Source: the original version of this case study can be found here.
In 2014, the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe in the north of the Netherlands received a subsidy from the Dutch government for the operation of two hydrogen-powered buses for regional public transport as part of a pilot project. Green hydrogen produced as a by-product in a chemical plant in the region could be used as fuel for these buses. A public-private consortium asked Total* to design, build, maintain and operate a cost-effective hydrogen filling station.
Green hydrogen pilot project
The pilot project serves as a test case for running buses on hydrogen. The hydrogen comes from the specialty chemicals company Nouryon (formerly part of AkzoNobel) as a by-product of chlorine production. The hydrogen is produced by electrolysis using electricity generated by wind power. As such it is renewable and green, which is unique for the Netherlands. It therefore made perfect sense to use this local green hydrogen for the project.
Public and private sector collaboration
In order to realise public transport by hydrogen bus in the region, a consortium was set up with parties from the public and private sectors. This included the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Province of Groningen, the Public Transport Agency Groningen-Drenthe, Qbuzz, AkzoNobel, and Groningen Seaports. The project was later connected to the European High V.LO-City programme co-funded by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH-JU). The aim of this programme is to accelerate the introduction of hydrogen cell buses.
For this project, the team had to overcome several challenges:
- The quality of the hydrogen had to be guaranteed.
- The delivery of the buses had to be coordinated with the completion of the refuelling station.
- The hydrogen refuelling station had to be realised as cost-effectively as possible.
In addition, close cooperation between Total* and Qbuzz in the operational phase was crucial for the success of the project. Only then is it possible to properly facilitate the refuelling of the buses. Communication about the availability of the buses and the refuelling station was also essential.
Oskar Voorsmit, business development manager hydrogen at Total: "In order to realise a cost-effective and well-functioning hydrogen station, we took on the role of system integrator. Meeting the requirements of the various stakeholders involved was very important. We designed a tailor-made station and were constantly looking for the right balance between the needs of the end users and the integral costs of the filling station".
During the formation of the consortium we were looking for a flexible and solution-oriented infrastructure partner. This project has become an international showcase for Qbuzz and for the entire Northern Netherlands region. Collaboration and trust are the basis of the success of this project. Total has proven to be a reliable partner, both in the project phase and in the daily operations.
Requests versus costs
"In the initial phase, we worked closely with the members of the consortium to identify the various possibilities and requirements. Based on this and after weighing up the requirements against the costs, we made a tailor-made design for the refuelling station in line with the available budget," thus Voorsmit.
PitPoint and now Total has been a professional and trustworthy partner in the rollout and operations of the hydrogen fuelling station. In addition, they are very nice people to work with.
From the beginning of 2018, the H2 station in Delfzijl has been operational and Qbuzz has been using the two hydrogen fuel cell buses for regular routes. The station has a high level of availability and the coordination between Qbuzz and Total is very good
* Total acquired PitPoint in 2017. In January 2020, PitPoint was merged into the Total organisation. This project was carried out under the brand name PitPoint.