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Public Transportation And Energy Efficiency: Montpellier’s Sustainable Mobility Initiatives – Exclusive | ‘Cheaper and greener’: German city set to order 100 hydrogen buses on basis of study to remain secret
Duisburg refuses to allow scrutiny of reports that found H2 buses would be a cheaper option than battery-electric ones
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Earlier this year, the French city of Montpellier canceled an order for 51 hydrogen-powered buses after newly elected officials found that electric buses would be six times cheaper to run.
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And last year, the Financial Times reported that the 100 fuel-cell buses operating in Tokyo ahead of the city’s delayed 2020 Olympic games have proven to be very expensive, with bus leases costing $150,000 a year and fuel costs 2.6 times higher. Like diesel.
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Now local politicians in the western German city of Duisburg are set to rubber-stamp one of Europe’s largest ever orders of hydrogen buses – 100 units to replace its entire diesel-powered fleet – following a study commissioned and financed by the city’s public Owned bus company found that H
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“One hundred new hydrogen-powered buses: this is trend-setting because we are not only protecting the climate, but also making life cleaner and quieter for everyone in our city. With the help of fuel cell technology, we can set the course for a Green future in Duisburg,” the Social Democrat mayor Sören Link said earlier this month.
A press release from the city added: “The basis of this decision is a study in which the advantages and disadvantages of battery and fuel cell buses were compared from various aspects. The result showed that the fuel cell technology not only shows a cost advantage in operation, but also achieves a lower CO
The state-owned public transport company, Duisburger Verkehrsgesellschaft (DVG), added that the study found that “the use of fuel cell buses offers technological, economic and ecological advantages compared to other types of vehicles”.
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However, the city and DVG refuse to publish the study, or indeed, any of the information it contains.
DVG told Hydrogen Insight that it “cannot agree to the publication or forwarding of the study, even in part”.
This is due to potentially confidential transport company data, it says, adding that the findings cannot be transferred to other cities or transport companies due to “the specific situation in Duisburg”.
However, late on Thursday, hours after the article was first published, a spokesperson for the Cologne-based engineering consultancy Emcel, which produced the report for DVG, told Hydrogen Insight: “The main reason why hydrogen buses are cheaper for the city of Duisburg. is that the use of battery-electric buses increases additional costs, which include the use of more buses, more personnel and additional costs for a higher connection capacity in the depot for the charging infrastructure, compared to diesel and also compared to hydrogen buses.
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This is a very different conclusion from a 2018 study into hydrogen and battery buses commissioned by DVG, seen by Hydrogen Insight, found that “fuel cell buses lead to the highest costs”.
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“The main reasons for this are the high costs for hydrogen production as well as the high acquisition costs and the limited service life of the fuel cells,” it said.
“The operational advantages … are not sufficient for any of the regular routes to justify operation with fuel cell buses from an economic point of view.”
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The 100-bos order is expected to be approved by the city council on Monday, without any public scrutiny, with the vehicles planned to run by 2030.
Duisburg is officially branded as “the hydrogen city” and “the gravitational field for the hydrogen economy”, with its steel factories – which are single-handedly responsible for 5% of Germany’s CO2 emissions – large inland port and corresponding logistics.
Just a month ago, the German state of Baden-Württemberg revealed that a study it commissioned into decarbonizing the state-owned railway company’s trains found that hydrogen locomotives would be 80% more expensive than electric options. While the study was not published in full, a detailed 25-page summary and maps of the report were released to the public, and the state made it clear that its conclusions only applied to Baden-Württemberg.
Internationally, the research on hydrogen transfer has been inconclusive. The IPCC 2022 report of the UN Said buses are among heavy-duty transport segments that could benefit from fuel cell technology.
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However, a recent study published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, which looked at overall energy-system costs, found that H2 should not be considered a large-scale solution for transport. The study modeled green hydrogen usage on an hour-to-hour basis and said that both high infrastructure costs and low energy efficiency made H
An expensive solution, but that e-fuels derived from hydrogen would be less expensive on an energy-system basis due to its ability to use existing infrastructure.
The German city of Cologne (Cologne), 72 km south of Duisburg, recently placed an order for 40 hydrogen buses, with options to buy 60 more, adding to its current fleet of about 50
But in the city of Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt, local municipal bus operator ESWE Verkehr has been told to consider selling its ten fuel-cell buses, which have been operating since last December.
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According to analyst Rethink Energy, there were more than 5,000 fuel cell buses in operation around the world at the start of this year, with about 3,300 of those in China, roughly 1,300 in Europe, and less than 100 in North America.
China is also leading the world in battery electric buses, with 378, 700 in operation at the end of 2020, according to a government agency study.
This article has been updated to include information from the 2018 DVG study and a quote from the report’s author.
A two-year-old project to run 51 hydrogen buses in the French city of Montpellier and its surroundings was canceled for being too expensive after elected officials realized that electric buses would be six times cheaper to run.
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The €29m ($33m) Montpellier Horizon Hydrogen project – which includes the construction of a small solar-powered green-hydrogen plant – was announced by EDF subsidiary Hynamics in December 2019.
Since then, it has been awarded €18m of funding, including €6.9m of grants from regional, national and European funds – with the latest from the EU. Loans from the French sovereign fund Caisse des Dépôts.
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But Michael Delafosse, the mayor of the Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole (an administrative area centered in the city of Montpellier), who was elected in June 2020, last week decided to cancel the project on the grounds of costs.
“Hydrogen technology is promising,” he told a conference on January 4. “But we are helped on the investment, not on the operation. However, it would be six times more expensive than with electric buses. So, for the moment, we give up on hydrogen buses; we will see in 2030 if hydrogen is cheaper .”
Julie Frêche, vice-president of the Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole, which is in charge of transport, told the French business newspaper La Tribune that the operation of the hydrogen buses would cost €3 million a year, compared to €500,000 with Electric ones. – or €0.95 per km versus €0.15.
Hinamix — which was co-developing the project with the Metropole — declined to comment, saying it was in ongoing talks with Montpelier officials.
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Green hydrogen is an inherently inefficient and expensive solution for road transport because it requires renewable electricity for electrolysis to create the H
, more power to compress the gas, which needs to be stored in large tanks, an expensive filling station is needed to pump the stored hydrogen into a vehicle, where a fuel cell converts the H.
Hydrogen advocates argue that fuel cell electric vehicles are less heavy than battery-powered ones, can be charged more quickly and can run for more kilometers on a single charge. Dear Readers, We are making this and other articles available for free online to serve those unable to afford or access the print edition of
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