Oslo is the capital of Norway and has a population of 1.1 million inhabitants. The city is confronted to the same growing mobility challenges as other European cities: air pollution, CO2 emissions, congestion and noise .The municipality of Oslo and the Akershus County Council (regional entity for the surrounding region) are at the forefront of sustainable mobility: Oslo is a signatory of the Covenant of Mayors since 2009, and has set ambitious targets for the transport sector as a whole (a 20% transport emissions reductions by 2030) and for public transport in particular: all bus operations shall be fossil free by 2020, and a 50% increase of the public transport share in the city by 2030. On hydrogen, The Norwegian region of Akershus, which includes the capital Oslo, has adopted a hydrogen strategy for 2014-2025.

The city is successfully working on its modal shift: in 2014, 1/3 of all motorised journeys made were made by public transport.

Ruter As

Ruter As is a public management company for public transport in Oslo and Akershus in Norway, covering over 20 municipalities. Ruter started operations on 1 January 2008, following a merger of previous administration companies AS Oslo Sporveier and Stor-Oslo Lokaltrafikk a.s. (SL).The company is owned by Oslo municipality (60 %) and Akershus County Council (40 %). Ruter plans, commissions and markets the public transport in Oslo and Akershus, while the operation and maintenance of the buses are sub-contracted to other companies (PTOs).

1,162 buses were operated under Ruter contracts in 2014, achieving 319 million journeys. The buses have various lengths (7-10m Midi buses to 18m articulated buses). 401 (35%) of these can be classified as “green buses” that run on electricity, use hybrid solutions or biofuel, or alternatively biodiesel for at least 50% of the time on an annual basis. The share of green buses will increase to 529 out of 1,200 (44%) based on the contracts which have been entered into for 2015.

Ruter plans to achieve the city and region goal of powering all public transport using renewable energy sources in 2020 through the project Fossil Free 2020.

Local/regional partners involved

The project is co-financed by the municipality of Oslo, the Akershus County Council, Transnova and The Norwegian Research Council.

Fuel cell buses in operation today in Oslo

Five 13.2 m fuel cell buses (Van Hool) entered daily service gradually since April 2013, following the official launch of the project in 2012. The Oslo buses drive on suburban-urban routes, with a mix of flat and hilly topography and the temperatures in winter are low.

The buses originally operated on a 20km route (48 stops) on line 81, at an average speed of 20 km/h. However, the bus operator was then allowed to use the buses on any other suitable line. The buses drive between 200 and 290 km a day and are up to 17 hours in service.

More on the bus specifications here.

The fuel cell bus project was shortlisted for the 2014 Transnova price. More on this here.

Bus workshop

A former wash hall was converted into a single bay workshop. You can find here pictures of the bus workshop along with pictures of additional infrastructure built as part of the project.

The hydrogen refuelling station

  • was built by Air Liquide and entered in service in 2012
  • is located at the bus depot, where the buses are located and the workshop was built.
  • has a capacity of production of 250kg hydrogen/day
  • has a total storage capacity of 320 kg hydrogen
  • shows a high level of availability (>92%)
  • shows a short refuelling time: 10 minutes in average

More information about the refuelling station specifications here

H2 source/production

On-site generation by electrolysis  of water (green hydrogen). It has to be noted that in Oslo, only green energy sources are allowed to be used to generate hydrogen as a fuel.

Next steps

In June 2015, Ruter has released a report on “Renewable energy powertrains options for Ruter”. This report explains that bus contracts representing about 60 % of Ruter’s bus fleet will come to an end before 2021, and could therefore be available for powertrain change. Ruter’s view is that electric buses (including fuel cell buses) are particularly promising:  1/3 of the bus fleet shall be fully electric by 2025.

Oslo has also indicated its commitment to integrate further fuel cell buses to its bus fleet by signing a Letter of Understanding, along with some 30 other cities and regions, at the occasion of the TEN-T days in Riga on 23 June 2015.

Local dissemination materials

Ruter has developed a leaflet describing the project is Oslo available here for download (in Norwegian). A marketing campaign was launched before the start of operation of the buses. Materials of the campaign are available here, along with the video produced in 2013.

Source: Ruter annual report 2014, Ruter website, report “renewable energy powertrain options for Ruter” and project’s results.

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