Auckland looking at trialling hydrogen-powered buses

Auckland looking at trialling hydrogen-powered buses

Auckland Transport (AT) and Hiringa Energy Limited are looking at trialling hydrogen powered bus services, using a hydrogen refuelling facility being developed in south Auckland, New Zealand.

Through the development of the Low Emission Bus Roadmap, Auckland Transport has identified hydrogen as a potential energy storage and fuel for Auckland’s future low emission public transport fleet.

AT has been assessing hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) bus options to support the transition to zero emission buses and is a key partner of the hydrogen demonstration project with Ports of Auckland.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said, “Transport makes up more than 40% of Auckland’s emissions profile, so transitioning to low and zero-emissions vehicles is important to helping Auckland achieve its climate change goals.”

“With the right infrastructure, hydrogen has the potential to power our buses and other parts of our vehicle fleet, which will help reduce emissions and lower air pollution in Auckland.”

AT’s Chief Executive Shane Ellison said there is a great benefit in exploring, with Hiringa, potential hydrogen refuelling solutions for low emission bus and ferry services using green hydrogen fuel.

“This would support our existing work with Ports of Auckland. Fuel cell buses meet the heavy daily demands of public transport,” Ellisons said.

“Hydrogen-powered buses and ferries would overcome the challenges of large and heavy battery packs on bigger buses and ferries.”

“Hydrogen fuel offers far greater flexibility for public transport operators and will complement battery electric services.”

Andrew Clennett, CEO of Hiringa Energy, said, “We often see people expecting a two horse race between hydrogen and battery electric with only one winner.”

“In reality it’s going to need a mix of both technologies, with each playing to its strength. That’s what we are seeing internationally and analysis for the New Zealand fleets suggests this is going to be the optimal approach.”

Clennett said hydrogen performs most effectively for the higher use buses that need to stay on the road, providing a service day and night, and covering the most kilometres.

These buses produce the most emissions in a diesel fleet, and hydrogen will help public transport operators rapidly decarbonise their fleets without compromising their existing service.

Auckland Transport will now focus on exploring hydrogen fuel cell bus fleet deployment, with a selected bus operator contracted by Auckland Transport, under a new bus fleet ownership model incorporating hydrogen supply.

Future work will include investigating the potential supply of green hydrogen to support future hydrogen ferry services.

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