BC adds $45M for hydrogen bus fleet

Vancouver, Canada (GLOBE-Net) – British Columbia will invest $45 million in a federal-provincial partnership to bring a fleet of hydrogen buses and hydrogen fuelling stations to Whistler and Victoria by the end of 2009, Premier Gordon Campbell announced at the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells 2007 international conference and trade show in Vancouver.

In November, BC dedicated an initial $10 million of funding to the first phase of the project with a Request for Proposals that called for the development of a pre-production hydrogen fuel cell bus. BC Transit is now in contract negotiations with the top proponent for the initial bus and the subsequent production phase.

The second $45-million allocation, which comes from the federal Public Transit Capital Trust, will go towards production of the 20 hydrogen buses and development of hydrogen fuelling stations in Whistler and Victoria. BC Transit issued a Request for Proposal last week calling for the development of the fuelling stations. The remaining $34 million of the overall funding will be used by BC Transit to operate the fleet for up to five years, bringing the total commitment to $89 million.

The ultimate goal of the project is to demonstrate for the first time the integration of hydrogen fuel cell buses into the regular operational service of an urban transit system, allowing monitoring of operations, maintenance and fuelling over a sustained period

The planned ‘Hydrogen Highway’ network of fuelling stations will run from Whistler to Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria. The province is also looking to link to similar projects along the west coast and extend the highway to San Diego before 2010.

Hydrogen fuel cells provide the ability for emissions-free transportation, and buses are seen as one of the feasible near-term applications of this technology. Cost, reliability, and production and storage of hydrogen are among the technical issues to be resolved, and demonstration projects such as this provide vital testing and data.

Premier Campbell also announced $155,000 in government funding to support the development of a new undergraduate fuel cell systems design laboratory at the Institute for Integrated Energy Systems at the University of Victoria. The new facility, a first-of-its kind lab in the province, will help prepare future graduate engineers for employment with B.C. hydrogen and fuel cell companies.

BC’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Strategy will also receive $50,000 for continued outreach and communications about hydrogen and fuel cell technology in action in B.C., highlighting the viability of the technology in the mainstream marketplace. BC recently joined the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative (WRCAI), which links Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington to set a regional goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and establish a carbon trading market.

This follows a number of environmental and climate change initiatives in BC’s 2007 throne speech, including a pledge to reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions to at least 33 per cent below current levels by 2020, equivalent to 10 per cent below 1990 levels.

The province also plans to set new tailpipe emissions standards for all new vehicles sold in B.C., to be phased in between 2009 and 2016. The provincial government is seeking to leverage BC’s homegrown expertise in hydrogen technology, which includes companies such as Ballard, General Hydrogen, and Cellex.

For More Information: Government of British Columbia

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