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Clean Buses in Europe: Highlights from our Amsterdam conference in May 2019 [free access]

June 1, 2019

In May 2019, Global Mass Transit (GMT) organised its second conference on ‘Clean Buses in Europe 2019’. The conference brought together many professionals from government authorities and the industry who are directly involved in the deployment of clean buses in European cities. Representatives from transport authorities, bus operators, bus manufacturers, officials from multilateral agencies, technology providers, heads of university projects, and consultants attended the conference.


There were five sponsors – Allego, Chariot Motors, HJS Emission Technology, Optibus, and ViriCiti – and two supporters – Hydrogen Europe and HyER (Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Electro-mobility in European Regions).


The key takeaways from the conference are the following.


Debby Woesthuis, Director – Bus Division, GVB - Amsterdam, The Netherlands spoke about the challenges and apprehension the agency employees faced when the plan to deploy clean buses was announced. They decided to deploy opportunity charging and not hydrogen, battery or trolley.  The first opportunity charging hub has been developed in Sloterdijk. One of the big questions they are discussing is ‘who is going to pay’ for the electric buses. She also shared that GVB will be operating electric buses from December 2019 onwards.  


The European Commission’s Initiatives


Dario Dubolino, Policy Officer, DG Transport and Mobility – Sustainable & Intelligent Transport, European Commission spoke about the European Union’s (EU’s) initiatives for the deployment of clean buses. He discussed the revisions to the Clean Vehicles Directive (CVD), covering its main elements such as its scope, definition, national targets, monitoring and reporting of procurements, exemptions.


Mr Dubolino concluded his presentation by discussing the European Commission’s support for the deployment of clean buses, including financial support, as well as its support for the bus industry and for industry innovation.


Initiatives of C40 Cities


Anna Peiris, Project Officer, Zero Emission Vehicle Network, C40 Cities spoke about deteriorating climate conditions and how cities are contributing to efforts aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change by deploying zero-emission buses. Ms Peiris discussed the deployment of electric buses across cities such as Santiago (Chile), London (UK), Copenhagen (Denmark), and Warsaw (Poland), and described the key takeaways from the deployments in these cities. She also discussed key challenges and the various initiatives taken by C40 Cities to tackle these challenges.    


Upgrading Existing Buses to the Euro VI Standard


Hubertus Borgmeier, International Sales Manager and Business Development, HJS Emission Technology talked about the retrofitting of urban city buses with combined particle filter and deNOx. Mr Borgmeier provided detailed insights into real driving emissions (RDE), upgradation of city buses to Euro VI with SCRT®, the company’s SCRT® Active Thermal Management system, its certification process and certified systems in Germany, the UK Millbrook Certification Test, certified systems in the UK, and remote emission monitoring.


Deployment of Electric Buses – Transit Authority Perspective


The session was moderated by Michael Dolman, Principal Consultant, Element Energy.


Gerard Hellburg, Program Manager, Zero Emission Mobility, Vervoerregio Amsterdam, The Netherlands spoke about the agency’s sustainability goals in the Amsterdam region, the deployment of clean buses in the city, and the lessons learnt. Mr Hellburg provided financial insights on the total cost of ownership (TCO) and social cost benefit analysis (SCBA), which are depicted in Figure 1.


Figure 1: TCO and SCBA of electric buses in Amsterdam

Source: Vervoerregio Amsterdam                                


Bart Kraayvanger, Manager, Zero Emission Programme, Transdev Netherlands (Connexxion) spoke about Transdev’s experience in the deployment of electric buses in the Netherlands. The company faced various challenges. Figure 2 depicts the solutions adopted by the company to address these challenges. 


Figure 2: Transdev’s approach and its challenges


Source: Transdev Netherlands                   


Mr Kraayvanger closed the presentation with a discussion on the monitoring of electric buses and the charging infrastructure. The TCO of electric buses is still higher than that of diesel buses, but the company has achieved a significant reduction in the emissions of harmful gases.


Topias Philava, Development Manager, City of Turku, Finland discussed the operations of buses in the Föli region as well as the deployment of clean buses and the lessons learnt. Of the 280 buses operated in the city of Turku, only four buses are hybrid and six are electric. The remaining buses are fuelled by diesel.


Liv Cecilie Evenstad, Senior Advisor and Project Manager, Electric Buses and Ferries, Troms County, Norway talked about the deployment of clean buses in arctic conditions. She described the climatic conditions of Troms County, the county’s transit requirements, its long-term goals, the demand for green services, and the various challenges faced in the deployment of electric buses.


Electric Buses and Charging Infrastructure


Justin Au-Yeung, Segment Manager, Public Transport, Allego spoke about the transition to zero-emission public transport and how the company can support various authorities in meeting their charging requirements. He explained various bus-charging options and described why driving range is the main criterion for technology selection, which is shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3: Bus-charging options  


Source: Allego                                                         


He concluded the presentation by explaining how remote management of the charging infrastructure decreases cost.


Radislav Minchev, Head of Aftersales Department, Chariot Motors spoke about Chariot Motors’ ultracapacitor (UC) electric bus, the results of its operations in four countries, and its technological and operational advantages compared to other battery-powered buses. He compared UC and fast-charging batteries, which is depicted in Figure 4.


Figure 4: Comparison between UC and fast-charging batteries


Source: Chariot Motors


He concluded the presentation by discussing how the installed remote monitoring and diagnostic system for buses and charging stations monitors energy consumption, recuperation values, the state and errors of all systems, passenger load, speed acceleration, driver’s behaviour, etc.


Alexander Schabert, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer, ViriCiti discussed ViriCiti’s solution for energy management to improve bus performance and to optimise the maintenance of charging infrastructure. Figure 5 provides details of how battery data gives direct insights into the health and the remaining range of the vehicle.


Figure 5: Example of battery module degradation

Source: ViriCiti


Almar Nijssen, Sales Specialist, Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Bus & Truck, ABB talked about smart and efficient bus-charging infrastructure. He provided details of ABB’s EV-charging infrastructure and its deployment across America and Europe. He described the three keys to an efficient charging infrastructure, which are depicted in Figure 6.


Figure 6: Keys to efficient charging infrastructure

Source: ABB




Dave Joshua, General Manager, Optibus spoke about the impact of next-generation platforms on the scheduling of hybrid and electric fleets. He talked about addressing new challenges, such as increasing electric miles and maintaining a low peak vehicle requirement (PVR), using the company’s solution.


Stefan Talen, Consultant, Electric Mobility, Sustainable Urban Mobility & Safety, TNO spoke about TNO’s view on smart and sustainable mobility. He explained the process of establishing a safe, efficient, comfortable, and sustainable traffic and transport situation through balanced interaction between humans, vehicles, and the environment. He also explained the transition from diesel-operated buses to electric buses, which is depicted in Figure 7.


Figure 7: Transition from diesel buses to electric buses


Source: TNO Singapore


Further, he presented a vehicle-level analysis and comparison to explain the best choice for the deployment of clean buses based on a city’s circumstances, location, requirements, and other parameters. Later, he extended the analysis and comparison to the bus fleet size.


Deployment of Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Buses


Enrique Girón, Project Manager, Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) discussed the establishment of FCH JU, its objective, programme structure, projects undertaken, and strategic developments. FCH JU analyses supply and demand trends to develop market opportunities for fuel cell and hydrogen applications. Figure 8 depicts the milestones achieved by FCH JU.


Figure 8: Milestones achieved by FCH JU

Source: FCH JU  


Pedram Nadim, Project Manager, Hydrogen Fuel Cell Buses, Ruter AS, Norway spoke about the agency’s experiences with deployment of fuel cell buses in Oslo. The agency’s target is to be fossil free by 2020 and emission free by 2028. Ruter participated in the EU fuel cell bus project CHIC during 2010-16 and JIVE in 2018. The agency faced several challenges during the CHIC project due to low technical availability. Some of the lessons learnt included that hydrogen-fuelled buses are not a mature technology, not fully flexible, extra operating cost, etc. In 2019, Ruter will expand to 115 electric buses.   


Sabrine Skiker, EU Policy and Communication Manager, Hydrogen Europe, Belgium discussed the joint initiative for hydrogen vehicles across Europe (JIVE) project. Ms Skiker talked about the commitments made by various cities across Europe for the deployment of zero-emission buses, the EU’s support for such initiatives, the deployment of hydrogen buses in Europe, and how JIVE differs from other EU-supported projects (such as CHIC, 3Emotion, etc.). She also explained how the costs of the fuel cell bus have fallen significantly and how further  reductions in cost (which are anticipated by experts) help in making commercially viable offers. This is depicted in Figure 9.


Figure 9: Capital costs of fuel cell buses                                                                                                                 

Source: Hydrogen Europe


She concluded the presentation by highlighting hydrogen bus projects in Germany, Italy, and the UK, the lessons learnt, the risks and challenges involved, and the key takeaways.


Perspective from the Netherlands                                                      


Els de Wit, Deputy Head, Sustainable Mobility - Directorate General for Mobility, Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management, The Netherlands spoke about the Netherland’s national plan to deploy zero-emission buses by 2025 and the key issues and challenges involved in the deployment of zero-emission buses, which include cost, the setting up of urban and rural bus lines, and the establishing of the necessary charging infrastructure. She also discussed the deployment of hydrogen buses and the infrastructure required for this in the Netherlands.


Perspective from Finland                                              


Nils-Olof Nylund, Senior Advisor, Engine and Vehicle Emissions, VTT Technical Research Centre, Finland discussed the centre’s experience of monitoring bus performance. The VTT Technical Research Centre, Finland and Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) have been assessing and documenting the performance of city buses for more than 15 years.


He discussed how HSL is using the bus-related data for the tendering of bus services and for developing future bus fleet strategies, the methodology and equipment used to collect data, the test cycles used for the collection of data related to buses, examples of results from VTT’s database, the field testing of Euro VI buses, and the fleet strategy of HSL.


Perspective from the UK 


Daniel Hayes, Project Manager, Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) discussed the role of low, ultra-low and zero-emission buses across the UK and the contribution of LowCVP in reducing GHG emissions. He highlighted the government’s National Retrofit Scheme, the UK Low Carbon Bus Policy, and UK Bus Funding, all of which support the deployment of clean buses. Figure 10 provides details of the UK bus market in 2018.


Figure 10: UK Bus Market (2018)

Source: LowCVP


Mark Poulton, Vehicle Technology Manager / Principal Technical Specialist, Transport for London, UK spoke about London’s plans and initiatives to deploy clean buses and the resulting challenges. He highlighted the emissions-related challenges faced by London, the mayor’s transport strategy, and the city’s focus on zero-emission buses and ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs), London’s EV-charging infrastructure plan, its energy strategy, and the research projects undertaken for the deployment of electric vehicles.


Patrick Warner, Head of Innovation & Strategy, Brighton & Hove Buses I Metrobus | Spirit of Sussex Coaches, Part of the Go Ahead Group, UK spoke about the company’s plans for the deployment of a zero-emission fleet by 2030. He discussed the initiatives taken by the authority for the deployment of clean buses and why they are investing in fuel cell electric buses.


James Freeman, Managing Director, First West of England, First Group, UK spoke about the company’s presence in the UK and the First Group’s diverse experience in the deployment of clean buses across the UK. The company has deployed hydrogen buses in Aberdeen and diesel–electric hybrids buses in Glasgow, Leeds, and Bath. Under the East Bristol scheme, the company is investing in buses fuelled by biomethane.


Outlook for the European Bus Market


Thibaut Müller, Associate Partner, McKinsey & Company concluded the conference by presenting an overview of the European bus market. He provided insights into the sales of city buses based on the size of the city, fluctuation in the sales of hydrogen buses, public demand for the deployment of clean buses, the expansion of Chinese manufacturers in the European bus market, and public demand for the deployment of autonomous vehicles.




The conference provided a platform for discussing the current status of, emerging trends in, and future outlook for the deployment of clean buses across Europe. Electric buses and natural gas buses are the most preferred types of clean buses in the region. The participants were able to learn about the policies of governments, the plans of transit agencies, new case studies on technology deployment in transit, the lessons learnt, and upcoming trends and opportunities.