The French city of Montpellier has cancelled a plan to buy more than 50 hydrogen buses after it was calculated that operating the same number of electric buses would cost just a sixth of the hydrogen project, saving it €2.5 million (over £2 million)
The original plan, first set out in 2019, included buying 51 hydrogen-powered buses and installing an 800 kg/day hydrogen production station built by local solar energy equipment supplier Energies du Sud and Hynamics, a subsidiary of the energy giant EDF group.
Dubbed “Montpellier Horizon Hydrogène” would have seen 20 hydrogen buses deployed starting in 2023 on the new high-level service lines (BHNS) in the Métropole with another 31 vehicles from 2025.
But the project – which would have been one of the largest of its kind in France – has now been scrapped by city president Michaël Delafosse, who stated that it would cost six times more than if operated with electric buses.
The plan now is to give up on hydrogen buses and re-look at hydrogen in 2030 to see if hydrogen is cheaper,” he said.
The cost of the hydrogen bus project had been estimated at €29 million, a cost that had been substantially reduced with various grants and subsidies.
But the operating costs would still be inordinately higher than simply operating electric buses, an official has said.
In a statement by Julie Frêche, VP of the city in charge of transport and active mobility said that, “The operation of all hydrogen bustram would be 3 million euros per year against 500,000 euros with electric buses. Or 0.15 euros per km in electric against 0.95 euros on hydrogen.
It was pointed out that the difference in cost for the vehicles was also substantial. The price difference between an electric bus and a hydrogen bus is between 150,000 and 200,000 Euros.
Also, the city would not have been able to produce enough green hydrogen, so would have then been forced it to then buy it.
The plan to build a hydrogen production facility however is still under discussion as the city wants to find a solution that would not prevent future projects going ahead.
Although they are abandoning the hydrogen powered buses, the planned hydrogen production station stlll remains a subject of discussion, as €18 million in subsidies have already been promised.