Agrola AG, AVIA Association, Coop, Coop Mineraloel AG, the fenaco Cooperative, Migrol AG and the Federation of Migros Cooperatives are establishing an association with the goal to jointly develop a nationwide network of hydrogen refueling stations in Switzerland. With their infrastructure they intend to set a basis for the operation of zero emission fuel cell vehicles – a pioneering step towards sustainable mobility in Switzerland. Within five years parts of their own fleet should be transitioned to fuel cell propulsion serving as a basis to run the infrastructure profitably and with no subsidies.
Zurich – Even though everybody is talking about battery-powered electric cars, a second electric drive form is already within reach. According to the experts in the sector, hydrogen can be a sustainable technology to store energy on demand and supply electric vehicles with renewable electricity – with several significant advantages. The vehicles can be refuelled in a few minutes with a range of 600 kilometres or more. And instead of exhaust emissions, the vehicle only produces water vapour.
Hydrogen mobility combines the advantages of an electric vehicle with the amenities and routines to which drivers have been accustomed for decades. Furthermore, hydrogen can be seamlessly worked into the renewable energy system as an energy source, and its proof of origin is guaranteed.
Jörg Ackermann, President of the newly-founded association and member of the Coop management board: “As founding members of the association, these seven companies wish to provide the initial impetus and contribute to the breakthrough of this pioneering technology for mobility applications”.
Hydrogen refuelling stations for clean heavy duty vehicles
Due to the lack of a nationwide hydrogen refuelling network the technology so far has not been able to successfully make its way. The members of the association have decided to immediately trigger a change. Jointly they operate more than 1500 traditional refuelling stations and over 1700 heavy duty vehicles – an ideal constellation to establish a nationwide hydrogen infrastructure. The ambitious timeframe for completion is set for 2023.
Compared to passenger cars, heavy duty trucks need 30 to 50 times more hydrogen per year and vehicle. It only takes 10 fuel cell-powered commercial vehicles to allow a hydrogen refuelling station to economically break-even. Therefore, the association members are able to solve the chicken/egg dilemma on their own. In addition, they have established a policy to use green hydrogen only – hydrogen exclusively produced via electrolysis with renewable energy (e.g. at a Swiss hydro power plant).
While several fuel cell passenger cars are already in the market, hydrogen lorries and buses will be launched soon at full speed worldwide.
Daniel Hofer, CEO of Migrol AG and also President of the Swiss Oil Association, summarises “The current, traditional and well-proven, nationwide network of petrol stations in Switzerland can be ideally complemented with hydrogen components and serve as a basis to refuel fuel cell-powered electric vehicles as well”.
The association as a platform and start-up
The association founded on May 17, 2018 serves as a platform for its members. It specializes in addressing basic questions regarding development, market dynamics, technical questions and definitions of standards for hydrogen production, vehicles and hydrogen refuelling stations. Additionally, the association ensures that all components of this sustainable, CO2-free system are available in Switzerland in order to accelerate the expansion of hydrogen technology.
The association does not itself intend to pursue any commercial gains and is open to further members. The particular investments for vehicles and infrastructure are funded by the individual members on their own expense.
The establishment of the association was undertaken by seven major Swiss companies:
Agrola AG (www.agrola.ch)
AVIA Association (www.avia.ch)
Coop Mineraloel AG (www.coop-mineraloel.ch)
fenaco Cooperative (www.fenaco.com)
Migrol AG (www.migrol.ch)
Federation of Migros Cooperatives (www.migros.ch)