In March 2020, in a tender launched by German operator Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH (RVK), Solaris Bus & Coach was selected to supply 15 state-of-the-art Solaris Urbino 12 hydrogen buses. The first of the hydrogen vehicles has already been delivered and is being tested in the RVK branch in Wermelskirchen in the Rheinisch-Bergisches Kreis district. The remaining 14 hydrogen buses will make their way to Germany by the end of the year.
Solaris Bus & Coach has delivered the first of a total of 15 hydrogen buses ordered in 2020 by German public transport operator Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH (RVK). Currently, RVK’s drivers are undergoing training in refuelling processes, the specifics of the hydrogen drive, and the technology used in the hydrogen bus. The Solaris Urbino 12 hydrogen is the first hydrogen-powered vehicle delivered by the manufacturer to this region. In the end, all of the ordered buses will be deployed to three locations where RVK operates. Five of them will be put into service in the Rheinisch-Bergisches Kreis district, another five will go to the Rhein-Sieg district on the left bank of the Rhine, and the remaining five will ply their trade in the city of Hürth.
The hydrogen-powered Solaris buses have been purchased as part of an EU project called JIVE 2, with the support of “The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking”, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), and thanks to the NIP2 programme (National Innovation Programme Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology) and the support of the Ministry of Transport of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The first of the eco-friendly Solaris Urbino 12 hydrogen vehicles delivered to Germany uses a set of 70 kW fuel cells. Thanks to the advanced technology featured in it, the bus is capable of covering up to 350 km on a single refill, which is of particular importance for RVK’s network. Apart from densely populated city districts, the vehicles will also service vast rural areas. The hydrogen bus has been equipped with a Solaris High Power traction battery that boosts the fuel cell in moments of increased demand for electric power. The battery is recharged using energy derived from hydrogen and energy recovered during braking. In turn, electric power produced via electrolysis propels an axle with integrated electric motors. The hydrogen needed to propel the bus is stored in gaseous form in tanks placed above the first axle.
The bus offers over 30 seats on board and features a door layout of 2-2-0. Passengers and drivers will benefit from a comfortable and safe ride due to air-conditioning throughout the vehicle with a heat pump, modern CCTV and passenger information systems, as well as due to USB ports placed in the passenger compartment so they can recharge their mobile devices. Moreover, drivers will take advantage of a series of innovative solutions facilitating their work and improving the safety of passengers and other road users. The MobilEye Shield+ system installed in the vehicle helps to detect possible collision risks. Thanks to cameras placed outside of the vehicle, the device will alert the driver to other road users near or moving closer to the bus, which is particularly important when turning.
Hydrogen-powered Solaris buses boasting an innovative configuration are some of the most technologically advanced vehicles available on the market presently. The order, which has already seen the first Solaris Urbino 12 hydrogen bus make its way to Cologne, is not the first contract the manufacturer has signed for buses with a hydrogen drive. At around the same time German operator WSW Mobil GmbH from Wuppertal placed an order for 10 vehicles of the same type. What is more, Solaris will deliver 12 hydrogen buses to Italian operator SASA Bolzano and 20 such units to Dutch operator Connexxion, providing transport services for the province of South Holland, by the end of 2021.