On the shores of Lake Geneva in Lausanne, the new IOC hydrogen vehicles are practically silent, but with their refueling station, they are creating a real buzz in the Olympic capital.
Also known as fuel cell electric vehicles, the eight ‘Mirais’ arrived at the Olympic House – the IOC headquarters – last June, supplied by the world Olympic partner Toyota. Located nearby, the region’s first hydrogen production and supply station, powered by renewable energy, has been supplying hydrogen to the IOC’s vehicle fleet since December 2019.
As Marie Sallois, director of organizational development and sustainable development at the IOC said: the sustainability debate and strengthening the role of the Olympic Movement to bring about positive change. ”
José Diamantino, in charge of the IOC vehicle fleet for more than 20 years, has seen for himself that the passage of the hydrogen vehicle fleet has brought much more than a new mode of transport.
“When I drive in the area, I am stopped and asked questions almost every day about the station, our vehicles, and the technology behind it.”
And to add: “What really matters is that people of all ages are interested and want to know more about the philosophy behind these choices: we are talking about energy efficiency and the next moment, we are talking about the future of the planet. ”
Clean, inexpensive and easy to store, hydrogen accounts for around 2% of global energy consumption. However, this figure is expected to increase as the world mobilizes to fight climate change by replacing fossil fuels with cleaner sources of energy. The CIO hydrogen is produced from renewable electricity, mainly by hydroelectricity.
The transition to hydrogen is an integral part of the IOC’s commitment to sustainability, one of the three pillars of the Olympic Agenda 2020, the organization’s strategic roadmap.
The Lausanne vehicle fleet is smaller than that planned for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where the official fleet will consist of hydrogen and hybrid vehicles, also supplied by the world Olympic partner Toyota. It is, however, an important commitment and a source of inspiration for businesses and organizations in the region.
Hubert Girault, professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the university that advised the IOC on hydrogen-related issues, said that the decision to switch the fleet of vehicles from the IOC to the hydrogen is an important step to raise awareness of renewable energy and sustainability.
As he commented: “The installation of a hydrogen refueling station for a private fleet was certainly a pioneering initiative and a formidable position. The IOC has had a huge impact, and now the major companies in the region are also considering switching to hydrogen. ”
A higher capacity hydrogen refueling point is expected to open later this year at a public service station near the Olympic House, which will allow the IOC to supply more vehicles. The IOC refueling station will then be sold to EPFL in order to advance the university’s research projects on hydrogen and to create additional interest in hydrogen energy at the local level.
This interest was also noted at a conference organized earlier this month by Innovaud, a local association promoting technology and innovation in the canton of Vaud. The event, which was held at the Olympic House, brought together Swiss companies, academics, and authorities and aimed to inform about the latest trends and capacities in the region related to production, storage and the distribution of hydrogen, as well as the IOC’s experience with mobility thanks to hydrogen.
Conference organizer Jean-Michel Stauffer said: “As a pioneer in the adoption of hydrogen, the IOC can have a huge impact on what is being done in the region, and hence, in the whole world.”