Wider usage of hydrogen-powered trucks will lead to a drop in overall transport emissions as refuelling networks expand. That’s according to the CEO of H2 Energy Group, Dr Phillip Dietrich, who believes that as operators embrace the alternative fuel and invest in its infrastructure, hydrogen passenger car uptake will increase accordingly.
Swiss-based H2 Energy plans to establish a nationwide network of hydrogen filling stations, as well as developing the production plants in which electrolysis splits water (H20) to create oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2) molecules. The company is already supporting several operators with hydrogen vehicles and at last year’s IAA in Hannover signed a memorandum of understanding with Hyundai to help bring 1,000 heavy-duty fuel cell trucks and a renewable hydrogen network to the country over a five-year period.
Giving the example of Switzerland, which has rewarded zero-emission vehicles since 1994 with zero taxation on road miles (compared to a c.£80,000 cost for a Euro-5 truck running 100,000kms), Dietrich said that hydrogen can prove to be a cost effective option for operators providing they were prepared to pay a small premium for the upfront cost of their vehicles in the short term.
“Every country has to find its own setting to establish a profitable eco system,” Dietrich said while speaking at the Movin'On sustainability conference in Montreal, Canada.
In order to work successfully Dietrich believes, hydrogen production must be established along with hydrogen refuelling network and a logistics network using and distributing the fuel. Once in place and with roughly 10 trucks or buses using a facility it becomes sustainable and the viability of these heavy users will then prompt growth in hydrogen passenger car uptake.
“We already see that private users will go a long way to save one or two cents on their fuel. We cannot replace the 3,000 filling stations [in Switzerland] with hydrogen filling stations, but one covering 20km will be enough to bring in private passenger cars.”
While, fossil fuel prices and that of hydrogen are currently on a par in Switzerland, Dietrich adds that heavy trucks, and the refuelling network built around them, will encourage wider uptake of the zero-emission fuel.