ZEFER (Zero Emission Fleet vehicles for European Roll-out) will deploy large fleets of 60 hydrogen (H2) fuelled vehicles in each of three European capitals - Paris, London and Brussels.

These vehicles will be used in the applications where H2 fuelled vehicles are the most valuable – fleets which drive long distances every day, which need rapid refuelling, and which operate in polluted city centres where zero-emission H2 vehicles can have the greatest impact on avoiding pollution.

The €26m ($31.2m) pan-European initiative will introduce 180 fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) into a combination of taxi, private-hire and police fleets. These vehicles will be in regular use each day, creating H2 demand from each vehicle roughly four times that from a normal privately-owned car. This will help to ensure high utilisation of the early networks of H2 fuelling stations which are already operating in each city. This improves the economics of operating the stations and hence helps accelerate the commercialisation of H2 as a zero-emission fuel for Europe’s cities.

The project will gather data and disseminate results to demonstrate the business case for future FCEV adoption and test the performance of cars and infrastructure under high-mileage conditions.

ZEFER will be delivered by a consortium led by Element Energy, including H2 suppliers (Air Liquide and ITM Power Trading Ltd), vehicle end users (Green Tomato Cars, HYPE and the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime), observer partners (BMW and Linde AG) and partners supporting the analysis and policy conclusions (Cenex and the Mairie de Paris).

It is co-funded with €5m ($6m) from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), a public-private partnership supporting fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. The 180 FCEVs will be procured from the vehicle manufacturers able to offer state of the art H2 fuel cell cars in Europe with the first 25 vehicles deployed this week in London by Green Tomato Cars.

Ben Madden, Director at Element Energy, said, “We are delighted to be leading this major project which will demonstrate commercially viable use cases for H2 fuelled vehicles in high mileage urban fleets. The increasingly widespread H2 infrastructure network in leading European cities as well as new FCEV models from manufacturers are beginning to drive real market adoption. We are excited to see first large-scale users starting to take up the technology in large fleets to do the day to day work of vehicles which operate in urban centres.”

Dr Graham Cooley, CEO, ITM Power said, “We are delighted to be a partner in this important new deployment of FCEVs in three major European cities. Inner city air pollution is a major issue for governments world-wide and hydrogen vehicles are an important element in improving air quality and tackling the resulting significant health issues.”

Pierre-Etienne Franc, Vice-President Air Liquide Hydrogen Energy WBU said, “Air Liquide is actively developing innovative H2 mobility projects and its associated network of stations in Europe and the world. As a partner of ZEFER we are contributing to the widespread of hydrogen mobility in major European cities, including Paris where we have supported in 2015 the launch of ‘Hype’, the world’s first H2-powered taxi fleet, in partnership with Step; and in Brussels where we installed our first H2 station in 2016. H2 brings a concrete response to the challenges of sustainable mobility and local pollution in urban areas. There is no doubt that H2 will be a major pillar of our future mobility.”

Commenting on the award of grant funding, Bart Biebuyck, Executive Director of the FCH JU said, “Project ZEFER is an important step towards widespread commercialisation of hydrogen cars. The three taxi service companies and the police of London will use 180 H2 electric cars that are silent, vibration-free and emit no emissions. This brings a superior service for the comfort of taxi passengers, convenient driving range for the drivers, and a clear gain for improving air quality in Paris, Brussels and London. These H2 cars will be put under high utilisation, pushed to their limit to prove the case of the technology and hopefully we will soon see many more of them on European roads.”