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New energies 27/07/2020

Hydrogen Fuels The Future Of European Transport

Today, the transport sector contributes roughly one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions within the European Union. According to the European Environment Agency, to meet climate targets we will need to slash emissions from transport 60% by 2050 compared to 1990s levels. 

This is a daunting task, but the good news is that Europe is shifting to more sustainable transport at an unprecedented rate — both through the ever-growing market of battery-fueled electric vehicles as well as the more recent adoption of hydrogen-powered fuel-cell cars. As costs for both clean vehicles and fuels continue to drop, European cities are now removing one of the last barriers to low-emission mobility: the lack of recharging and fueling stations. 

Quai des Energies

In the French city of Lyon, the construction of a multi-energy green service point is set for completion by 2021. The station, managed by the Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR), will be located at the entrance of the Port of Lyon Edouard Herriot, one of the busiest ports in France. The Quai des Energies is an extension of the HyWay program, a pioneering test project involving 21 electric-hydrogen utility vehicles and three hydrogen filling stations in Lyon and Grenoble. Its first phase was launched in April 2014. For the 2021 opening, the station’s new features will include: 

  • Charging stations for battery electric vehicles as well as increased hydrogen and bioGNC capacity. 
  • GNVert, a subsidiary of ENGIE Solutions (Cofely), will provide local biogas produced from the sludge of treatment plants and from the methanization of agricultural waste.
  • The station will be powered by green electricity from the nearby Pierre-Bénite hydroelectric plant. 
  • One of the existing 50 kW quick charging stations will be swapped for a 350 kW ultra-rapid unit that limits the charging time to 15 minutes, while the hydrogen capacity will be increased from 40 to 80 kg per day. 

Zero Emission Valley; The HyWay Program’s Big Brother 

Clearly, the surrounding Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region believes in hydrogen. Also launched in Lyon, the Zero Emission Valley project is a regional initiative to deploy 20 green-hydrogen stations by 2023 that are fueled by electrolyzers using renewable energy. To date, it promises to be the largest hydrogen mobility project in France, bringing together 80% of the country’s hydrogen players, including companies, research centers, organizations and energy clusters. The aim is to make the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes one Europe’s first carbon-neutral territories. Engie Solutions have been chosen by Hympulsion, the company deploying the project, to design and build the stations. Here are some key details: 

  • The $52-million project also includes the deployment of 1,200 fuel cell vehicles, which will take between three and five minutes to recharge. 
  • Several of the stations will produce their zero-carbon hydrogen on site to further lower emissions. 
  • Ultimately, the stations will produce 1,600 kg of green energy per day, avoiding the burning of 623,000 liters of fossil fuels and the emission of 1,517 tons of CO2 per year.

Futuristic Finland 

Other European countries are also taking steps into the future. Oil refining and marketing company Neste has opened Finland’s first low-emission service point in the city of Tuusula located in the Helsinki sub-region. The station already features fast charging for electric vehicles, while biogas and natural gas filling points will be opened in early autumn. Other innovations include: 

  • An intelligent fast-charging field for up to four electric vehicles where the total power is split between the cars. When the battery of one car is full, the released charging power is automatically transferred to the remaining chargers. 
  • Climate-friendly solutions have been used in the construction, using cross-laminated timber, swapping crushed rock for crushed concrete, while rubber granules have been used in the asphalt. 
  • The station is powered by a mix of solar, wind and hydroelectric power -- resulting in 70% lower CO2 emissions. 

Hydrogen-Powered Initiative To Connect Europe 

Air Liquide has teamed up with the Port of Rotterdam Authority in a bid to put 1,000 hydrogen-powered zero-emission trucks on the roads connecting the Netherlands, Belgium, and West Germany by 2025. The joint initiative, which also envisions 25 high-capacity hydrogen stations, is one of the largest hydrogen projects in Europe and brings together partners across the whole supply chain -- from truck manufacturers to transport companies and leading fuel cell suppliers. 

  • The initiative will slash yearly CO2 emission by 100,000 tons, which is roughly equivalent to 110 million kilometers driven. 
  • The project aims to install sufficient electrolysis capacity to produce low-carbon hydrogen. 
  • Air Liquide and the Port of Rotterdam expect more parties to join the team in the coming months, while the final investment decision is expected at the end of 2022.

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