A £31 million, pan-European deal has been struck to make hydrogen vehicles a viable and environmentally friendly choice for motorists across Europe. Coordinated by the Mayor of London's Office, the project — the largest of its kind in Europe — features the support of BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota, along with hydrogen fuel companies Air Products, Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, ITM Power, Linde and OMV.
Other partners include Element Energy, PE International, Institute for Innovative Technology and the European Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.
The auto manufacturers have agreed to deploy a total of 110 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles across London; Munich; Copenhagen; Bolzano, Italy; Innsbruck, Austria; and Stuttgart, Germany and develop new clusters of hydrogen refueling stations. A search is on for suitable locations in London, Aarhus and Odense in Denmark, and Innsbruck for three new fueling stations. The stations are expected to be operational by 2015, by the time some of the automobile manufacturers in the partnership will have hydrogen-fueled cars on the market in Europe. The stations will share internationally agreed fuel and refueling standards.
Byung Kwon Rhim, president of Hyundai Motor Europe, said that “the collective mid-term goal is to grow a pan-European refueling network and ensure more vehicles are seen on the road.” According to the Mayor's Office, all the HyFive partners see the initial investment as key to gaining “research knowledge that will demonstrate the viability of hydrogen-fueled vehicles.”
“With a total of 110 FCEVs and 6 new refueling stations, HyFIVE will represent the largest single project of its kind financed by the FCH JU,” said Bert De Colvenaer, executive director of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking. “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.”
Hydrogen power is increasingly being seen as the future of driving: With zero emissions (aside from water), the vehicles are quiet and have the potential to be twice as fuel-efficient as conventionally powered vehicles, says the Mayor's Office. But the lack of hydrogen refueling stations has been a big stumbling block.
“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,” said London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Deputy Mayor of London for Business and Enterprise, Kit Malthouse, added: “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.”
Stateside, GM and Honda announced a partnership last summer to co-develop next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies by 2020. In the meantime, a shortage of filling stations in the States creates the same limitations to widespread adoption of the technology as in Europe.