJ river. This consortium consists of 5 companies: Alewijnse, Integral, Linde Gas, Marine Service Noord and Rederij Lovers. To develop the first boat plus the filling station, they obtained a subsidy from the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The City of Amsterdam (Amsterdam-Noord city borough) has also contributed financially to the start-up costs.

Amsterdam hydrogen river bus
Amsterdam hydrogen river bus

"This step is a fine example of the innovative vigour of the Dutch knowledge industry and a breakthrough in the field of sustainable energy," says Hauke Sie of Fuel Cell Boat. "The development and construction of this hydrogen boat is taking place in close consultation with the government bodies, research institutions and companies involved".

It is possible that the boat will be cruising through the canals of Amsterdam later this year. During the rush hours in the morning and afternoon, the boat will transport Shell employees from the Central Station in Amsterdam to the company, which is situated on the other side of the IJ. "The purchase price of the 'green' water bus is higher than that of a normal water bus," says Hauke Sie of Fuel Cell Boat, "but the final price will not be double that of an ordinary boat. It is also possible to operate such a boat on competitive terms with a traditional diesel-powered boat.''

Air quality

"The exhaust gases from motorised transport are still the biggest cause of air pollution," says Alderwoman Marijke Vos. "A lot of measures are being introduced that are intended to lead to less and cleaner traffic in the city. Making vehicles cleaner by such means as fitting soot filters to diesel engines is an important measure. In time, a ban on very dirty heavy goods vehicles will also have a great impact. And of course we need more vehicles running on hydrogen!"

The Amsterdam College of Aldermen has initiated an Air Quality Action Plan. This comprises fifty measures for improving Amsterdam's air quality. For example, the City of Amsterdam's own fleet of vehicles will be made cleaner and civil servants will learn how to drive in a more environmentally friendly way.

Source: City of Amsterdam March 2007