The NewBusFuel Project: Large Scale Hydrogen Refuelling for Bus Fleets

May 4, 2017

thinkstep conducted a techno-economic and environmental assessment of different concepts for the hydrogen refuelling infrastructure used for hydrogen fuel cell bus fleets

The NewBusFuel project: Large scale hydrogen refuelling for bus fleets

The NewBusFuel project: Large scale hydrogen refuelling for bus fleets

thinkstep conducted a techno-economic and environmental assessment of different concepts for the hydrogen refuelling infrastructure used for hydrogen fuel cell bus fleets. Individual solutions for large-scale hydrogen refuelling stations in 12 European cities were jointly developed by city specific teams including bus operators, industry partners, and local regulators.

These case studies were all subsequently analysed by thinkstep to summarise the results and to identify the key learnings. In order to make them available to wider stakeholders, this information is available in two documents:

  1. A guidance document for bus operators aiming for the implementation of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure;
  2. A strategy document summarising the high-level conclusions and providing recommendations for technology improvements. It also contains the conditions under which the technology can be successfully introduced and commercialised in the near future.

Hydrogen as a fuel for buses and other vehicles is considered one of the best options for removing emissions of both air pollutants and carbon dioxide from our transport needs. The technology is developing fast and we have seen early deployments of small fleets of buses and cars. 

One of the big questions remaining is how well hydrogen refuelling technology could scale up to meet the demands of mass scale transportation? This is particularly acute for buses, where busy bus depots can require huge quantities of fuel. The findings of the European NewBusFuel project were published recently and provide a definitive answer to this question.

The answer is clear - large scale hydrogen refuelling is both commercially and technically feasible.

The project was based on information provided by a consortium of 10 of Europe’s leading technology providers of hydrogen production and refuelling equipment. These industry players worked with 12 bus operators across Europe to develop bespoke designs for large scale refuelling systems for their bus depots. In each location, a suitable design was developed in consultation with bus operators and local regulators.

As a result, a wide range of engineering solutions was developed involving different supply modes (liquid/gaseous trailer delivery and on-site production from electrolysis and methane reformation). These covered hydrogen demands between 1,000 - 6,000 kg of hydrogen per day, corresponding to approximately 50 - 250 buses per depot investigated. Each of these technical solutions was able to meet the original design requirements defined within the case studies, demonstrating that hydrogen refuelling at these large scales can be affordable, reliable, and space efficient. 

The role of thinkstep was to undertake an in-depth analysis of the individual solutions developed for the different case studies in the NewBusFuel project. From this analysis major findings were derived, and shared with wider stakeholders by developing two comprehensive documents.

Guidance Document on Large Scale Hydrogen Bus Refuelling

This document assists bus operators to implement a large hydrogen refuelling station. It proposes a framework for planning and tendering an HRS through providing a range of indicative values for technical, economic, and environmental performance.  These values are based on the characteristics of the solutions that were developed within the NewBusFuel project. The values will allow operators to make first qualified estimations on key design parameters such as footprint, costs etc. 

High-Level Techno-Economic Summary Report

This document analyses the technical and economic performance of the solutions developed during the NewBusFuel project. Based on these solutions recommendations have been derived for three different stakeholder groups: bus operators, policy-makers, as well as technology suppliers and the hydrogen community. These recommendations are intended to guide technical and economic improvements to make hydrogen technologies even more competitive. 

Both documents can be downloaded here and from the NewBusFuel project website ( and

This project received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 671426. The Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, the New European Research Grouping on Fuel Cells and Hydrogen (“N.ERGHY”) and the Industry Grouping Hydrogen Europe.


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