1 September 2017

France introduces its first hydrogen bus route

A consortium between ENGIE’s subsidiary GNVERT and Belgium-based bus manufacturer Van-Hool announced the deployment of the first hydrogen bus route in France in the Pau Pyrénées region.

The news for the “zero-emissions” route came from a public announcement made from the President of the community of Pau Béarn Pyrénées, François Bayrou.

The endeavour will comprise eight buses from the Bus Rapid Transit service line (BHNS) realising the route between the hospital and the railway station in Pau.

The announcement is part of the new transportation network designed by the city of Pau, within its urban development strategy that aims at improving and making more efficient use of public spaces in a sustainable way.

The buses will be fuelled by hydrogen from renewable sources as part of a contract between SMTU-PPP, Engie, Van Hool and ITM Power.

The hydrogen buses are electric buses whose energy is stored in the form of pressurized hydrogen.

Electricity is produced in real time on board the vehicle using innovative technology combining hydrogen and oxygen- a Fuel cell emitting only water vapour.

The 18- meter long BNHS will have a range of 350km and will need a recharging time of ten minutes.

The hydrogen initiative is said to constitute an effective alternative to the introduction of a rail mode transport, such as the tramway, as, among others, the buses will operate on a predominantly dedicated bus lane.

François Bayrou, President of the Pau Béarn Pyrénées Urban Community said: “The Pau Béarn Pyrénées conurbation has chosen hydrogen innovation for a “zero emission” solution and is transforming a daily mode of transport into an environmental and human project”.

The buses will be designed and manufactured by Van-Hool, one of the industry experts in hydrogen mobility, already operating more than fifty Fuel Cell Electric Vecicle (FCEV) hydrogen buses.

ENGIE, via its GNVERT subsidiary, will be responsible for the distribution of the alternative fuels and will construct and operate the hydrogen refuelling station for the buses.

The hydrogen will be produced on site in order to secure 100 percent decarbonised energy for propulsion.

Jan Van Hool, Director of Design & Development, and member of the Van Hool Board, commented: “This is a challenge for which we happily roll up our sleeves”.

He added: “The unique combination of a hydrogen-powered BHNS is undoubtedly a new turning point in the modern and environmentally friendly public transport of tomorrow”.

The hydrogen bus route is expected to be ready by 2019.

The Hydrogen Council, a global CEO-level initiative to voice a united vision and long-term ambition for hydrogen to foster the energy transition, is a gold sponsor of the Sustainable Investment Forum to be held in New York on 19 September. The Forum is the largest finance focused event happening during Climate Week NYC and is organised in official partnership with UNEP Finance Initiative. Places are going fast, so book your ticket now on

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