Rotterdam city is motoring towards its emission-free public transport objective after welcoming the launch of the first two fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs) in a Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU)-funded project.

The 3Emotion project put the vehicles’ wheels into motion for the first time last week.

The buses will refuel at Air Liquide’s existing hydrogen (H2) station in Rotterdam. gasworld understands that the site’s storage capacity has been expanded specifically to cater for the project.

This pilot phase is considered to be a preparatory step towards a 100% emission-free public bus fleet from 2025, with Maurice Unck, Director of public transport operator RET, stating, “We all want clean air in the city. At the moment, we are in a transit phase to completely clean buses and we have reached a momentum; the introduction of the H2 bus.”

3Emotion is the fourth large-scale bus project to be co-financed by the FCH JU and aims to bridge the gap between FCEB demonstrations and larger-scale deployment.

The scheme plans to deploy 21 FCEBs alongside the required refuelling infrastructure. Aside from the Netherlands, they will be employed in the UK, France, Denmark and Italy.

There are currently around 70 buses in operation across Europe, with more than 150 planned to be put into circulation in the near future. Overall, they have driven more than 8.5 million km – a reduction of around 9,000kgs of carbon dioxide (CO2) compared to if traditional diesel-powered vehicles were to drive the same distance.