Key public-private partnerships serve as the Collaborative's backbone. These groups drive the development, proving, and commercialization of fuel cell buses:
US Fuel Cell Bus Research: The US Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is especially interested in fuel cell technology because it holds the promise of greatly reduced emissions, quiet operation, and reduced fuel consumption for transit fleets.
Congress authorized the National Fuel Cell Bus Program (NFCBP) in 2006. The first round of NFCBP awards were announced in November 2006. FTA competitively selected three nonprofit organizations—the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE), the Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium (NAVC), and WestStart-CALSTART—to administer projects under the program. The projects incorporated multiple drive technologies and configurations, fuel cell power plants in various sizes, and several energy storage technologies.
The FTA has funded 28 research projects under the NFCBP including bus demonstrations, component development and outreach efforts. A second round of funding was announced in late 2010, and NFCBP III funding was announced in Spring 2012.
US Data Collection & Analysis: FTA collaborates with the Department of Energy (DOE) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to ensure that data is collected on all fuel cell bus demonstrations under the NFCBP. The evaluations are coordinated with ongoing DOE evaluations. The NREL data coordination effort is invaluable to documenting US fuel cell bus progress and providing needed analysis for future planning.
EU Fuel Cells & Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU): The FCH JU was launched in 2008 as a public private partnership supporting research, technological development and demonstration (RTD) activities in fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. Its aim is to accelerate the market introduction of these technologies, realising their potential as an instrument in achieving a carbon-lean energy system.
As with many other emerging energy technologies, before fuel cells and hydrogen can become competitive, a great amount of investment is needed, not only in R&D, but also in transport, storage and refuelling infrastructures. The FCH JU's model of sustained public-private partnership is expected to help overcome temporary gaps in mass-market volumes and bring the technologies to the point of market breakthrough.
The largest European bus deployment programs, CHIC and High V. LO City, are supported through the FCH JU. The FCH JU evolved from longstanding industry, scientific and political partnerships organized in the context of the European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform launched under the European Commission's 6th Framework Programme (FP6). This Platform led the HyFLEET:CUTE demonstration program in 2006-2009. Data collection and analysis on behalf of the FCH JU bus demonstrations is conducted under the NEXT HyLIGHTS effort.
Clean Hydrogen in European Cities (CHIC): CHIC involves integrating 26 fuel cell hydrogen buses in daily public transport operations and bus routes in five cities across Europe - Aargau (Switzerland), Bolzano (Italy), London (UK), Milan (Italy), and Oslo (Norway). The CHIC project is supported by the FCH JU with 26 million Euros, and has 25 partners from across Europe, along with industrial partners for vehicle supply and refuelling infrastructure.
CHIC will also link with similar projects in Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Whistler (Canada). These projects will bring their results to the CHIC partnership so that the CHIC cities can leverage off their considerable expertise and experience in the operation of hydrogen buses in public transport fleets. These projects are fully funded from other sources, thereby multiplying the impact of the funds injected into CHIC by industry and the European Union.
The Hydrogen Bus Alliance: In 2006, a group of international cities and regions actively engaged in adopting hydrogen buses formed the Hydrogen Bus Alliance. The 11 cities currently within the Alliance are characterized by high levels of political support for hydrogen bus deployment and active programs to demonstrate new hydrogen buses by 2012.
The Alliance was formed out of a recognized need to reduce risk and build confidence between bus operators and private industry in the investment in fuel cell bus technology. Members of the Alliance are committed to serving as the end-user base in the push for commercial hydrogen fuelled public transit. The Alliance will first demonstrate buses in their fleets in order to gain confidence in the technology and share the knowledge achieved amongst members and with the relevant industries.
The California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP): The CaFCP is a membership based organization with the goal of demonstrating and promoting the potential for fuel cell vehicles as a clean, safe, and practical alternative to vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. The partnership includes 30 key automotive, energy, research and public entities. The CaFCP supports its members on a number of activities such as public outreach, safety training and consultation, and market analysis.