The Anonymous Widower

French City Cancels Purchase Of 51 Hydrogen Buses After Realising Electric Ones Would Be Six Times Cheaper To Run

The title of this post, is the same as that as this article on Recharge Magazine.

The city is Montpelier and it’s their decision, but I do find it strange, that the French city of Pau have chosen the hydrogen version of the the Van Hool ExquiCity bus.

But Pau have chosen a British hydrogen system from ITM Power, rather than a French one.

January 13, 2022 - Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , ,


  1. I would expect to see more of this over the coming years, as more experience on running the things is gathered, and accountants work out what the costs are. I’m not surprised that hydrogen vehicles are more expensive to buy and run than battery ones. I am surprised though that they found hydrogen 6x more expensive to run – that is a lot, and the difference will only widen as battery tech improves.

    In Germany, I see the Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn (area to the N and E of Berlin) recently ordered a fleet of Mireo Plus Bs. They were originally interested in the iLint, especially as there already is an electrolyser that could be used (a plant originally intended for hydrogen cars). I suspect cost will have played a big part in that decision. Siemens have bumped up the range for the battery trains a bit, from 80km a couple of years ago to >90km now. They market the Mireo H too, but I don’t think there have been any orders as yet.

    Comment by Peter Robins | January 13, 2022 | Reply

    • There is an order for a 2-car Mireo Plus H passenger train for trial operation in Bavaria, Germany. Nothing else though.

      Comment by fammorris | January 13, 2022 | Reply

    • According to this website
      Deutsche Bahn will also have a test train running between Tubingen and Pforzheim in Baden Wurttemberg in 2024. There’s a little video which looks more like tourism promotion

      Comment by fammorris | January 13, 2022 | Reply

      • I do wonder, if the hydrogen trains on the Cuxhaven Line have attracted visitors. Cuxhaven is a town, that is a bit like a German King’s Lynn, so I suspect visitors are welcomed. When I rode the train, there were quite a few German enthusiasts about. But then the National Railway Museum at York told me, that they get loads of German visitors.

        Comment by AnonW | January 13, 2022

      • I’m sure that in the days of the Hanseatic League there would have been a lot of trade between King’s Lynn and Cuxhaven.

        Comment by fammorris | January 13, 2022

  2. The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) produced two reports dealing with fuel cell electric buses dealing with the potential for sustainable public transport in Europe and the strategies for joint procurement. This makes reference to Montpellier and a number of other French transport operators (Auxerre, Rouen, Toulouse, Lyon, Clement Ferrand, Orleans, Paris) and of course Pau. These companies relied on one of three funding sources, local, national and EU, most of which came from the Joint Initiative for Hydrogen Vehicles across Europe (JIVE 2).
    Pau unlike some of the other companies were able to select the van Hool option purely on technical grounds as unlike Montpellier who selected a small bus manufacturer near Toulouse, Pau received additional funding from Europe and from the region of Nouvelle-Acquitaine. Looking at the current situation the only cities, apart from Pau, that have invested to any degree in more than test Fuel Cell Buses are Auxerre and Rouen.

    When you read the reports, both of which go back 4 years it was already apparent that the Capex and Opex for HFCVs wasn’t attractive. It looks as though Montpellier have reviewed the situation particularly after changes in their team which have made the HFCV even less appealing.

    For background FCU JU is a public private partnership supporting research, technological development and demonstration (RTD) activities in fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. FCU consists of the European Commission, fuel cell and hydrogen industries represented by Hydrogen Europe and the research community represented by Hydrogen Europe Research.

    What I hadn’t anticipating was to find out that recent London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Aberdeen purchases of HFCVs are still benefitting from some EU support as they are still involved in the JIVE 2 programme, as are Brighton and Dundee who are also planning applications for funding.

    Comment by fammorris | January 13, 2022 | Reply

    • From my visit to Birmingham, I feel they have got it right. As a large city they are much bigger than Montpelier’s just under 300,000 and hydrogen seems to pay off, when bus routes are long. Birmingham are also going to use the electrolyser for anybody who wants hydrogen.

      This more universal use probably improves the economics.

      Perhaps too, the British electrolyser in Pau didn’t go down well with the frogs!

      Comment by AnonW | January 13, 2022 | Reply

      • Recharge magazine is screwing up your brain.
        The photo in their article is the van Hool for Pau. As far as I can make out Montpellier were intending to buy buses from Safra, based near Toulouse. Those buses would have looked like the hydrogen buses that Auxerre purchased.
        As for the the electrolyser, that was to be supplied by Hynamics an EDF subsidiary using solar power involving a company called Energie de Sud.
        On that basis ITM and their electrolyser at Pau have nothing to fear.
        To be fair I saw the same photo in the Recharge article used to promote a Indian built Daimler Benz hydrogen.
        Ridiculous when you think of the state of many Indian roads.

        Comment by fammorris | January 13, 2022

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