Berlin is the capital of Germany, and has a population of 3.5 Million inhabitants. Berlin is a signatory of the Covenant of Mayors since 2010 and has set itself the CO2 emission reduction target of 40% by 2020 compared to 2005. Berlin’s Mobility programme 2016 (“Mobilitätsprogramme”) includes key measures, aiming a reaching out this target and improving the city’s air and noise quality and its traffic: improvement of the transport infrastructure, noise reduction in public transport, enhancement of the use of non-motorised transport modes (walking and cycling), reduction of local air pollution produced by transport (with measures such as retrofitting old vehicles, support of electromobility from renewable energy sources, support of public transport use and carsharing schemes.

Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe- BVG

BVG was founded in 1928 and became a public entity in 1938. The company employs some 12,600 employees today, who take care of the 1,300 buses, 400 trams, 1,240 underground railways and ferry boats. BVG transport some 937 million passengers a year (2011) across Berlin, night and day. The bus fleet has different types of buses from 12m buses to double decker and articulated buses. The 149 bus lines provide a service of 300,000 km/day.

BVG is the official partner within CHIC, exchanging experience and data with CHIC partners and other interested parties.

Berlin, pioneer in hydrogen bus trials – HyFLEET:CUTE

In Berlin, the operation of hydrogen buses started under the European co-funded project HyFLEET:CUTE. In 2006, four hydrogen buses with an aspirated engine of the bus manufacturer MAN started their operation. A hydrogen maintenance shop was built for the fleet in 2006, along with a hydrogen refuelling station, built at the bus depot by TOTAL. The fleet was extended in 2007 with the start of operation of 10 hydrogen buses with a turbo engine. Those buses were returned to MAN in 2009 due to technical failures (Injection valve failure).

Funding support scheme

The Clean Energy Partnership, a programme developed by NOW GmbH (National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology)’s National Innovation Programme (NIP) co-financed the operation and the maintenance of the four hydrogen buses and the workshop until 31 December 2014.

Hydrogen buses operation in Berlin

Four 12 m ICE hydrogen buses (natural aspired) from MAN operated between 2006 – on time for the FIFA World Cup – and December 2014. The buses drove on line 49 (9.8km length and 11 stops). The operating schedule was from 6.00 to 9.00 & 13.00 to 18.00, five days a week (Mo-Fr). Each bus covered the daily distance of 120km. The maximum range of the vehicle was 200 kms.

Hydrogen ICE bus vs. fuel cell electric bus

Even if the ICE hydrogen buses offer a cheaper option compared to fuel cell buses (low investment and maintenance costs), the majority of cities and bus OEMs are now favouring a fuel cell over the combustion engine option. The reason is the higher operating efficiency of a fuel cell (50-60% for a fuel cell vs 25-40% for a combustion engine), which means the vehicle range and overall fuel consumption is dramatically improved. Furthermore, hydrogen ICE buses are not fully emission free (NOx production) and do not tackle the noise issue.

Hence provided that the production cost of the fuel cell can be lowered, this is believed to be the preferred option if hydrogen fuel is to be used.


A workshop was newly built as part of the HyFLEET:CUTE project in 2006 with one bay for 12 m buses and one bay for articulated buses.

The hydrogen refuelling station

  • was located at Heerstraße and was a partly public refuelling station, with one part of the station inside the bus depot and another part outside the depot.
  • had been designed under the HyFLEET:CUTE project for 14 buses and several cars, including storage of liquid hydrogen
  • had a total storage capacity of 650 kg hydrogen
  • has a daily hydrogen capacity of 400kg hydrogen/day
  • showed a high availability and a short refuelling time (<10 minutes)

H2 source/production

SMR (Steam Methane Reforming) – External supply, delivered by truck

Source: city of Berlin, BVG and project results

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