But it’s also hydrogen’s ability to hold up under the frigid Edmonton winters that has ETS interested in adding more H2 fuelled vehicles to their fleet.
“We’ve found from early testing that [hydrogen] is a better store of energy in our climate,” Sharma said. “We’re seeing better ranges on our hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that we’re piloting … than we have on our battery electric vehicles and that’s compounded in cold weather conditions.”
It’s not just hydrogen’s hardiness that’s made the buses attractive to ETS, but the entire concept of hydrogen fuel itself. Sharma said he views hydrogen development as a modern day gold rush for the region that also aligns with ETS’s climate goals.
“One of the easiest ways for us to start implementing hydrogen … is to look at the transportation sector. Whether that be in buses, heavy-duty trucks, vehicles, et cetera,” he said. “It’s really interesting from a regional economic development standpoint and from a climate resilience standpoint.”
And all that sounds great, but asking the City to drop $64 million is a pretty lofty request, even when it comes to cleaning up our emissions. But there are other options for hydrogen integration if the City doesn’t approve the ask, namely retrofitting.
In August, the City announced it would be retrofitting four vehicles to integrate hydrogen as an additional fuel source. The work was part of a pilot project with Diesel Tech Industries (DTI) and included two ETS buses and two garbage collection trucks.
Sharma said if the 40 new buses are not approved, ETS could consider retrofitting more of its fleet in the meantime.