The World Business Council for Sustainable Development predicts that 6% of the cars in the U.S. will be hydrogen powered by 2020. By 2050, the number could approach 100%. To this end, Shell Hydrogen B.V., in partnership with Connexxion Holding N.V. and MAN Truck & Bus Co. N.V., is developing the world's largest hydrogen-fueled public-transport operation, in Rotterdam. The largest hydrogen bus fleet in a single region should be operational before the end of the decade.

Connexxion, a Dutch public transport company, will operate more than 20 hydrogen/internal-combustion-engine buses under the proposal. The buses will be fueled from a combined gasoline-hydrogen service station, the first in the Netherlands. The station should be built and the buses operational by 2009.

The five-year project will evaluate public reaction as well as the reliability and economics of using hydrogen to fuel public transport in major urban areas. It will also help establish technical standards for operating hydrogen-fuel outlets. The Rotterdam project follows a successful three-year trial in Amsterdam, where Shell Hydrogen and its partners worked on infrastructure and operated three fuel-cell hydrogen buses. Rotterdam already has a well-developed hydrogen infrastructure for industrial applications.

The plan is intended as a platform for transition to hydrogen transport fuel. The gasoline-hydrogen retail station is intended to show Shell's commitment to providing sustainable energy. "We will showcase hydrogen as a reliable, safe and sustainable fuel which lowers air pollution and strengthens economic growth," explains Rein Willems, Country Chairman, Shell, in the Netherlands.