– Trial ended in March 2014 – Final NREL performance report available here –
Whistler is a mountain resort community located 120 kilometres north of Vancouver, in the Province of British Columbia, Canada. The Whistler Blackcomb ski area is a world-renowned ski resort and has the largest skiable area in North America, with an annual snowfall of 12 metres. It was the Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. In 2008, the Province of British Columbia introduced regulations requiring all public sector organizations to be carbon neutral.
BC Transit (BCT) is the Provincial Crown Agency charged with coordinating the delivery of public transportation throughout British Columbia (outside the Metro Vancouver regional). Every year BCT carries about 51 million passengers with a fleet of over 1000 buses. BCT is a leader in testing and implementing new lower-carbon vehicles and technologies. BCT fleet includes seven hybrid electric buses, including the first hybrid double-deck bus in North America, a fleet of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses. BCT promotes intermodality, connecting the bus network with other transport modes, allowing bicycles on board with no extra charge. In addition, most buses are equipped with bike racks. More information on BCT sustainability actions here.
In addition to CHIC, BCT has been involved in fuel cell buses demonstration for more than a decade: BCT was a partner in the HyFLEET:CUTE (2006-2010) and the CUTE projects (2000-2006). More information on BCT sustainability actions here.
The 20 fuel cell buses were operated between January 2010 and March 2014. During the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the buses helped to provide BC Transit’s enhanced Games Time transit service in Whistler. After the Games, the buses were integrated into the Whistler Transit system, representing 87% of the Whistler fleet and operating up to 22 hours/day.The buses offered a range between 366 and 467 km (seasonal range). A new bus depot was built with six maintenance bays.
The Whistler hydrogen refueling station was located at the new bus depot, built by Air Liquide Canada in 2009. The station had a daily hydrogen fuelling capacity of 1000kg. Liquid hydrogen generated from hydro-electric power was trucked in from Quebec and stored in large tanks at the Whistler bus depot. During the refuelling process the liquid hydrogen was vaporized and delivered to the buses in gaseous form for on board storage at 350 bar.
The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) collaborated with BC Transit for the California Air Resources Board to release two reports on the performance of the buses in February 2014 (first evaluation report) and September 2014 (second evaluation report).
From BC Transit’s perspective, there have been many achievements for the demonstration, including the following:
The challenges and lessons learned from the demonstration included bus-related problems as well as programmatic issues:
BC Transit summarizes its key lessons learned for the project as follows:
The total budget of the demonstration project is $89.5 million, covering capital and associated operating costs to March 2014. The funding partners are:
*The funding from BCT and the Resort Municipality of Whistler reflects its contributions for 20 diesel vehicles and the estimated operating costs associated, over the five-year period. These represent incumbent operating costs including fuel, maintenance and drivers’ wages and benefits.