Transport & Logistics
A clean revolution is quietly taking place on Europe’s roads. Hydrogen fuel cells are powering fleets of public buses and refuelling stations are being deployed. Building on the results of several pilot projects, uptake of the technology is accelerating rapidly, putting hydrogen fuel cells in a position to underpin zero-emissions transport Europe-wide.
There has been an enormous leap forward recently in terms of the technology, cost and infrastructure, and it is a trend that will undoubtedly accelerate over the coming years.
Five years ago, there were about 30 buses in European cities running on hydrogen, today there are 90, and that number is set to at least double in the next year thanks to projects supported by the FCH JU. Likewise, the number of refuelling stations is set to rise, and is expected to increase from about 20 today to more than 50 in the next couple of years. Meanwhile, several car manufacturers have gone from testing hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) to producing them commercially.
The trend is being driven by growing demand among citizens and decision-makers for efficient, clean transport solutions that reduce urban air pollution, lower dependence on fossil fuels and minimise carbon dioxide emissions. And it is being powered by a technology that can provide improved performance and equivalent convenience, range and refuelling time to petrol and diesel-powered vehicles at a fraction of the environmental cost.
Stored in vehicles in a tank just like petrol or diesel, hydrogen is used in an electrochemical energy conversion process with oxygen in fuel cells to generate electricity to drive the power train. A similar electrochemical process is used to produce electricity from batteries. But while a battery will lose its charge over time, a fuel cell will continue to work so long as it has hydrogen and oxygen flowing into it. Water is the only emission.
The global shift towards fuel cell electric vehicles is inexorable. Europe is at the forefront of the transition to green transport and we in APAC are following.