French Transit System Puts Fuel-Cell Buses into Service


Ballard Power Systems says eight ExquiCity tram-buses built by Van Hool NV and powered by Ballard FCveloCity-HD 100-kW fuel cell modules have been placed into revenue service in Pau, France’s Bus Rapid Transit System.

Ballard initially announced a letter of intent in September 2017 and shipped modules to Van Hool in 2018. These first-ever fuel-cell-powered tram-buses were subsequently delivered to Pau in 2019 and are being operated by the SMTU-PPP (Syndicat Mixte de Transports urbains – Pau Portes des Pyrénées) and the STAP (Société de Transport de l’Agglomération Paloise).

The clean energy hybrid tram-buses use fuel cells for primary power and lithium batteries for additional power when needed, with the only emission being water vapor. Each tram-bus is over 60 feet long, has capacity for 125 passengers and can operate more than 185 miles between hydrogen refuelings.  

The tram-bus deployment in Pau is partially funded by Europe’s FCH-JU program. GNVERT, a subsidiary of ENGIE, constructed and operates the hydrogen refueling station for the tram-buses.

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