IMAGE: HYDROGEN POWERED BUS
European Union
This hydrogen-powered bus, picking up passengers in Brussels, Belgium, is one of several dozen tested by Europe in recent years.
updated 5/11/2006 3:27:29 PM ET 2006-05-11T19:27:29

The European Commission said Thursday it is investing $61 million to expand a trial of clean fuels for public transport that should put about 200 hydrogen-powered vehicles on the road in cities in Europe, China and Australia.

“This project marks a milestone in the history of clean transport energy technology and opens the way to a new era of sustainable transport systems,” said European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

The project follows a three-year trial that placed 27 hydrogen-powered buses in service in nine European cities, carrying four million passengers and traveling 600,000 miles without incident. Piebalgs said it was a success showing that “the question is no longer whether this technology works, but when will it be competitive.”

Under the new program, 50 hydrogen-fueled buses will operate in five EU cities — Amsterdam, Barcelona, London, Luxembourg and Madrid — and in Beijing, the Australian city of Perth and the Icelandic capital Reykjavik. Smaller vehicles including cars, scooters, vans and wheelchairs will also be introduced in German, Italian, French and Spanish cities.

The project will cost a total of $134 million, the EU said, with other countries and companies also contributing.

In Beijing, three hydrogen fuel cell buses will operate. The project is being backed by British oil company BP PLC and a group of Chinese companies, the EU said. It may later be expanded to Shanghai.

“China has recognized that a transition to renewable energy sources can make a positive contribution to the economy,” said EU energy spokesman Ferran Tarradellas Espuny. “The development of the hydrogen infrastructure is of key interest for China.”

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