The Mayor of London’s Office is coordinating the project, which features the automakers BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota, and hydrogen fueling companies including Air Products, Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, ITM Power, Linde and OMV. Other signatories include Element Energy, PE International, the Institute for Innovative Technology, and the European Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU).
This demonstration project – the largest of its kind in Europe – is being funded with €18 million from the FCH JU, and €20 million from the industrial partners. Using hydrogen gas as a fuel to generate electric power, these vehicles only emit water vapour from the tailpipe. They have the potential to be more than twice as fuel-efficient as conventionally powered vehicles, and operate very quietly.
The motor manufacturers in this project are developing and demonstrating hydrogen powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The prospect of these becoming more widely available is now seen as increasingly likely, as the currently high cost of the technology falls and hydrogen vehicles become affordable.
Supporters of the new technology point to the rapid refueling times for hydrogen cars, and their potential to cover over 400 miles (650 km) before they need refueling. They also believe that fuel cells will have the ability to be scaled up to run larger vehicles such as buses or trucks.
Hydrogen infrastructure will be built across several countries as part of this European project. Refueling stations will be built and operated in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria and Italy, as well as in London.
An advantage for the new technology is that these stations will share internationally agreed fuel and refueling standards. All of the partners in the project see the initial investment to build small clusters of stations as key to gaining the research knowledge that will demonstrate the viability of hydrogen fueled vehicles.
Locations are being sought for three new hydrogen refueling stations in London, one each in Aarhus and Odense in Denmark, and one in Innsbruck, Austria. These are expected to be operational by 2015, by which time some of the manufacturers in the partnership will have started to put hydrogen fueled cars on sale in some European markets.
UK-based ITM Power has been awarded a £2.8 million (€3.3 million) contract under the HyFIVE project to supply three of its electrolyser-based refueling stations to London. These CE marked, rapid-response grid-balancing stations will be the first green hydrogen deployments in London, and are expected to be operational in time to coincide with the roll-out of FCEVs planned by the major OEMs.
Air Products will provide access to its existing Smartfuel® stations in London. One is at Heathrow Airport, and fuels a fleet of hydrogen fuel cell taxis that were launched for the 2012 Summer Olympics, as well as a fleet of vans operated by Commercial Group. The other is at Lea Interchange, Stratford, and fuels the hydrogen fuel cell buses operating on the RV1 route between Covent Garden and Tower Gateway Station.
The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) is a unique public-private partnership supporting research, technological development, and demonstration activities in fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. Its three components are the European Commission, the fuel cell and hydrogen industries represented by the NEW Industry Grouping, and the research community represented by the N.ERGHY Research Grouping.