Franck Bruel

Article published published on LinkedIn, on October 5, 2018 (only in french)

We are all aware of the problems that can arise from our daily journeys, especially in the city. We can even feel them physically on days of peak pollution. Beyond restrictions and sanctions, we need to develop solutions for mobility, reconciling environmental protection with population growth. I firmly believe that renewable hydrogen – or green hydrogen – is one of these solutions.

Produced by the electrolysis of water using renewable energies (solar, wind, hydraulic) or biomethane, green hydrogen has many qualities: it does not emit either particulates or greenhouse gases; it is an infinite and clean resource; in short, it is a guarantee of responsible growth.

It can be produced in a decentralized way, as close as possible to the place of consumption: only a renewable energy source and a water source are needed.

In mobility, hydrogen-powered engines offer both individual and collective benefits: refueling is much quicker than the time it takes to charge an electric vehicle (less than 5 minutes); the range on a standard crossover is now more than 650 km, encouraging both short- and long-distance travel; and energy efficiency is much better than that of combustion engines.

All these benefits persuaded us to incorporate the development of hydrogen solutions for mobility into ENGIE’s strategy.

Several applications are already possible, including transportation for individuals and for logistics in urban zones, fleets of buses and rail travel. Others are under study, including river transport and cruise ships.

In the city of Pau, in southwestern France, eight hydrogen-powered buses will operate in the city centre in less than a year. With a range of 350 kilometers, they will be powered by the world's first hydrogen refueling station for buses, from renewable and local energy sources. ENGIE is working on this pioneering project alongside the city’s urban transport authority, the bus constructor Van Hool and the integrated solutions manufacturer ITM Power.

Meanwhile, we recently installed the first alternative multi-fuel filling station in France at Rungis, near Paris, in the world’s largest market for fresh produce. The station will be used to refuel the country’s largest fleet of hydrogen-powered utility vehicles, 50 Renault Kangoo Z.E.s used by ENGIE Cofely technicians to provide multi-technical operations and maintenance work for commercial buildings in the Paris region.

Green hydrogen as a clean energy for mobility is no longer the stuff of science fiction or restricted to prototypes. Having said that, the entire sector – energy producers, car manufacturers, public bodies, etc. – must continue to mobilize to ensure that it becomes one of the key alternative fuels, contributing to a decarbonized and harmonious world while meeting the growing demands of mobility.