The two buses were on display at the conference.
But, if the City has already made significant investments in battery-powered buses, why be so excited about hydrogen?
Robar said the performance of the battery-powered bus declines significantly in cold temperatures. They run great in the summer, but their ranges decrease in the winter. Because it’s a new technology, the City and its suppliers have been working on ways to make the buses more efficient in the winter, including using blankets to keep the batteries warm.
“We’ve learned a lot from the electrification strategy,” he said. “What it takes to electrify fleets, what transition looks like, and how to do it in a sustainable way, and how do you meet your targets in an industry and a world that isn’t as grid friendly. How do we move along that path, and I think there’s a lot to be said about the conversion model in battery electric, which has now led us into the sphere of hydrogen.
There are issues with hydrogen; the fuel supply network is in its nascent stage.
“Everything relies on fuel, here,” said Robar. “And, I think with a hydrogen fueling strategy, for us to be able to convert the fleet, it really depends on how much we can get.”
And, insurers are still wary about the technology.
While this example comes from the trucking industry, it gives you the idea about the insurance barriers that exist with hydrogen.
Trevor Van Egmond, the senior manager of Industry Advancement at Alberta Motor Transport Association, said that it can cost $35,000 a year to insure a hydrogen powered truck, while a diesel-engine vehicle can be about $3,500 a year to insure. So there are barriers to entry for hydrogen at the moment.