Global leaders sign £31m plan to demonstrate the commercial case for hydrogen vehicles

3 April 2014

A pioneering £31 million deal will be struck today (3 April) to make hydrogen vehicles a viable and environmentally friendly choice for motorists across Europe.

Leading motor manufacturers, hydrogen fuel suppliers, the Mayor of London’s Office and energy consultancies from around the globe are signing up to the HyFive project, the largest of its kind in Europe, at City Hall in London today. Five different manufacturers have agreed to deploy a total of 110 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles at several European locations (Bolzano, Copenhagen, Innsbruck, London, Munich, Stuttgart) and develop new clusters of hydrogen refuelling stations.

Locations are being sought for three new hydrogen refuelling stations in London, one in Aarhus and in Odense (Denmark) and one in Innsbruck (Austria). They are expected to be operational by 2015, by which time some of the manufacturers in the partnership will have started to put hydrogen fuelled cars on sale in some European markets. Using hydrogen gas as a fuel to generate electric power the revolutionary vehicles produce no harmful tailpipe emissions – only water vapour. They have the potential to be more than twice as fuel-efficient as conventionally powered vehicles and operate very quietly.

The Mayor of London’s Office is coordinating the multi million pound project, which has been signed up to by BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and hydrogen fuel companies including Air Products, Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, ITM Power, Linde, OMV. Other signatories include Element Energy, PE INTERNATIONAL, the Institute for Innovative Technology and the European Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.

The motor manufacturers who are part of this project are working on developing and demonstrating hydrogen powered fuel cell cars. The prospect of these becoming more widely available is now seen as increasingly likely as the currently high cost of the technology falls and hydrogen powered vehicles become affordable.  Supporters of the new technology point to the rapid re-fuelling times for hydrogen cars and their potential to cover over four hundred miles before needing to be re-fuelled. They also believe that fuel cells will have the ability to be scaled up to run larger vehicles such as buses or trucks.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “To sell this technology we need to show Londoners and the wider world that it is not science fiction. By building the vehicles and the filling stations and allowing people to kick the tyres we will be able to demonstrate that hydrogen is a viable option and that London is at the forefront of efforts to make it so.”

Hydrogen infrastructure will be built across several countries as part of this European project. Filling stations will be built and operated in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria and Italy, as well as in London. An advantage for the new technology is that these stations will share internationally agreed fuel and re-fuelling standards. All of the partners in the project see the initial investment to build small clusters of stations as key to gaining the research knowledge that will demonstrate the viability of hydrogen fuelled vehicles.

Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London for Business and Enterprise, said: “This technology was invented in the UK and London already has a massive research base around hydrogen and alternative fuels.  When you also consider that we already export thousands of vehicles from the UK that adds up to a big opportunity for many new jobs working in cutting edge new technologies. We are doing everything we can to ensure London is ready when the very first commercially available hydrogen vehicles begin to come to the market in 2015.  We are also extremely appreciative of the FCH JU’s commitment and support to the HyFIVE project, and our long term plans for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen technology to be a core component of our secure, affordable and low-carbon energy supply system in London”.

Bert De Colvenaer, Executive Director of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, said: “With a total of 110 FCEVs and 6 new refuelling stations, HyFIVE will represent the largest single project of its kind financed by the FCH JU. The high level of technology readiness of this zero emission transport technology will be showcased in 5 European Member States, thus ensuring a broad geographical outreach. In addition, the project will also contribute to the buildup of the first networks at local levels necessary to support the market introduction of the vehicles in the coming years. With the participation of leading automakers and infrastructure providers, HyFIVE illustrates the commitment from leading industrial players in the EU and the spirit of cooperation that I am convinced will enable the success of these technologies.“

Byung Kwon Rhim, President of Hyundai Motor Europe, said “The 15 partners of the HyFIVE project will work together to advance the awareness, understanding, viability and uptake of zero-emission hydrogen-powered vehicles, like the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell. The collective mid-term goal is to grow a pan-European refuelling network and ensure more vehicles are seen on the road.”

Prof Roger Putnam CBE, Non-Executive Chairman, of clean hydrogen fuel supplier ITM Power Plc, said “ITM Power is delighted to be part of this exciting pan-European project, delivering three new green hydrogen refuelling stations which will be deployed in London. These three new stations will form part of three European regions deploying six new 700bar hydrogen refuelling stations and incorporating 12 existing stations in the project. The fuelling station networks will offer hydrogen as a genuine fuelling choice for end users. Working with other partners in the project, Air Products, Linde, OMV and the Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, will stimulate the network density required for full commercial roll-out of hydrogen refuelling and FCEVs.”

Information for reporter:

  • The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) is a unique public private partnership supporting research, technological development and demonstration activities in fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. Its aim is to accelerate the market introduction of these technologies, realising their potential as an instrument in achieving a carbon-lean energy system.
  • Fuel cells, as an efficient conversion technology, and hydrogen, as a clean energy carrier, have a great potential to help fight carbon dioxide emissions, to reduce dependence on hydrocarbons and to contribute to economic growth. The objective of the FCH JU is to bring these benefits to Europeans through a concentrated effort from all sectors.
  • The three members of the FCH JU are the European Commission, fuel cell and hydrogen industries represented by the NEW Industry Grouping and the research community represented by Research Grouping N.ERG
  • This demonstration project has been funded with €18 million from the FCH JU and €20 million from the industrial partners.
  • Leading the way in tackling air quality, the Mayor has already brought in a programme of improvements, including hybrid buses and plans for an Ultra Low Emission Zone by 2020 which intends to restrict central London to those vehicles that have zero or near-zero tailpipe emissions. Hydrogen vehicles and the mass-market of hydrogen cars is a big part of that plan.

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Global leaders sign £31m plan to demonstrate the commercial case for hydrogen vehicles


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