Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles and Hydrogen Refuelling – The End of the ‘Chicken and Egg’ Quandary

This week, the German H2 Mobility initiative, of which Intelligent Energy is proud to been an active participant for many years, set upon a 10 year action plan for the construction of a nationwide network of 400 hydrogen refuelling stations for fuel cell powered electric vehicles (FCEVs) across Germany.

The growing need for sustainable, efficient and lower carbon transport solutions means that any commercial roll out of alternative technologies must be closely supported by a practical and viable fuelling infrastructure. The automotive fuel cell technology is ready, as evidenced in the now public plans of the major automotive manufacturers to make their FCEVS widely available to the motoring consumer from 2015.  

As a first step, 100 hydrogen stations will be deployed across Germany over the next 4 years, which will ensure there is a refuelling infrastructure available for when the vehicles come to market.

The objective is to offer a hydrogen fillingstation at least every 90 kilometres of motorway between densely populated areas, which would also create a suitable supply of hydrogen for rural areas. In metropolitan areas, this will amount to at least 10 hydrogen refuelling stations for drivers of FCEVs by 2023. The initiative expects that a total investment of around €350 million will be required to complete this infrastructure project.

In addition to plans for a nationwide filling station network, the agreement includes the principles for the procurement and distribution of the necessary hydrogen and a request for support to the German Federal Government.

ImageHydrogen is a clean energy carrier. When used as fuel in fuel cell systems, it does not produce any carbon emissions (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, unburned hydrocarbons or particulates). Therefore, using hydrogen will contribute to the decarbonising of road transport and improvement of air quality.

Germany has led the development of hydrogen refuelling networks in Europe, having launched its H2 Mobility initiative in 2009. It currently has 15 hydrogen stations and opened Europe’s largest hydrogen refuelling station in early 2012, capable of delivering 750 kg of hydrogen per day, with half of the station’s hydrogen produced on-site via water electrolysis

Similar projects have been launched in the UK and France, amongst others, with a view to the establishment of nationwide networks of hydrogen refuelling stations and helping to make this zero emission, yet practical means of electric motoring a commercial reality and success.

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