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Asian Development Bank

50 climate solutions from cities in the People's Republic of China


The new hydrogen-powered bus fleet in Foshan is a product of years of collaboration and innovation between government departments, and offers a breath of fresh air for citizens on the move.

Foshan is a large, manufacturing city in Guangdong Province, with a bus fleet that has been converted to zero emissions – the product of hydrogen fuel cells. It follows a ten year collaborative initiative between the National Reform and Development Commission, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Science and Technology and international agencies to develop and commercialize fuel cell vehicles in the PRC. Entering the third phase and supported by a national hydrogen fuel cell subsidy scheme, Foshan received twelve fuel cell buses to pilot the innovative technology. The fleet will eventually contain 330 eleven-meter-long buses, each with a capacity of around 80 people.


The buses convert tanks of hydrogen to gas and electricity, used to power the vehicles, producing only water vapor and oxygen as waste products. With a short recharging time and 300-km range, the buses provide an effective alternative to electric vehicles and traditional fossil-fuelled vehicles. The city is now planning to replicate the technology in a light rail project, expected to be deployed later this year, bringing economic benefits for the bus company through reduced electricity costs.

Foshan’s new hydrogen-powered buses are cleaning up the air for the city’s 7.5 million citizens.
Foshan’s new hydrogen-powered buses are cleaning up the air for the city’s 7.5 million citizens.

The Challenge

Like many other cities in Guangdong province, Foshan suffers from suffocating air pollution, and in 2016 there were an average of 29 hazy days across the region. Schemes like this are helping to improve the situation, and are already having a positive effect, as air quality in 2016 was the cleanest since 1989.


Economic Converting buses in the fleet to fuel-cell vehicles involved localized commercial production of the fuel cells, including a local fuel-cell bus manufacturing facility, stimulating the local economy.

Health Zero tailpipe emissions from the hydrogen buses greatly helps with air pollution in the city, the majority of which is caused by polluting diesel vehicles.

Social The new bus fleet has been praised as providing outstanding passenger comfort.