Ballard Fuel Cells To Power Norway Buses

Maybe Norway – always a Winter Olympics powerhouse – liked what it saw in British Columbia? There, at the 2010 Games, a fleet of 20 buses powered by Ballard’s FCvelocity power module shuttled people to and from Whistler. Now we’re hearing that similar buses will soon be rolling in the Oslo area.

Vancouver-based Ballard Power Systems said it struck deal to sell that same hydrogen fuel cell to HyNor Oslo Buss group, which will use it in five 43-foot buses that should go into service by the end of the year.

fuel cell bus, Ballard Power Systems

image via Ballard Power Systems

As always with fuel cell technology, a big question here is how the fuel cells are charged – though they always “burn” clean, producing hydrogen isn’t de facto a pollution-free enterprise. In this case, Ballard said, “the hydrogen will be generated through electrolysis of water, using electrical energy from renewable sources,” making operation of the buses truly greenhouse-gas emissions-free.

The group behind the Norway fuel cell bus effort is a coalition consisting of Ruter transit agency, Akershus County Administration, Oslo Municipality and Zero, an environmental organization. That’s not surprising given the expense of hydrogen buses. A 2007 U.S. Department of Transportation study put the fuel cell costs for an entire life cycle at three times that of diesel, CNG or diesel hybrid buses. However, Ballard said, “Increased volumes of fuel cell-powered buses are expected to support cost and price reductions through scale economies, enabling fuel cell solutions to compete effectively with incumbent transit technologies.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • Mike Halpin

    I hope the U.S. Department of Transportation has done a study on the cost of pollution caused by our existing modes of transport.
    I think the inhabitants of all our major towns and cities would benifit from a clean, green, fuel cell transport system. Just imagine the city air smelling as sweet as that of the countryside! a goal worth persuing?

    Mike H.

  • Andrew

    Oslo already runs its buses on gas harvested from the sewer system.

    While Norwegian homes and industry has been powered by hydropower since last century the government is funding the HyNor (Hydrogen-Norway) initiative.

    The HyNor Project is developing rapidly between the cities of Oslo and Stavanger. This project will provide a sensible means of providing hydrogen transportation along a test strip some 350 miles. Major int’l car manufacturers are partners in the project.