Who can make the most of hydrogen and fuel cells? This question seems to have sparked a fierce competition between several German government ministries since late 2019 as they are vying with each other for control over the debate. Their tug-of-war began spreading through the political landscape when hydrogen became an issue to campaign on early this year, prior to the Hamburg state elections. Although the Christian Democrats were the ones who actively promoted the technology for a while, public opinion seems to have shifted in favor of what the Social Democrats are planning to do with it.
I’m a hydronaut. No, that’s not a term for an underwater astronaut, but a term Honda uses to describe me, as one of their Clarity Fuel Cell electric vehicle (FCEV) drivers on California’s road today. Between three automakers (Honda, Toyota, Hyundai) there are now over 7,000 (Aug 1, 2019) FCEV’s on the road.
Meeting the German federal government’s ambitious climate target, that is, a 95 percent reduction in GHG emissions until 2050 compared to a 1990 baseline, will require a decarbonized transportation sector. Cars powered by conventional engines must be replaced by low-emission versions. The two most promising substitutes are battery-electric vehicles or BEVs and fuel cell vehicles or FCEVs.
Not only has the second generation of Hyundai’s fuel cell car been unveiled earlier than expected, the price has already been set as well. The first event featuring the Next Gen Fuel Cell was moved up half a year and took place in mid-August in South Korea’s capital Seoul. The car scheduled to hit the market in early 2018 will cost EUR 54,000 (USD 62,712) outside South Korea
People need to experience electric transportation on their own, something which is true for drivers of both battery and fuel cell cars. At least an adequate number of purely battery-driven vehicles have already made it onto the public roads in Germany. But how can people today gather their own personal experiences of driving fuel cell vehicles?
This is a report from Mortimer Schulz, the owner and founder of solutions in energy e.U., who drove a rented Hyundai Tucson ix35 FCEV on February 16th and 17, 2016 from Innsbruck to Amsterdam with a total distance of 1,099 kilometres (km). His motivation was to gain experience in pursuing a journey in a fuel cell vehicle with a limited number of hydrogen refuelling stations along the way. The four stops were Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Duesseldorf and Helmond.
The State of California is becoming more optimistic about early fuel cell vehicle sales, based on a survey of automakers. The fuel cell vehicle fleet is estimated to reach 34,300 by the end of 2021 (see chart). The estimate is high enough to raise concerns that California’s aggressive fueling station deployment program may fall short of demand.
In the good-natured international race to deploy hydrogen fueling stations for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV), Japan has taken a clear lead, with 74 stations approved to date, a dramatic jump from the 45 stations operating or under construction at the end of 2014. By comparison, California and Germany have about 50 stations in operation or under development.
Eight companies that won a public competition for funds to build hydrogen fueling stations in California are scrambling this summer to meet an October 31, 2015, target date for opening their stations, with at least $4.5 million at stake. The California Energy Commission (CEC) awarded $46.6 million in 2014 for 28 stations and a mobile refueler. A start-up, FirstElement Fuel, won financing for 19, but there were seven other winners. CEC funding will pay 85% of station costs, but only if stations come on line before November 1, 2015. The subsidy goes to 75% November 2015 through February 2016, and to 70% thereafter.