Hydrogen buses to hit the road in Iceland

March 2, 2001, 00:00 CET

Hydro is among the wide range of participants in the ECTOS program, which aims to put hydrogen driven buses into a normal bus route in Reykjavik. The project started on Friday.

ECTOS stands for "Ecological City Transport System". The main aim of the project is to both run a demonstration and study how infrastructure and operations of buses that run on hydrogen fuel cells can best be organized.

The project includes building a hydrogen filling station in Iceland, where hydrogen will be produced on site through electrolysis using renewable energy, and a demonstration involving three buses on a normal route for the Reykjavik Municipal Bus Corporation.

There is a European partnership behind the four-year ECTOS project, which is supported by the European Commission. Icelandic New Energy Ltd (INE) is responsible for coordination and execution, and all INE's shareholders are involved in the project.

These are the Icelandic EcoEnergy company VistOrka, DaimlerChrysler, Hydro and Shell Hydrogen. Other partners are EvoBus, the University of Iceland, the Reykjavik Municipal Bus Corporation, the Technical Institute of Iceland, Skeljungur (Shell Island) and Swedish Vinnova.

The first two years will be spent on environmental research, development of infrastructure, establishing maintenance routines, training personnel and preparations for the arrival of the buses. The demonstration will take place over the following two years when hydrogen buses will drive normal routes. The project will involve extensive socio-economic research, comparison with other energy sources and cost benefit analysis.

The ECTOS project will be the first in a series of European hydrogen fuel cell demonstration projects, which have been planned under the acronym CUTE. There will be an open flow of information between these semi-connected projects.

World leader

In a press release from the Icelandic project coordinator, INE, it was pointed out that Iceland is already a world leader in the use of renewable energy, both with regard to hydroelectric and geothermal power. The country aims to use its outstanding renewable energy sources to bolster its worldwide leadership in this field.

The fuel cell project for buses is considered an important milestone on the road towards establishing a hydrogen economy. Through setting up a practical demonstration and research project on hydrogen, Iceland will gain extensive experience of the operation of such a system which can be used for future hydrogen projects.

It is thought that ECTOS and other planned INE projects will enable Iceland to play a leading role in the introduction of this new technology in the rest of the world.

The ECTOS project is expected to cost a total of seven million euros. The EU support for the project amounts to 2.85 million euros. It will be financed 50 percent by foreign partners and 50 percent by domestic companies.

There is wide support for the project in Iceland, and both the government and the municipality of Reykjavik have encouraged INE to continue to work toward the introduction of a hydrogen economy.