The size and rapid growth of China’s economy has resulted in considerably larger carbon dioxide emissions than other nations. Given the magnitude and growth rate of China’s carbon emissions, the country has become a critical partner in developing policy approaches to reducing global CO2 emissions.
In 2011, a new energy program was launched, involving 48 Chinese cities with an objective of expanding public transit while also reducing the number of vehicles in cities. One of the program’s specific goals is to deploy more than 1,000 clean energy buses in each of the participating cities, taking advantage of government subsidies to facilitate this expansion. Fuel cell buses and electric buses are eligible for a subsidy of approximately USD$150,000, through 2017. In addition, hydrogen fuelling stations are eligible for a further subsidy of approximately USD$650,000.
Ballard’s strategy is to deliver proprietary fuel cell stacks, along with technology licenses for the localization of fuel cell module assembly. Having strong local partners is key to opening the Chinese market in that it facilitates access to marketplace provincial-level subsidies and relationships with local transit operators, the end users. Ballard is currently partnered with three companies in China and recent progress has been substantial.
Ballard also has a $17 million agreement with Guangdong Synergy Hydrogen Power Technology Company (Synergy) in support of their planned deployment of approximately 300 fuel cell powered buses in the cities of Foshan and Yunfu, China.
Ballard also has a $10M agreement for power products and technology solutions to support 33 new buses with partners Synergy and Nantong Zehe New Energy Technology Company. The municipal governments in the cities of Yunfu and Rugao plan to have fuel cell bus fleets operating in revenue service in 2016.
The $3M agreement with Tangshan Railway Vehicle Company Ltd. for the development of a new fuel cell module that will be designed to meet the requirements of tram or Modern Ground Rail Transit Equipment applications is progressing well.
WORLD’S FIRST HYDROGEN FUEL CELL TRAM
Ballard has another $6M agreement to develop and commercialize a fuel cell engine specifically designed for integration into low floor trams manufactured by CRRC Qingdao Sifang Company, Ltd. Initial deployment of eight fuel cell powered trams is planned by the city of Foshan in 2017.
Ballard successfully demonstrated the tram at a ceremonial event held in Qingdao, China. The tram, developed in partnership with CRRC Qingdao Sifang Company and powered by Ballard’s FCveloCity® motive modules, had been built in just a few short months.
Progress has been made quickly, with industry coming together to form an overall project plan for the build and operation of the fuel cell powered tram. Since that launch event, the tram has undergone further development work and has now successfully passed a preliminary design review. At the design review event in October 2015, thirteen experts from the Chinese rail industry reviewed and approved the fuel cell tram design, technical standards and operational route.
This first hydrogen fuel cell tram will operate on a 6.6km rail line in the Gaoming district of Foshan, connecting a subway line with a railway station. The line will have ten stations, including a station for hydrogen refueling. The top speed of the tram is 80km per hour, but will typically run at 30km per hour between stations, which is faster than a transit bus. The low floor bus is spacious, with a load capacity of 300 people.
A hydrogen fuel cell tram offers many advantages to transit operators looking to deploy clean energy vehicles. A tram operates at street level, making it faster and less expensive to install than a subway line. With the fuel cell providing power, unsightly overhead catenary lines are unnecessary. Trams are well suited to a variety of urban cities, whether providing transport within a downtown core or efficiently moving riders from outer suburban areas to the downtown.