Hydrogen Mobility Deutschland is responsible for establishing a nationwide hydrogen infrastructure to supply mainly cars as well as commercial vehicles with fuel-cell drives in Germany. It’s goal is to operate 100 hydrogen stations in seven German metropolitan areas and along the connecting arterial roads and motorways by the beginning of 2021.
This will be followed by another 300 as the vehicle numbers are ramped up. As partner within the project Hydrogen Mobility Europe, Nikolas Iwan, Managing Director of Hydrogen Mobility Deutschland, was asked about the current developments in the sector.
It has been a busy few years for H2Mobility Deutschland, where are you today?
When we took on the task of expanding the Germany-wide hydrogen infrastructure in 2015, there were 16 hydrogen filling stations in Germany. Today there are 84, and we have an operations team that maintains the stations and provides 24/7 support to our customers, increasing the availability to 93%. The milestone of 100 hydrogen stations, mainly for hydrogen passenger cars, will be reached early 2021 – a little later than expected due to the impact of the Coronavirus. Then the installed capacity will be sufficient to supply 40,000 H2 cars and, at six stations, some hydrogen buses.
What are the further expansion plans for the hydrogen filling station network for the coming year?
In the next phase, we will then build larger stations, depending on the demand, where we can also refuel buses and commercial vehicles. Demand is decisive for good utilisation of the stations because, in addition to the economic relevance, unused stations age faster. The commitment of companies and politics is crucial for further expansion. Increasing environmental awareness and pushing demand is needed as well as a clear regulatory framework and further funding, also to establish the right infrastructure in the heavy-duty vehicle sector in Europe. Only an overall European approach that transcends borders can lead to success. To achieve the greatest possible emission savings, we also need rules and incentives for green hydrogen. We are convinced that hydrogen as a fuel will thus make a significant contribution in the coming years to the shift towards clean mobility for cars and commercial vehicles.
What are the further expansion deployment plans for vehicles in the coming year?
As a prerequisite for the introduction of hydrogen vehicles, the vehicle manufacturers demanded a functioning, nationwide infrastructure. This is already a reality. Today it is possible to drive hydrogen-mobile with a fuel cell car in Germany without any problems. We now expect increased commitment from the vehicle industry. In addition, the support of the EU and the Federal Republic of Germany remains necessary in order to establish a suitable infrastructure for the commercial vehicle sector. Here, larger stations are needed that can handle 350 bar as well as 700 bar technology. Mergers like Daimler and Volvo in the truck sector, as recently announced, prove that hydrogen is the zero-emission solution for heavy vehicles in particular. The collaboration will also have positive effects for hydrogen in passenger cars because with the scaling up of fuel cell production, cost-optimised fuel cells will also be available for H2 passenger cars. This is essential because there is no alternative to hydrogen cars when it comes to high range requirements (more than 250 km) or driving profiles where charging times are economically disadvantageous (e.g. taxis, ride-sharing services). It now takes collaboration, support, funding, clear rules and regulations to increase the number of vehicles on the road – both for passenger cars as well as light and heavy-duty vehicles.