EC - Horizon 2020 logo

Large scale demonstration in preparation for a wider roll-out of fuel cell bus fleets (FCB) including new cities – Phase two - FCH-01-5-2017
Deadline: Apr 20, 2017  

 Energy Efficiency
 Intelligent Energy
 Urban Management
 Urban Development
 Sustainable Transport
 Clean Transport
 Urban transport

Specific Challenge:

Thanks to the earlier FCH JU projects (CHIC, High VLOCity, HyTransit, 3EMotion), the hybrid fuel cell bus has made a long way in the urban bus application which continues to show a lot of potential thanks to: a strong and innovative European bus industry; EU, national and local political mandates to reduce emissions and GHG and growing recognition by the operators to electric hybrid traction, in-house fuelling and maintenance.

A large number of cities and operators are prepared to sign-up for large scale demonstrations starting in 2018 and to offer a level playing field with other zero emission options, to meet the next step-change, in number of units, range of models and operational/climate conditions. The majority of European bus OEMs are gearing up to meet the challenge.

In order to further contribute and extend the uptake of fuel cell buses as the next step in the commercialisation process, the following specific challenges have to be met:

1. A further reduction of the capital cost of the fuel cell buses in line with increased volume (total and per site) while at the same time lowering the match funding and the EU contribution.

2. In order to drive the cost to a level of commercial competitiveness with other zero emission technologies, the programme will allow fuel cell buses to:

  • Eliminate technological barriers identified in previous projects, e.g. by optimizing the hybrid driveline (latest development of batteries in combination with next generation fuel cells) ;
  • Fully develop the necessary supply chains and value chains for related services, including availability of trained personnel, spare parts, etc…, in order to bring this technology on a par with conventional technologies.

3. Considering that most operators have procured or are in the process of procuring battery electric buses, the challenge for fuel cell buses will be to demonstrate the distinct operating advantages of fuel cell buses;

4. Reduce the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), including fuel, infrastructure and maintenance cost and put the value of societal benefits (environmental, health etc.) in the right perspective as a way to further the use of the technology;

5. Achieve quantified per kilometre well-to-wheel GHG reductions compared with other zero emission alternatives, based on the anticipated revised European Directive for Clean Vehicles [1].

6. Extend the range of potential bus models to all lengths between 9 and 24 meters, including double decker buses.

7. Include range extender models for heavy duty city bus use

8. Include different climate zones and city planning architecture, including interested regions where no FCB demonstration took place so far;

9. Provide answers to the operators as to the degree by which fuel cell buses meet or exceed the fleet operational requirements and expectations, in the different service conditions.

10. Identify and quantify the remaining barriers to market, including financing and merging options with other programmes and sources as well as a plan to implement

11. Provide a “greening pathway” for the production of hydrogen for this application

[1] 2009/33/EC


The project will demonstrate a fleet of minimum 125 fuel cell buses and their associated hydrogen infrastructure.

The model range may include urban buses (M3 heavy duty, class 1 or 2) with lengths from 9 m midi buses, 10-12m double decker buses and up to 24m double articulated buses.

The project shall include distinct climate zones as well as different city architecture (including bridges, tunnels, bus lanes etc), with the aim of clearly showing the degree of coping with a vast number of operational challenges.

All buses shall be hybrid (fuel cells and batteries) with brake energy regeneration features.

All buses deployed should have a high level of standardisation between the different bus models offering as a way to lower the cost, increase the acceptance level and facilitate the aftersales service. One of the lessons learned in previous projects is the importance of operator’s involvement from the start to embrace the technology in daily operation. The buses are expected to be close to commercial readiness from both a technical maturity and an economic perspective. Prototypes or small initial series may be procured in the programme subject to the terms of the tender.

To achieve the projected result, at least 100 of the buses will be deployed in larger fleets, these will have a minimum fleet size of 10 buses, and at least 3 of these cities will be deployed in fleets of 20 or more. In addition, up to 5 sites shall procure at least 5 buses. It is recommended to consortium to seek additional source of funding for the related HRS. The buses will be demonstrated for a period of at least 36 months or 150,000 km in operational service and continue service after the project has ended (e.g. the bids could include a commitment as to the minimum period to continue the service after the project has ended). New hydrogen infrastructure or upgrades of existing HRS will also be created.

Buses should have min fuel cell output of 30 kW. Buses below 10m length can be equipped with a fuel cell of minimum of 20 kW.


  • The following is generally applicable for 12m fuel cell bus as defined. These requirements shall serve as a reference guide for other lengths and specifications, which will be stated in the proposals.
  • Capital price of a 12m bus (as defined in the call) will be less than €625,000 as per referenced general definition [2] and for sites with minimum 20 units. Other lengths with deviations (both minus or plus) in acceptable price ratios to 12m and subject to tender conditions.
  • Average monthly fleet availability of the buses will be 90% (technical availability after first 6 months as per referenced formula [3])
  • Hydrogen consumption of 7-9 kg/100 km (combined SORT 1 and 2 for 12m bus)
  • Fuel cell system MDBF) > 3500 km
  • Tank-to-wheel efficiency > 42% (in SORT 1 and 2 cycles)
  • Guaranteed fuel cell stack life (before replacement) of 20,000 hours

Series production ability as a result of the project will has to be demonstrated. Buses shall be certified to operate in regular service.

Hydrogen Refuelling Stations (HRS):

  • HRS developed under earlier programmes shall show integration of concept and cost down potential of hydrogen storage and production for larger fleets as well as the potential to scale up the capacity;
  • The cost of dispensed hydrogen offered needs to be consistent with the national or regional strategy on hydrogen prices, if existing. A cost improvement due to increased production capacity and higher utilisation of the HRS is expected.
  • Hydrogen purity at least 99.999 %
  • HRS capacity according to fleet requirements, depending on the fleet models and mix, which may be provided by one or more HRSs
  • HRS availability >98%
  • Hydrogen price to be maximum 9 €/kg.
  • At least 60% of the H2 provided to the FCBs must be coming from renewable energy by the end of the project.

The consortium should include multiple bus service providers/operators, refuelling infrastructure providers/operators, fuel retailers, industrial players, local and regional bodies, as appropriate and relevant to the effective delivery of the project.

Proposals should clearly demonstrate the commitment of OEMs to supply vehicles to the project. The involvement of SMEs is encouraged.

TRL level shall be 8 for the buses and TRL level for the HRS shall be at least 8 (at beginning of the project).

Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD (dedicated mailbox

The maximum FCH 2 JU contribution that may be requested is EUR 25 million. This is an eligibility criterion – proposals requesting FCH 2 JU contribution above this amount will not be evaluated.

A maximum of 1 project may be funded under this topic.

Expected duration: 6 years

[2] General bus definition (in relation to defined price limit): Basic 12m low entry, class 1 city bus, with 2 doors, air conditioning, min. 30 seats, traction batteries and hybrid drive manually operated handicapped ramp, delivered ex-factory OEM. All IT equipment (except destination signs) delivered by the operator. Extras for special equipment excluded.

[3] Bus fleet availability : Availability F= (∑ (hours State 1)/(∑ (hours State 1) +∑ (hours State 2)). In which: State 1 = total number of hours that the bus is in operation; State 2 = total number of hours that the bus is out of service for technical reasons to be assumed by the bus OEM.

Expected Impact:

The programme is building on the 2016 bus topic call – phase 1 objectives to achieve the next and important step to commercialisation, as defined in the Roland Berger Strategy Consultants’ study “Fuel Cell Electric Buses – Potential for Sustainable Public Transport in Europe”.

The programme has the potential to bridge the gap to full commercialisation in the 2020-22 timeframe.

The specific impact is to show:

  • data illustrating the degree that cost reductions have been achieved or are achievable, such that the Total cost of ownership of fuel cell buses is or will become competitive to other zero emission technologies (measured on a level playing field conditions) ;
  • contribute to significant further capital cost reduction; enable start investments in European production facilities for further ramp-up in European markets;
  • reinforce European supply chain of critical key components by e.g. core components of FC and H2 storage systems to be produced in Europe. Terms in the proposal and/or tenders for the procurement of buses must include arrangements for bus OEMs and their technology suppliers to provide this information.
  • take advantage of the benefits of renewables as part of the overall EU objective with the transport sector being a prime debtor. With conversion options of redundant electricity from sun and wind energy into hydrogen, and P2G possibilities, hydrogen and fuel cell buses, have the potential to make the business case.
  • extend to both larger fleets (“leaders”) and allow curious but cautious cities to join (“followers”) thereby initiating an important mainstream process ;
  • make use of the industrial and innovative lead position of the European bus industry and enhance the local value chain.

The indicative target is that FCH JU funding per bus would not exceed €1800 per kW gross output of the fuel cell, in line with the MAWP targets.

The project should envisage and show evidence of co-funding [4] from other EU, national, regional or private sources in order to demonstrate a strong commitment towards clean propulsion and emission free public transport. Any such co-funding should be fully secured before the signature of the grant agreement to ensure timely realisation of the project.

Proposers should provide a clear evidence of political support for the project together with commitment to further involvement in the roll out should be provided as part of the proposal, through a Letter of Intent a comprehensive exploitation plan for the project should also form part of the proposal.

[4] According to Article 37 of REGULATION (EU) No 1290/2013 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 11 December 2013 laying down the rules for participation and dissemination in "Horizon 2020 - the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020)" and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1906/2006

Public link:   Only for registered users

Looking for a partnership?
Have a look at
Ma Région Sud!