On 15 December, 2011, the European Commission officially hand over the “European Green Capital” title from Hamburg, Germany to Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, further promoting sustainable transport initiatives throughout Europe. During the Ceremony EU Commissioner for Environment Janez Potocnik passes the “Green Book” from Michael Sachs of Hamburg, to Javier Maroto Aranzabal.
This exciting event marks the third year of the European Green Capital initiative, which recognises the important position local authorities play in improving the environment. With four out of five people living in urban areas throughout Europe today, promoting and showcasing best practice in cities is an excellent way to exchange ideas, strike up “friendly competition” and provide inspiration for green growth.
Beginning in 2010, Stockholm, Sweden, became the first European Green Capital with its high standards of sustainable transport and ambitious targets for greenhouse gas reduction. The city has seen a 75% increase in cycling over the past ten years and a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels. Its fleet of renewably-fuelled trains and inter-city buses, along with the “Clean Vehicles in Stockholm” initiative – where one in three cars sold in the city are clean – makes such goals possible. Further, through development of a “Professional Study Tour” programme in 2010, Stockholm has shown leadership in exchanging ideas and inspiration for sustainable urban growth.
The Clean Hydrogen In European Cities Project was officially launch in November 2010, and more than a year later the project has seen extensive progress in each of the cities and regions involved. Public transport operations of Fuel Cell Hydrogen (FCH) Buses commenced in Cologne, Hamburg, and London. While Oslo and Aargau have begun testing their first buses, Milan is expecting their first buses delivered before the end of 2011.
The CHIC project has established an important milestone for hydrogen infrastructure developments within the past year. Although a few cities are able to utilize existing refuelling facilities, new hydrogen stations have been completed and in service in Cologne and London; progress is being seen on the building of new hydrogen stations and production facilities in Hamburg, Oslo, Aargau, Milan, and Bolzano/Bozen.
Let us not forget our transatlantic friends in Whistler, Canada who have continued and improved their fleet of 20 FCH buses in regular operation.
In November 2011, Aargau’s first Fuel Cell Hydrogen Bus was delivered and began driver testing and training. The training for driving intructors of the PostBus Fuel Cell Hydrogen (FCH) bus began 28th of October, bus manufacturer and supplier of the FCH buses in Aargau, Daimler EvoBus conducted training of local driving instructors. Following the PostBus driving instructors trained the individual drivers.
Prior to the practical training, the drivers were able to take part in an online theoretical course that covered, FCH vehicle technology, presenting the differences between the conventional combustion engine and the Fuel Cell, important aspects of the high voltage and fuel cell system were highlighted as well as instruction on hydrogen behavior, fuel quality, safety and refuelling.
During the test drives the drivers experienced the FCH bus for the first time, with the opportunity, the CHIC dissemination team took the time to get to know the drivers and their first impressions of the new bus, the driving method, and what they think of the CHIC project in Switzerland. In an interview with the Mr. Tom Krieger, PostBus driver Mr. Krieger responds on his first impressions of driving the hydrogen bus, “It is a very nice ride, because it is does not have the vibrations and shakes of the combustion engine. It is much more powerful than I expected from an electric vehicle.”