Two high-level events show the Instrumental role of hydrogen in the decarbonisation of the heavy-duty industry in Europe

October 2020 began with two high-level conferences dedicated to the role of hydrogen in the decarbonisation of the heavy-duty industry. On 1 October, CEOs and experts from key industries, EU decision-makers, end-users and infrastructure providers met to discuss how zero-emission commercial vehicles can help decarbonise the road transport sector.

These two events featured H2Haul partners from all perspectives: CNH Industrial (OEMs), H2Energy (infrastructure providers), IRU (operators) and Hydrogen Europe (industry representatives).

ACEA-HE high-level online conference: How to scale up zero-emission commercial vehicles?

This conference – jointly organised by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) and Hydrogen Europe (HE) – focused on how to accelerate the market deployment of hydrogen fuel cell commercial vehicles. This event was another milestone after the signing of a joint statement between ACEA, IRU and HE to support the uptake of hydrogen infrastructure in October 2019, followed by the first fuel cell truck event at European level, which took place in Brussels on 5 March 2020.

The conference covered issues such as the strategies to develop fuel cell trucks, hydrogen corridors, hydrogen infrastructure suitable for trucks, the role of equipment suppliers, urban logistics and transport operators. The speakers showcased how hydrogen is essential for decarbonising road freight transport. Over 500 participants tuned in to the live discussions.

Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Secretary-General of Hydrogen Europe, stated: “Conferences like these are milestones for our sector. It is more than clear that the industry is prepared and committed to delivering products that will enable carbon neutrality. It is crucial to include vehicle supply, hydrogen supply, distribution, and infrastructure – as well as end-users – in this process. This will enable us to put the pieces in place, all at the same time, to allow a swift transition to a carbon-neutral Europe. With our proposal for a Clean TEN-T corridor, we would like to make a concrete contribution.”

Martin Daum, CEO of Daimler, said, “We are partnering with Volvo group to make fuel cells ready for the mass market, fast and cost-efficient. Two weeks ago, we introduced our Gen H2 truck, and customers trials will begin in 2023 with series production to follow in the second half of the decade. To make this a success story, we need vehicle production, infrastructure, and economic competitiveness. The EU should set the right direction for hydrogen infrastructure, with financial support. To allow OEMs to focus on carbon-neutral technology, new standards like Euro 7 should be reconsidered. In addition, a CO2 based toll system should be introduced, and CO2 taxes on diesel increased to enable a market penetration of carbon-neutral technologies.”

Gerrit Marx, President Commercial & Specialty Vehicles at CNH Industrial, said, “Natural gas with increasing shares of renewable bio content is the start to carbon neutrality, as it is available today, at scale. Natural gas represents an enabler and a blue bridge to the hydrogen economy, which has to become green ultimately. When it comes to hydrogen distribution, there is a network of pipelines and an already committed gas industry besides other stakeholders, which will accelerate the uptake of hydrogen. We, as IVECO,  pioneered liquified natural gas technology for heavy-duty applications and jointly with NIKOLA, we will launch hydrogen fuel cell trucks as the next chapter from carbon neutrality to zero emissions.  Gas is the enabler, and hydrogen is the goal. It has to become a reality by 2025 to enable CO2 emission compliance with economically feasible solutions.”

Florent Menegaux, CEO of Michelin, said, “We strongly believe that fostering the European hydrogen ecosystem through the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance is necessary. The idea is to develop concrete hydrogen projects and its ecosystem and to develop a new European industry. Beyond the EU, it is also up to countries and regions to encourage large scale hydrogen mobility projects. For example, we are part of the Zero Emission Valley project in the region Auvergne Rhône Alpes in France. This project is a collaboration between public and private stakeholders and aims to deploy 1,200 vehicles and 20 HRS in this region.”

Marco Alverà, CEO of Snam, said, “We need to invest massively in hydrogen infrastructure. It will be very important to develop hydrogen corridors across Europe, from North to South, East to West and to make sure there is a synergy between the TEN-T and TEN-E corridors. We would like to be involved in investing in this infrastructure. We have the opportunity to retrofit some existing pipelines to create dedicated hydrogen pipelines. […] The important task now is to coordinate in public-private partnerships, which is the spirit of the Clean Hydrogen Alliance.”

Jon André Løkke, CEO of Nel Hydrogen, said, “There are two fundamental challenges: the cost of electrolysers and the cost of renewable hydrogen need to go down. The equipment cost (electrolysers) also needs to go down, and that is dropping dramatically now. We are building our first line with 500 MW production, and we have space for 2 GW. It means that we are selling our equipment on a forward price which is competing with fossil fuel-based hydrogen”. He added, “We aim to make it as easy to refuel hydrogen as diesel. We aim to refuel between 50 kg and 100 kg H2 at 700 bar as close to 10 minutes as possible”.

Mark Sutcliffe, Senior Vice President, Alliance LCV Business Unit, Renault, stated, “Given the future key trends faced in urban logistics, urban logistics vehicles will need to be zero-emission. Clearly, they need to be practical, flexible, quiet, efficient, and cost-effective, and this is where hydrogen can play a huge part in the solution. I strongly believe that a fuel cell vehicle as range extender will produce a virtual circle for urban logistics. […] Renault Nissan has been a pioneer of pure electric vehicles for ten years for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, now we intend to make the same pioneering stand as we develop hydrogen range extension for those battery vehicles.”

“Truck manufacturers are fully committed to carbon-neutrality by 2050 at the latest. We are an important part of the transport and logistics ecosystem and are ready to take the lead to make this transition,” said ACEA Director-General, Eric-Mark Huitema. “To achieve this goal, we need to join forces with all players, and we need a coherent policy framework to enable and support the transition.”

To view a recording of this event, click here.

Decarbonisation of heavy transport and the role of hydrogen

The second event – organised by Politico and co-sponsored by CNH Industrial and Nikola Corporation – discussed the best pathway to decarbonise heavy transport and what role hydrogen can play in those ongoing efforts.

Gerrit Marx opened the event with a presentation on CNH Industrial’s ambitious plans to help reduce CO2 emissions. “We are excited about the opportunities presented by making zero-emission long-haul transport a reality and enjoyed sharing how hydrogen can contribute to the decarbonisation of the heavy transport industry,” he said. “This transformation has already begun, and CNH Industrial is at the forefront. We are working alongside Nikola to help complete the Tre BEV so that we can begin production at our JV manufacturing facility in Ulm, Germany, by the fourth quarter of next year.”, he added.

Adina-Ioana Vălean, European Commissioner for Transport, said, “Hydrogen will be an intrinsic part of the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, as it can serve all modes of transport, but the goal is climate neutrality, and we will have to be technologically neutral to get there and use all available fuels”. Commissioner Vălean later added, “Hydrogen is an essential part of the story because there is a lot of hope that hydrogen can help us meet the need for a sustainable alternative fuel for the future”.

Jorgo Chatzimarkakis said, “To be concrete, let us take the example of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean corridor. We would like to see in 10 years, by 2030, half of the trucks driving on this corridor, e.g. 40,000 trucks, powered by hydrogen. For this, we would need 218 refuelling stations. Basically, it is achieving with one TEN-T corridor half the demand of what the European Commission wants to have. In 2030, the EC wants to at least have 20 per cent zero-emission trucks. If we implement this plan, 10 per cent could be done already on this TEN-T corridor. This would be an abatement of 4.6 megatons of CO2.”

To view a recording of this event, click here.

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