Spectacular news from the European Commission (EC): buses can now be powered by water! Really? Yes! Well, no, of course not. Unless you work the EC twitter account. It’s not clear whether this is an honest mistake, misinformation, disinformation, or just plain old propaganda, but it is rather silly. Especially since the tweet has a clip attached which explains that the bus is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. Hydrogen is not water, but hey.

The tweet calls it a “fact” that all public buses in “this Dutch city” are “powered by water.” The clip mentions Gelderland, which is a province and not actually a city in the Netherlands. Minor detail. Just like the fact that there is more than one bus in Gelderland, so, in fact, most buses are not “powered by water“. Because there is just the one bus powered by water hydrogen fuel cell. How could one know this? Well, it’s suggested in the clip. Also, there is a link in the tweet.

That link leads to a investEU story that explains some of the background for the hydrogen bus. Now, there is some confusion to where the bus actually drives. The body of the text says Arnhem (of Operation Market Garden fame), but the it says the bus is used in Apeldoorn. (Insert your own bridge too far pun here.)

The investEU page does mention that the bus was used as the venue of an interview by Dutch radio station BNR, which on its site clearly indicates that it is the only bus of its kind in the Netherlands. So when investEU writes that there is

Cleaner air in Gelderland thanks to greener buses.

and that

In the summer of 2016, the first bus went into regular service in Apeldoorn.

it is in fact talking about one (1) bus. When investEU claims

Gelderland company HyMove, public transport company Syntus and the province of Gelderland launched a hydrogen fuel cell project in 2015. With a €50,000 EU grant, they developed a fuel cell system for buses.

It is, in fact, not telling the whole truth. HyMove did not develop their fuel cell system with a €50.000 EU grant alone. It also got a €760.000 grant from Gelderland for the project, which was terminated in 2017 as planned. A follow-up, with four buses will not take place.

There are some further experiments with hydrogen fuel cell buses in the Netherlands, but not in Apeldoorn, nor in Arnhem, where the EU’s “fuel cell electric buses knowledge base” seems to think there are still in operation. Information on the experiments is hard to find, especially on said ‘knowledge base’ (?), where information is either obsolete, or hasn’t been added yet.

The EU: it might not cost you more than a cup of coffee each day, but it sure feels cheap.