Green transport

Hydrogen fuel cell buses?! And what is the Green Bus Program?

07. 06. 2022.


The “greening” of transport is not only a priority for reducing emissions and mitigating climate change, but also contributes to clean air and thus a healthier environment. In order to put transport on a renewable foundation, the Green Bus Program was established in Hungary, with aim to replace the obsolete, polluting bus fleet of public transport, to encourage domestic bus production and to improve the quality of travel services.


Transport related CO2 emissions


Transport is responsible for one third of the European Union’s total energy consumption, and a quarter of its total greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast to GHG emissions from electricity generation and industry, emissions from the transport sector have not been reduced in recent decades and therefore pose a serious challenge to meet climate protection goals. 70% of total emissions from transport are due to road transport (cars, buses, lorries). Transport is also a significant source of air and noise pollution. In order to achieve emission reduction objectives and clean, green transport, special attention must be paid to the spread of zero-emission, green means of transport.


Figure 1. CO2 emissions in Europe between 1990 and 2019 related to different sectors


Hungary’s National Energy and Climate Plan sets a renewable share of at least 14% in transport by 2030. In addition, the development and increase of the use of public transport is of paramount importance. The transport sector is responsible for almost a fifth of Hungary’s total emissions, the vast majority of which can be attributed to road transport. Therefore, the replacement of old, polluting buses with low-emission (eg CNG) or zero-emission electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles is essential to achieve the objectives. To this end, the Green Bus Program was established, which will be coordinated by the HUMDA Hungarian Motorsport and Green Mobility Development Agency from 1 September 2021.


Green Bus Project


The first step towards zero-emission green buses, was the Green Bus Demonstration Pilot Project, which involved electric buses in several large rural cities with the aim of introducing them to the drivers and the travelers to let them experience the operation of electric buses. In the end, a total of 14 cities took part in this project, and during the test runs, valuable experience was gained from the electric vehicles of several bus manufacturers (eg BYD, MAN, Mercedes, Ikarus).


Figure 2. The Mercedes eCitaro bus tested in Zalaegerszeg in the Green Bus Demonstrational Pilot Project


The first call for tender proposals of the Green Bus Program was for the purchase of electric vehicles (electric buses and trolleybuses) and the construction of the related charging infrastructure. The tender closed on 31 May 2021 and the applicants won funding for the purchase of a total of 123 electric buses and 4 self-propelled trolleybuses. Thanks to this, modern, emission-free electric buses will run in Eger, Győr, Miskolc, Pécs, Szeged, Székesfehérvár, Szolnok, Veszprém, Zalaegerszeg and the southern Budapest agglomeration.


Tenders for the next proposals may be submitted from 5 May to 30 September 2022. The program continues to aim to replace outdated, high-emission buses with electric buses. The tender is open to cities with a population of more than 25,000 and to municipalities or public transport service providers within the 100 km catchment area of ​​Budapest.


Hydrogen fuel cell transport


A demonstration project organized by HUMDA took place between 11 February 2022 and 7 March 2022, in the framework of which a hydrogen fuel cell bus traveled between Budapest and Vecsés. Hydrogen-powered transport is a new technology in Hungary.


Hydrogen fuel cell buses are hybrid electric vehicles that contain a hydrogen fuel cell and a battery/capacitor as well. An electrochemical reaction in the fuel cell generates electricity and, as a by-product, water and heat, so no emissions occur locally. In cases where a lower range and a slow charge time are disadvantage, the hydrogen fuel cell has a chance to trigger diesel propulsion. Hydrogen fuel cell buses have been running in major Western European cities since 2010 thanks to various pilot projects, and the development and diffusion of technology is expected to accelerate in the coming years, spreading not in place of, but in addition to battery solutions.


Image sources:

(1) International Energy Agency

(2) HUMDA Hungarian Motorsport and Green Mobility Development Agency

(3) Villanyautó


Author: Orsolya Kovács, eNET’s energetic consultant