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Press release

Clean energy: EU funds fuel cell bus research


Brussels, 20 September 2002

Key words : Energy, Renewable, Transport, Mobility


Commissioner Busquin in Brussels on 'car-free day, 22 September 2002   Prototype fuel-cell powered bus in Brussels on 'car-free day, 22 September 2002   Prototype fuel-cell powered bus in Brussels on 'car-free day', 22 September 2002   Prototype fuel-cell powered bus in Brussels on 'car-free day', 22 September 2002   Commissioner Busquin with a prototype fuel-cell powered bus in Brussels on 'car-free day', 22 September 2002  
photos: Kevin Drake - click on a picture for high-resolution versions (from 70kB to 295kB in size)

In support of European Mobility Week and the Car Free Day, on Sunday, 22nd September 2002, EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin is organising a ride across Brussels in a prototype fuel cell bus. The bus runs on hydrogen and oxygen; the only emission discharged from the exhaust pipe is pure water vapour. Pressurised hydrogen gas is stored in fiberglass-reinforced aluminium cylinders mounted in the roof of the vehicle. The bus generates power comparable to a conventional diesel engine, but causes less pollution, is less noisy and can carry more passengers. The prototype will be developed further thanks to EU-funded research. Journalists are welcome to participate in the press conference at 14.00 hrs. and in the fuel cell bus tour at 14.30 hrs. (departure in front of La Bourse, Brussels).

"This will be a good opportunity to see hydrogen technology in action" said Commissioner Busquin. "Nowadays, more than 95 percent of transport is based on fuels derived from crude oil. The remainder is made up mainly from electricity and some natural gas. Traffic congestion and the extensive use of fossil fuels is leading to an alarming increase in greenhouse gas emissions and noise from transport. The Commission is committed to reducing congestion and its detrimental effects, particularly in urban areas. The promotion of research on alternative fuels for transport is a key objective in this respect. The introduction of hydrogen fuel cell buses will help cities improve air quality and reduce CO2 emissions".

Over the last ten years demonstrator prototypes have been developed and tested by the most important bus manufacturers in the world. The Commission supports several research initiatives to foster fuel cell public transport across Europe.

An improved version of the prototype presented in Brussels during the Car Free Day, will eventually turn into a fully operational model, thanks also to the CUTE (Clean Urban Transport for Europe) demonstration project. The initiative targets 9 European cities: Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Barcelona (Spain), Hamburg (Germany), London (United Kingdom), Luxembourg, Madrid (Spain), Porto (Portugal), Stockholm (Sweden) and Stuttgart (Germany). Participating cities, public transport operators, hydrogen producers and bus manufacturers will co-operate to create a true hydrogen-based public transport system. The Commission will contribute €18.5 million out of the €52 million total budget.

Thirty fuel cell powered buses, running on locally produced and refilled hydrogen, should prove that zero emission bussing is already possible today. This will be the largest fleet of fuel cell commercial vehicles in the world. The first bus will be delivered in Madrid during the second quarter of 2003 at the UITP (International Association of Public Transport) conference. Its performance is comparable to conventional diesel driven buses with a maximum speed of 80 km/h. The bus can accommodate up to 70 passengers. These buses will be operated like conventional ones, on the same lines and under the same tight time schedule for best comparative assessment of performance and costs. Hydrogen refuelling facilities will also be set up.

Another relevant project is ECTOS (Ecological City Transport System), launched in March 2001 in Reykjavik. Total EU contribution amounts to €2.85 Million. (i.e. 40% of the total cost). ECTOS addresses at the same time the most important issues of hydrogen transport: hydrogen production (including from renewable energy sources), safety aspects of hydrogen refilling in city centres, and commercial operation of the buses in public transport systems. ECTOS will include an environmental and social impact assessment study. It will assess the feasibility of fuel cell technology as compared with other clean and traditional alternatives. Best practice identified in Iceland will benefit forthcoming EU projects in other European cities.

For further information please visit:

For further information concerning the event, please contact:

Spokesman for Commissioner Busquin

  • Fabbio Fabbi, Spokesperson for Research and development, Press DG, European commission
    Tel.: + - Fax: + - E-mail:


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