Letters to the Editor

Stop the hydrogen buses — they are ‘simply bad news’

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To the editor:

Although Metro’s purchase of 57 hydrogen buses is labeled zero-emission, it’s not. Currently, 70% of hydrogen comes from petroleum refinement byproduct — not from water, as Mike Rotkin erroneously stated. Only a small amount comes from the electrolysis method he mentioned in his Lookout opinion piece. Therefore, it’s a huge money-maker for the oil industry. Hydrogen costs three times that of diesel, with half the net-power efficiency, and therefore half the efficiency of battery electric.

This is the razor-and-blades business model. A relative comparison is that of inkjet printers. The printers themselves are cheap, but the ink costs more than French perfume. Although the buses will come from a grant, the operational costs will be paid in full from Metro’s local budget. Metro will drive up demand for hydrogen and the cost will spike.

CEO Michael Tree notes that Metro is aiming to get hydrogen for the equivalent of $2 a gallon (a 94% discount), which is unlikely, and other “clean hydrogen” approaches (think “clean coal”) will drive the current price even higher. Hydrogen is simply bad news. Other municipalities that ran the numbers have actually canceled their hydrogen fuel cell bus purchases once they ran the numbers.

Jack Brown