Hydrogen tech coming to the boil

Industry leaders are confirming their commitment to expanding the deployment of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure across Europe.

Vehicle manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai, Symbio and Toyota as well as leading hydrogen refuelling infrastructure providers, are gathering at the Hydrogen for Clean Transport conference to discuss and debate hydrogen-based solutions towards a zero emission transport sector in Europe by 2040. The event aims to raise awareness among policy makers and other stakeholders of the role to be played by hydrogen mobility alongside full battery electric vehicles in achieving our zero emission future.

The conference, sponsored by the Fuel Cells & Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) and flagship hydrogen projects HyFIVE and H2ME, is a first for Europe’s transport industry. As more European countries move toward partial or complete bans on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies are seen as an increasingly important component of the future mix of vehicles on Europe’s roads. The companies present at the event support development of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles as a viable alternative to diesel and a complement to full battery electric powertrains.

The message delivered is that hydrogen fuel cells plus electric-vehicle technology offer a viable path to zero emission transport and, as part of the wider energy system, support grid operations and integration of renewable energies. Highlighting the variety of FCEVs available now and in the near future, these companies are making the case that while hydrogen fuel cell technology is not yet available across a large range of vehicle offerings, the technology addresses some of battery electric vehicles’ main limitations.  These include drain on the energy grid, limited range, long charging time, and issues with recycling of batteries.

The conference also highlights the progress of major FCEV deployment efforts and a Europe-wide collaboration to put more hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on European roads.
The unique framework of the FCH JU has allowed the collaboration of all major vehicle OEMs under the HyFIVE and H2ME projects, alongside refuelling solution providers, research institutes and public authorities. HyFIVE successfully developed a hydrogen network within three clusters: London, Copenhagen and a southern area comprising Innsbruck, Munich, Stuttgart and Bolzano.

H2ME expanded this collaboration to 12 European countries (the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Belgium, Austria, Italy, and Luxembourg) to give FCEV drivers access to the first truly pan-European network of hydrogen refuelling stations.

Bart Biebuyck, executive director of the European Commission’s FCH JU, said, ‘This marks an important step for clean mobility in Europe. The presence of seven important manufacturers translates to a strong commitment from industry, which is a crucial element to push forward with the deployment of hydrogen vehicles. The FCH JU is proud to see how its projects, HyFIVE and then H2ME, have been allowed to build continuously on previous achievements and are bringing technological progress to become key solutions for addressing zero emission transport goals. In this way, we contribute to tackling major global challenges.’

Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, secretary general at Hydrogen Europe, said, ‘The Hydrogen for Clean Transport conference is timely, with the release of crucial sets of legislation for the mobility sector this autumn. With this conference, our industry members showcase the readiness level of fuel cell electric vehicles as a complementary solution to battery electric vehicles, the only two zero emission drivetrains that enable transport decarbonisation.’