Monday 7 April 2014

Hydrogen vehicles receive a boost

A pioneering £31 million deal could make hydrogen vehicles a “viable and environmentally friendly choice” for motorists across Europe.

Leading motor manufacturers, hydrogen fuel suppliers, the Mayor of London’s Office in the UK as well as energy consultancies from around the world have signed up to the HyFIVE project, the largest of its kind in Europe.

Five different manufacturers have agreed to deploy a total of 110 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles at several European locations (Bolzano, Copenhagen, Innsbruck, London, Munich, Stuttgart) and develop new clusters of hydrogen refuelling stations.

Locations are being sought for three new hydrogen refuelling stations in London, one in Aarhus and in Odense (Denmark) and one in Innsbruck (Austria).

They are expected to be operational by 2015, by which time some of the manufacturers in the partnership will have put hydrogen fuelled cars on sale in some European markets.

It is claimed that using hydrogen gas as a source of fuel to generate electric power the new vehicles produces only water vapour. Also it is claimed vehicles have the potential to be more than twice as fuel-efficient as conventionally powered vehicles and operate very quietly.

The Mayor of London’s Office is coordinating the multi million pound project. Among those who signed up are: BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota as well as hydrogen fuel companies including Air Products, Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, ITM Power, Linde and OMV. Other signatories include Element Energy, PE International, the Institute for Innovative Technology and the European Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking FCHJU).

Vehicle manufacturers taking part of the project are working to develop and demonstrate hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars. The prospect of these becoming more widely available is now seen as increasingly likely as the currently high cost of the technology falls and hydrogen powered vehicles become affordable, it is claimed. 

Supporters of the new technology claim “rapid re-fuelling times” for hydrogen cars as well as their “potential to cover at least 400 miles before being re-fuelled”.

Supporters also believe fuel cells will have the ability to be scaled up to run larger vehicles such as buses or trucks.

Hydrogen infrastructures will be built across several countries as part of this European project. Filling stations will be built and operated in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria and Italy, as well as in London.

An advantage claimed by supporters of the new technology is that these stations will share internationally-agreed fuel and re-fuelling standards.

All of the partners in the project see the initial investment to build small clusters of stations as key to gaining the research knowledge that will demonstrate the viability of hydrogen fuelled vehicles.

Bert De Colvenaer, executive director of the FCHJU, said: “With a total of 110 FCEVs and 6 new refuelling stations, HyFIVE will represent the largest single project of its kind financed by the FCHJU. The high level of technology readiness of this zero emission transport technology will be showcased in five European member states, thus ensuring a broad geographical outreach. In addition, the project will also contribute to the build-up of the first networks at local levels necessary to support the market introduction of the vehicles in the coming years. With the participation of leading automakers and infrastructure providers, HyFIVE illustrates the commitment from leading industrial players in the EU and the spirit of cooperation that I am convinced will enable the success of these technologies.“

Professor Roger Putman CBE, non-executive chairman of clean hydrogen fuel supplier ITM Power Plc, said "ITM Power is delighted to be part of this exciting pan-European project, delivering three new green hydrogen refuelling stations which will be deployed in London.”

“These three new stations will form part of three European regions that will deploy six new 700bar hydrogen refuelling stations. They will also incorporate 12 existing stations in the project,” he added. “The fuelling station networks will offer hydrogen as a genuine fuelling choice for end users. Working with other partners in the project, Air Products, Linde, OMV and the Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, will stimulate the network density required for full commercial roll-out of hydrogen refuelling and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)."                                                                  ∎

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