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Solar hydrogen filling station opens in Freiburg, Germany

A public solar powered hydrogen filling station for vehicles has been opened in Freiburg, Germany, by Fraunhofer ISE.

By Kari Williamson

Sponsored by the Ministry of the Environment Baden-Württemberg, the station will serve as a demonstration platform, as well as marking a milestone in the hydrogen filling station network planned in the state.

The roof of the hydrogen filling station and a neighbouring building, has seen the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays, which are used to power the electrolysis creating the hydrogen.

The station consists of a 30 bar electrolyser supplied by US-based Proton Onsite, combined with Air Products technology to compress, store and then dispense hydrogen at up to 700 bar.

It can be used to tank cars, buses and bikes powered by fuel cells.

It takes on average around 3 minutes to tank a vehicle, which can then drive more than 400 km on the fuel, Fraunhofer says.

A further advantage is that hydrogen can be used to stabilise intermittencies in the grid from fluctuating renewable energy system, in the sense that it can be used as storage for energy surplus, which can be released on demand.

As the inauguration of the solar hydrogen station, Director General of the Baden-Württemberg's Environment Ministry, Helmfried Meinel, said: “The State of Baden-Württemberg promotes the expansion of the hydrogen infrastructure, and herewith supports the national automobile industry and its suppliers towards a sustainable, future-proof mobility.

“With the new solar hydrogen filling station in Freiburg, we are also pleased to have a research platform linking renewable energy and electric mobility. Because, we can only achieve our energy and climate-political aims with 'green hydrogen' – that is hydrogen generated from renewable energy sources.”

Fraunhofer ISE says “renowned” car manufacturers have already affirmed plans to produce fuel cell vehicles at greater volumes from 2012. Furthermore, companies from the oil industry and large electric utilities have formed the H2 Mobility initiative, which aims to build a hydrogen infrastructure across Germany by 2017.

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Energy infrastructure  •  Energy storage including Fuel cells  •  Photovoltaics (PV)