Field Notes: CUTRIC’s Zero Emission Bus Conference delves into batteries versus fuel cell technology
by CM Staff
Multiple presenters were keen on emphasizing that in order to adopt fuel cell technology in the future, agencies needed to understand their infrastructure plans, including their space, capital and energy constraints today.
On Mar. 29, CUTRIC held their Zero Emission Bus Technology & Transit Operation Conference, inviting transit authorities, bus manufacturers and energy companies across North America to present on their pandemic year, and what the future of public transit will look like.
One of the hottest topics was the advent and improvement of fuel cell technology and its recent growth in 2021. New Flyer Industries was asked about their electrified fleet and how useful and applicable fuel cell technology currently was, and Jennifer McNeill, VP of Sales & Marketing at NFI was clear in her response.
“It’s clear to us that fuel cell technology is real. Over the last 12 months, interest in fuel cell technology has really grown. I’m not sure if it will be a 50/50 split between battery and fuel cell technology, but I can certainly see 70/30 being possible, at least in the next five years.”
Another key finding of the CUTRIC conference was how fast zero emission buses were growing across North America, and how quickly they have become the industry standard for transit authorities. The US zero emission bus market share is expected to go from 5% to 50% by 2025 according to a Parsons Corporation presentation.
New Flyer has already begun transitioning some of its fleet to use hydrogen fuel cell technology, informing conference attendees that approximately 10% of New Flyer’s zero emission bus fleet will be fuel cell electric by 2022.
Fuel cell technology continues to develop as a viable alternative due to their increased range, and Cathy Wilson, Senior VP of Parsons, believes airports are an emerging market for fuel cell technology due to EV autonomous capabilities and the increased range required on their grounds.
Ballard Power also delivered a strong presentation on the latest research in making fuel cell technology more efficient to drive its adoption and commercial viability. Their findings showed that fuel cell technology is not only not going away, and in order for transit authorities to take advantage of the zero-emission transformations, they needed to begin planning the infrastructure for it today.
Multiple presenters were keen on emphasizing that in order to adopt fuel cell technology in the future, agencies needed to understand their infrastructure plans, including their space, capital and energy constraints today and build for the future.
Zero emission EV manufacturers and technology companies continue a strong bounce back from the pandemic, and key Canadian players participating in the CUTRIC conference on Mar. 29 are an indication that they will not be left out of fuel cell technology development in 2021.