Hydrogen Mobility Europe has completed its first phase and compiled a rich dataset since initiating in 2016.
Hydrogen Mobility Europe has completed its first phase and compiled a rich dataset since initiating in 2016.
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H2ME Completion of the first phase of Hydrogen Mobility Europe

Editor: Nicole Kareta

As Europe prepares for ambitious revisions to its regulatory framework to support the Green Deal’s targets, key findings from the largest European hydrogen mobility initiative highlight the role hydrogen can play.

A flagship project for hydrogen mobility involving nearly 50 organizations at the forefront of the sector has today published its final report detailing the key findings and learnings. The findings are released at a crucial time as the European Green Deal seeks a 90 % reduction in transport related emissions by 2050.

Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME) has completed its first phase and compiled a rich dataset since initiating in 2016: 630 hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles have been deployed in 10 countries and 37 new hydrogen refuelling stations installed in 8 countries, achieving 14.5 million km driven and 147 t of hydrogen dispensed across 68,000 refuelling events. It is the largest European deployment for hydrogen mobility to date and demonstrates the commercial potential to rollout fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and hydrogen refuelling stations (HRS) for large and small fleets.

Following the conclusion of its initial phase, H2ME recommends national and international incentives that ensure the dispensed cost of low carbon hydrogen is competitive for vehicle operators to create a level playing field with other zero emission vehicles. National, regional, and local policies that ensure continued development of the industry are also recommended. The expansion of hydrogen infrastructure as a result of H2ME, co-funded by the FCH-JU, means more FCEVs now have access to refuelling stations however the limited infrastructure prevents full operational advantages of FCEVs being realised.

Incentives such as purchase grants and tax exemptions will unlock demand from vehicle operators and bring market confidence to vehicle suppliers. Similarly, financial support applied per unit (kg) of hydrogen sold, similar to the feed in tariffs which were applied to stimulate early renewable energy uptake, will lower the price of green hydrogen at the pump. This will enable high utilization of refuelling stations, which strengthens its business case, demonstrated by clusters of captive fleets with high mileage and heavy-duty cycles as they have significantly lower costs per kilogram of hydrogen.

The second phase of deployment will focus on developing state of the art refuelling stations, increased options for producing green hydrogen, and targeting a wider range of vehicles (from light duty to heavy duty vehicles). The lessons from phase one show that future hydrogen mobility strategies should focus more on high mileage and heavy-duty applications to provide the anchor demand for new installations. This will provide a stronger business case to the HRS operators.

Hydrogen could play a key role in enabling high mileage applications can transition to zero emission as these applications have specific operational needs such as long range and short refuelling time, that can be met by FCEVs. The overall cost of operating FCEVs in these fleets is expected to decrease rapidly in the coming years. For example, an analysis from the ZEFER project found that for high mileages applications such as taxis, and with hydrogen at EUR7,5/kg, FCEVs can reach parity on a total cost of ownership basis with petrol/diesel hybrids in the next 5 years.

In Denmark three Hyundai ix35 FCEVs are used by the Municipality of Copenhagen for a variety of duties as part of H2ME. They average 120 km travelled per day, with recorded distances up to 500 km in a single day, and have access to three refuelling stations within driving range. Well-to-wheel (WTW) emissions from FCEVs in Denmark are calculated at 20 gCO2e/km, compared to 34 gCO2e/km for a battery electric vehicle, 47 gCO2e/km for a battery electric SUV and 217 gCO2e/km for a diesel comparator. The use of 100 % green certified electrolytic hydrogen is key to the low emissions, however FCEVs still achieve significantly lower WTW emissions than diesel or gasoline vehicles even if using hydrogen derived from fossil fuels. Similar analysis conducted in Germany and France found that FCEVs achieve significant emission savings compared to diesel or gasoline vehicles, even if using fossil-derived hydrogen, and can be even more significantly when using low carbon or green hydrogen.

The fuel cell electric vehicles deployed have completed up to 600 km of driving range on a single tank, and prove reliable with over 99 % availability over their operational usage since 2016. The confirmation of technology readiness, emerging business cases and customer proposition in the project shows a path towards commercialisation.

With increasing needs for zero emissions mobility solutions to achieve environmental targets, and economics expecting to improve rapidly at scale, there is a strong case to support the commercial rollout for hydrogen mobility.

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