04.10.2023 - Green technology, Innovation

Pioneers in hydrogen-powered public transport

Rīgas satiksme – the municipally-owned public transportation and infrastructure company serving Riga – currently owns 10 hydrogen-powered trolleybuses. They have now been in operation for four years and serve the Riga citizens and city’s guests every day. According to Rīgas satiksme representatives, they are the first vehicles of this type not only in the Baltic region, but far across its borders.

Along with the purchase of trolleybuses in the city, a hydrogen production and filling station was also installed. It serves trolleybuses and is available for every other form of transport that needs hydrogen.

“This concept of trolleybuses provides better flexibility, makes less noise, creates zero emissions, and is more energy efficient”, explains Baiba Bartaševiča-Feldmane, the Head of Public Relations. As the company’s representatives emphasise, this is also the cleanest zero-emissions vehicle because only distilled water is produced when hydrogen burns. “Using hydrogen fuel cells as range extenders enables the trolleybus system to increase its reach beyond the current network and provide resilience against potential electricity grid blackouts.”

According to Bartaševiča-Feldmane, the filling time of a hydrogen vehicle is similar to the filling of fuel in an internal combustion engine car. For example, the Rīgas satiksme hydrogen trolleybus can travel up to 150 kilometres with a 1-10 minute refuelling time. By contrast, hydrogen-powered electric cars can drive about 600 km after being filled for 3-5 minutes.

Moving forward

Currently, the municipality has stopped at the existing number of hydrogen trolleybuses, but the progress toward clean public transport goes on.

“Some time ago, we conducted market research on the purchase of hydrogen transport, but only one applicant showed an interest. For the time being, we have postponed the idea of a new hydrogen transport and are waiting to see how these technologies develop”, says Bartaševiča-Feldmane.

But the renovation of the public transport park is gradually underway. Rīgas satiksme is carefully preparing to fulfil the decarbonization goals set by both the city and the company, so it’s thinking not only about emission-free transport, but also the use of clean transport energy in public sector, ensuring the sustainable development of the company.

According to Bartaševiča-Feldmane, battery technologies are now developing very fast and, at the end of last year, the company concluded a contract for the purchase of 35 new electric buses for more than €19 million, with the possibility of purchasing 17 additional electric buses. It is expected that Riga will receive the electric buses by the end of this year.

Replacing older models

But there is still a lot of work ahead. About 400 buses are now involved in passenger transportation every day. As green components will become mandatory in public transport from 2024, almost 250 buses must be replaced in the next few years by new ones that meet the environmental requirements and the current understanding of quality service.

“The renewal plans of the rolling stock of Rīgas satiksme will bring about the gradual replacement of vehicles. The delivery of these vehicles is important to us because they provide a more comfortable ride by reducing the noise level and vibration in the cabin. For the convenience of passengers and drivers, the new buses are also equipped with a sliding platform and climate control equipment, thus ensuring comfort during trips both in summer and in winter. What’s more, renovating the fleet will help to reduce bus operating expenses and the amount of harmful emissions in the environment”, adds the company representative.

This feature is reproduced from Baltic Business Magazine by kind permission of the German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. You can see the official website and read the Baltic Business Quarterly magazine on App Store or Google Play.

Author: Žanete Hāka, Delfi Bizness, exclusively for Baltic Business Quarterly
Publicity photo

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