Van Hool consortium to deploy first hydrogen bus route in France; green hydrogen for bus rapid transit
A consortium comprising bus-maker Van Hool, ITM Power, SMTU-PPP and Engie will deploy the first hydrogen bus route in France, in Pau. François Bayrou, President of the community of Pau Béarn Pyrénées, made the announcement about the creation of this “zero emission” bus rapid transit (BRT) route, which will be operated by the Pau transport operator companies SMTU-PPP and STAP starting in September 2019 between the hospital and the railway station in Pau.
Fueled by hydrogen from renewable sources (“green hydrogen”), eight 18-meter articulated buses from the Bus Rapid Transit service line (BHNS) will be operating on the streets of Pau within two years. The buses will form an artery of the new transportation network designed by the City within its urban redevelopment project aimed at improving the perception and use of public spaces in a sustainable way.
The hydrogen hybrid buses feature a passenger capacity of 125; long driving range (350 km / 217 miles); and rapid refueling (10 minutes). These attributes provide them, amid the various zero-emission bus technology options, with the highest level of operational flexibility and productivity for a bus operator.
The BHNS buses also offer a high-end experience for the traveler (comfort, safety, availability, information); high frequency with short waiting time; and a predominantly dedicated bus lane. The BHNS is an effective alternative to the introduction of a rail mode transport, such as the tramway.
The bus will be designed and manufactured by Van Hool, the European manufacturer with the most expertise in hydrogen mobility with more than 50 fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) hydrogen buses already in operation. Van Hool is developing, from its electric platform, an articulated 18-meter fuel cell bus model for the needs of this BRT(BHNS) line.
Engie, via its GNVERT subsidiary, responsible for the distribution of alternative fuels, will take charge of the construction and operation of the hydrogen refueling station for these buses. The hydrogen will be produced on site by an ITM Power PEM electrolyzer powered by local renewable electricity, thus providing completely decarbonized energy for propulsion.
Van Hool is pleased to be able to apply its vast experience in the field of hydrogen-powered vehicles to the new BHNS bus system in Pau. This is a challenge for which we happily roll up our sleeves. On the one hand, Van Hool has sold about 50 Fuel Cell hydrogen vehicles (32 in Europe and 21 in North America) and on the other hand we have introduced just over 200 BHNS buses in 13 European countries and in Martinique. The unique combination of a hydrogen-powered BHNS is undoubtedly a new turning point in the modern and environmentally friendly public transport of tomorrow.—Jan Van Hool, Director of Design & Development, and member of the Van Hool Board