Some major announcements on the part of major global corporations have seen some heavy hitters backing hydrogen fuel cell technology, adding credibility to predictions of a move over to hydrogen in long distance trucking operations.
In a major announcement this week, Daimler Trucks, Iveco, Shell, OMV and the Volvo Group committed to work together to help create the conditions for the mass-market roll-out of hydrogen trucks in Europe. These H2Accelerate (H2A) participants believe that hydrogen is an essential fuel for the complete decarbonisation of the truck sector.
This announcement follows Korean industrial giant Hyundai’s recent commitment to a fuel cell future, with 50 fuel cell trucks on the road in Switzerland. There have also announcements by Traton Group (Volkswagen, Scania and MAN) and Hino on a joint venture to develop electric drivelines, as well as a US initiative where Toyota is fitting its fuel cell technology in a fleet of Kenworth trucks.
Achieving a large-scale roll-out of hydrogen fuelled trucks is expected to create new industries. These will include zero-carbon hydrogen production facilities, large-scale hydrogen distribution systems, a network of high-capacity refuelling stations for liquid and gaseous hydrogen, and the production of the hydrogen fuelled trucks.
“Climate change is the challenge of our generation and we are fully committed to the Paris Climate Agreement for decarbonising road transport,” says Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO of the Volvo Group. “In the future, the world will be powered by a combination of battery-electric and fuel-cell electric vehicles, along with other renewable fuels to some extent. The formation of the H2Accelerate collaboration is an important step in shaping a world we want to live in.”
H2A participants contend that synchronised investments across the road transport sector during the 2020s will create the conditions for the mass market roll-out of hydrogen fuelled heavy duty transportation which is required to meet the European ambition of net zero emissions by 2050.
The decade long scale-up is expected to begin with groups of customers willing to make an early commitment to hydrogen-based trucking. These fleets are expected to operate in regional clusters and along European high capacity corridors with good refuelling station coverage. During the decade, these clusters can then be interconnected to build a truly pan-European network.
“The participant companies in H2Accelerate agree that hydrogen-powered trucks will be key for enabling CO2-neutral transportation in the future,” says Martin Daum, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler Truck. “This unprecedented collaboration is an important milestone for driving forward the right framework conditions for establishing a mass market for hydrogen-based trucking. It is also a call to action for policymakers, further players involved and society as a whole.”
Under H2Accelerate, the participants expect to work together to seek funding for early pre-commercial projects during the first phase of the roll-out. In parallel, the participants will engage with policy makers and regulators to encourage a policy environment which will help support the subsequent scale up into volume manufacturing for hydrogen trucks and a Europe-wide refuelling network for zero carbon hydrogen fuel.
“The widespread adoption of hydrogen fuel-cell technology in heavy-duty transport is a function of the necessary infrastructure,” says Gerrit Marx, President Commercial & Specialty Vehicles at CNH Industrial, Iveco. “We also need very concrete projects to demonstrate with hauliers and other stakeholders in the industry that this solution is financially and operationally viable. The ground-breaking H2Accelerate collaboration will create the conditions for this to happen and accelerate the transition to zero-emission transport.”