Driving on hydrogen versus electric
A hydrogen car is in fact also an electric car. The car contains a so-called fuel cell that converts the hydrogen gas into electricity that powers the electric motor. The only thing that leaves the car are small water droplets. As a result, hydrogen cars drive without emissions and even CO 2 -neutral if they run on green hydrogen . What are the advantages and disadvantages of driving on hydrogen compared to electric driving?
Steep growth curve needed
This is necessary according to Scheffer, because the objectives in the Netherlands are ambitious given the current state of affairs. The Dutch Climate Agreement states that a total of 50 filling stations must be realized by 2025. The number of drivers with a hydrogen car should grow to 15,000 in 2025, and 300,000 in 2030. Scheffer about this: “A steep growth curve is indeed needed, but that exponential growth is still possible. The government has now provided funding for the construction of more than 20 stations. So they are still coming. We try to push the number towards that 50. ” Lisa Montanari adds: “These are mega steps that we have to take together.”
Hydrogen or electricity?
Shell expects hydrogen to play a significant role in the energy mix of the future. Hydrogen is an interesting option not only for light car transport, but also for heavier transport, especially given the high energy density of hydrogen. The discussion about car transport is often about choice, notes Lisa Montanari of Shell. Will it be electric? Or will it be hydrogen? “It is different, more nuanced. Hydrogen is complementary to electric transport. Both can coexist well. ”
Montanari gives an example of the increasingly busy inner cities. Electric driving cannot be the only option to work on ‘zero emission’ city logistics, especially given the load it places on the electricity grid. “Several options are really needed. Hydrogen is then a good and sustainable supplement, and can fulfill a buffer function due to the storage option. ” Berend Jan Hoekman also expects hydrogen to be on the rise for light transport: “Certainly in the Randstad, hydrogen can make a contribution to reducing CO 2 emissions, especially in the inner cities.”
Water droplets from the exhaust
Driving on hydrogen has a number of major advantages. The hearts of the Toyota and Hyundai directors beat faster when it comes to the driving performance of their new hydrogen cars: fast, comfortable and quiet. Design also plays a major role in the emotional appeal of hydrogen, says Jan-Christiaan Koenders of Toyota. “That car just has to be a must-have. And to think that only water droplets come out of the exhaust, that’s cool! ”
Long range and fast loading time: the plus points
Besides the fact that the cars only emit water and water vapor while driving, there are even more advantages for the user of a hydrogen car. Firstly, the range is mentioned. With about 600 kilometers on a full tank, a hydrogen car can go a long time without refueling. Another advantage is the refueling time. It takes about three to five minutes to fill up, comparable to refueling a conventional petrol car and significantly faster than charging an electric car.
Expand the network
The potential is there, but there are still enough barriers to break down to make driving on hydrogen in the Netherlands great. The modest infrastructure is one of them. “For customers, every hesitation must be removed,” says Koenders. “Without a minimum of 20 stations, driving on hydrogen simply becomes ‘a difficult thing’. And to be honest, I still find 20 little.
Central government control is required
According to the director of Hyundai, more central direction from the government is needed to build that infrastructure for hydrogen. “Initiatives are now fragmented and take place locally. The central government still misses opportunities here. ” Lisa Montanari believes that with the expansion of the network, its quality should not be forgotten. “We must continue to set the bar high and strive for a nationwide network that is always available. At the moment, the existing hydrogen filling points are still sometimes out. It’s a bad consumer experience if you can’t refuel. ”
Lisa Montanari and Sacha Scheffer from Rijkswaterstaat see collaboration as the keyword for the upscaling of hydrogen in light transport. Not only between the car industry and the industry that builds infrastructure and produces hydrogen. But also between government and private parties. Scheffer, for example, mentions the permit process that is currently still much ignorant. “Many local authorities have never issued a permit for the construction of a hydrogen station. The first time is exciting, because as a municipality you want to do it safely and properly. You have to share all the knowledge that the business community and government acquire. ”
Licensing process is new
This was also the case at the Den Ruygenhoek hydrogen station. Although Shell has gained enough experience across the border with realizing hydrogen filling points – Shell built a total of 50, mainly in Germany and the United States – this is the first in the Netherlands. “Municipalities and safety regions have no reference project, no policy manual specifically for hydrogen that they can rely on,” said Shell’s Hydrogen Commercial Manager. “That makes searching for a suitable location challenging. The permit process can also take longer than, for example, at a conventional petrol station. ” In addition, the technology for hydrogen stations is continuously developing. “Sometimes you want to adjust a pipe or a bolt because that is better. But then the design no longer corresponds to the permit granted. That causes a delay. We share our experiences with our partners in the consortium. So that granting a permit can be done faster and faster. But it remains an exciting story to explain because hydrogen is still a ‘new kid in town’. ”
Towards a uniform payment system
In addition to a smooth permit process, it is necessary to work on a uniform and accessible payment system. “At the moment there are still different fuel cards in circulation”, says Koenders of Toyota. “Ultimately, we have to choose one way of payment, preferably just with your bank card. You need a variety of parties for this and a government to coordinate that. ” Sacha Scheffer of Rijkswaterstaat indicates that the Netherlands is internationally active to develop these standards. He admits that it is a challenging process, also because international companies are working on hydrogen development. “We have also gone through that process with electric driving.”
A favorable addition scheme also helps
Finally, and not unimportantly, driving on hydrogen must become financially more attractive, in terms of purchase and use. A favorable addition scheme for the purchase of a hydrogen car can help. According to the director of Toyota, the production of hydrogen cars is still expensive: “Government money needs to be added. Production costs can only be reduced when there is high demand. ” He continues: “Because the hydrogen car is still at the beginning of the growth curve, extra tax incentives are necessary.” Both Jan-Christiaan Koenders and Berend Jan Hoekman of Hyundai refer to the situation in Asian countries, their largest sales market, partly due to the incentive schemes of the governments there. For 2020, the Netherlands has an addition scheme of 8% for cars driving without CO 2emissions. There is no maximum purchase price for hydrogen cars for this addition scheme.
The price of hydrogen at the pump
Hydrogen is sold at the pump in kilograms, approximately EUR 10 per kilogram excluding VAT at the pump. Converted, driving on hydrogen is comparable to driving on petrol. According to Scheffer, it is necessary to increase the production of hydrogen to also keep the price at the pump down. “Large volumes are needed,” says the Rijkswaterstaat advisor. “That is why industrial hydrogen projects such as Shell’s ambition are really necessary to make the price attractive for the consumer.” Montanari: “It’s about collaboration and upscaling.”
The opening of Den Ruygenhoek
The two car manufacturers and the government are looking forward to the new hydrogen station Den Ruygenhoek, as the latest link in the hydrogen network in the Netherlands. “We are really looking forward to it. It is a beautiful location ”, Jan-Christiaan Koenders refers to its convenient location in relation to Schiphol. “And it is a high-quality station, Shell has proven abroad.” Sacha Scheffer of Rijkswaterstaat is curious about how the station will function. “It is the first hydrogen station in the Netherlands along a motorway, and also along the transport corridor towards Schiphol. Different types of vehicles will be introduced, for example taxis that have to travel many kilometers every day and refuel quickly. Hydrogen is certainly interesting for this sector. ”
Den Ruygenhoek is a successful opening dance for the development of hydrogen for light transport in the Netherlands. “Now we have to work together to run hours”, Lisa Montanari concludes.