For EVs, the cost advantages, technology maturity and the increasingly acceptable range of batteries seem to have made them a net zero winner, for now. The application of hydrogen in various sectors, particularly for hydrogen taxi fleets and heavy-duty transport, has also been making progress.
Hydrogen For Taxi Fleets
So why is it significant that Anglo American announced that H2 Moves Berlin, the fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) fleet jointly initiated with Toyota Germany and taxi operator SafeDriver Group-ENNOO, has now driven more than 1 million zero emission km, and has provided over 100 000 customer journeys?
Well, I recently had to make journey of more than 150km to and from an airport. On the trip, I mentioned to the taxi driver that at NovAzure, I support the commercialisation of innovative IP in the areas of energy and mobility. The driver explained that he had just bought a mild petrol hybrid Skoda because he couldn’t get the range he needed from an EV. Mainly doing airport runs, he regularly does over 500km in a day, often starting or ending in rural areas.
He told me that, even if he could access fast chargers when he needed one, the charging times over his daily driving cycle for the current ranges of most battery EVs would be unworkable for him. By contrast, H2Moves Berlin uses a platinum catalyst fuel cell to power the motor of an FCEV, which can be refuelled in five minutes with ranges up to 650 km and is similar to using a petrol or diesel vehicle, but with zero emissions. So, hydrogen can play a part for some taxi fleet applications.
Hydrogen For Heavy Duty Fleets
For Heavy Duty Transport travelling long distances, the weight of a battery is key. Currently, 1 kWh weighs in at 12.5kg when stored in batteries. This may reduce to 3.6kg per kWh, but the same power weighs only 1.7kg per kWh when stored as hydrogen. For equal weight, hydrogen storage now contains 7 times more power than batteries and perhaps double that of batteries in the future.
So, for long-distance HGVs, getting the Total Cost of Ownership of fuel cells down to parity with diesel should unlock considerable potential for hydrogen.
This area is something of an Achilles heel for now. Siting hydrogen refuelling at truck stops and fleet depots is going to be required. Germany has only 89 hydrogen service stations open at present, with plans to grow to 100. The scarcity of hydrogen refuelling stations is still a major barrier to be overcome. Nevertheless, it seems clear that hydrogen FCEVs are going to be a part of the overall solution to delivering net-zero mobility and logistics.
Talk About Hydrogen With Us
At NovAzure, we help clients looking to commercialise decarbonisation practices for the journey to net-zero. You get in touch with our hydrogen lead partner, Phil Cholerton, at firstname.lastname@example.org.