For the first time in France, hydrogen conquers public transport. Fuelled by hydrogen from renewable sources, eight buses from the Bus Rapid Transit service line (BHNS) will be operating on the streets of Pau within two years, as part of a contract between SMTU-PPP, Engie, Van Hool and ITM Power.

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.

Seiya Consulting assisted the conurbation of Pau and its public transportation syndicate in the procurement process to select the best solution. Additionally, Seiya Consulting produced the communication material for the announcement, writing an in-depth presentation of the project, including a comprehensive explanation of the hydrogen energy benefits and technologies. Seiya also produced several educational leaflets targeted to the public, citizens, city staff and future users of the bus line.

Hydrogen buses have solid advantages: long driving range (350 km) and rapid recharging (10 minutes). These provide them, amid the various zero-emission bus technology options, with the highest level of operational flexibility and productivity for a bus operator.

The other characteristics of the BHNS buses principally comprise 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. As a leader and innovator, 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 refuelling station for these buses. The hydrogen will be produced on site by an ITM Power PEM electrolyser powered by local renewable electricity, thus ensuring completely decarbonised energy for propulsion.

The future H2 bus station of Pau Public Transportation Syndicate

With this flagship project, the Engie Group is positioning itself as a key player in the energy revolution: promoting green growth through actions such as increasing the share of renewable energies in the French energy mix, the improvement of air quality and the optimisation of transport networks. The choice of this zero emission solution : zero Co2 and zero local pollutants (fine particles, nitrogen oxides, etc.), demonstrates the potential of making the environmental choices required during the energy transition while offering the best service to Pau public transport users.

This bus project is part of a policy for sustainable mobility, preservation of the environment and the living environment of Pau’s inhabitants. The BHNS is the core of a new mobility but also a vector for an enhanced and sustainable quality of life, increasing economic and residential attractiveness.

Pau Syndicat Mixte de Transports Urbains will invest €13.5M , with €7M  regional and European funds, notably within the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking framework (FCH-JU).