The State of Germany’s Hydrogen Infrastructure
To bring hydrogen-powered vehicles to a mass market, a nationwide network of hydrogen filling stations is needed. The initiatives and companies responsible are behind schedule - but have ambitious plans.26 Apr 2016
Just a few weeks ago, Tesla introduced its Model 3 - the car that experts believe could see e-mobility reach wider public acceptance. However, hydrogen has to be part of the conversation when talking about renewable energy sources for vehicles. In the Public Forum Hydrogen + Fuel Cells + Batteries , H2 infrastructure pioneers in Germany discussed the current status quo.
The last will be first?
In June 2012, politicians and companies from the automotive, gas and petroleum sectors set a clear goal: the target was 50 hydrogen filling stations in place by 2015. Today, there are 20. Thomas Brachmann does not see this as a problem. For the Chief Project Engineer, Automobile Engineering & Research at Honda R & D Europe , it is more about a voluntary commitment by all partners than rigid quotas. "Satisfied customers are more important than fast expansion," says Brachmann. Honda itself sells most of its hydrogen vehicles in California - due in part to the more highly developed infrastructure there. Europe is only the third most important market.
Manfred Becker from Shell Deutschland Oil takes an optimistic view of the expansion of the filling station network. "It's gaining speed." Shell intends to expand its existing filling stations, as well as building dedicated hydrogen filling stations. As a result, the company is involved in the H2 Mobility initiative. It aims to achieve nationwide hydrogen mobility in Germany. According to Managing Director Frank Sreball, this should be completed by 2023. By then, 400 filling stations must be in place in Germany and neighboring regions. How will that be done?
Competition of energy sources
"It is like building a skyscraper," says Sreball. "The foundation is by far the most difficult thing to build. The stories after that go quickly." The milestone of 100 stations is to be reached by 2018.
But why choose hydrogen when electro mobility is all the rage? Sreball lists a number of reasons: a higher range and in particular more convenient and faster refueling. "We are simply used to normal filling stations and have had a good experience with them."
Linde AG is also a key stakeholder in H2 Mobility. The future is clear for Head of Hydrogen Solutions Markus Bachmeier: "We are investing in the hydrogen infrastructure as it will pay off in the long term - unlike e-mobility." The business model just has to be profitable to ensure that infrastructures are not only built, but can be operated and maintained permanently. "No one wants state subsidies for decades," explains Bachmeier.
Linde AG has now purchased a whole fleet of hydrogen vehicles. A car sharing model has been launched to convince consumers of the advantages of H2-powered cars. Visitors to HANNOVER MESSE can even take one for a test drive at the outdoor area in front of Hall 27.
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