Automaker Daimler and industrial gas supplier Linde, both based out of Germany are putting up 20 additional hydrogen fueling stations around Germany. The stations are part of the European Union Hydrogen Highway that is now being built by multiple countries.
According to the press release, “The initiative links in with the existing H2 Mobility and Clean Energy Partnership infrastructure projects, which are being subsidised by the National Innovation Programme for hydrogen and fuel-cell technology (NIP). This places Germany at the international forefront of hydrogen infrastructure development.
“The initiative that Linde and Daimler are embarking upon involves investment running into the tens of millions, and is set to more than triple the number of public hydrogen refuelling points in Germany. The new stations will be located in the current hydrogen centres of Stuttgart, Berlin and Hamburg as well as along two new continuous north-south and east-west axes. The aim is to use existing sites belonging to different petroleum companies that are strategically located in the traffic network. This will make it possible to drive anywhere in Germany with a fuel-cell-powered vehicle for the first time. One of the focal points for the infrastructure’s extension will be in Baden-Württemberg, where, 125 years after the invention of the motor car, the stage is being set for its reinvention.”
Daimler and Linde go onto say, “This means that Germany clearly leads the way in Europe. To begin with, just five to ten filling stations are sufficient for conveniently servicing the requirements of a large city. Joining up these urban centres – for example Berlin with Hamburg, Stuttgart with Munich – by means of corridors along the arterial roads between them is a major step forward towards the establishment of a nationwide public H2 infrastructure.”
What interests me about these statements is the no nonsense, non-political, logical approach that these German companies are taking towards scaling up a hydrogen fueling infrastructure slightly ahead of the commercial rollout of a small number of hydrogen cars. Daimler and Linde have decided to put up a basic skeletal hydrogen fueling infrastructure in order to accommodate the early adopters of this automotive technology.
While in the U. S. naysayers are stating things like “If there were 1 million hydrogen cars on the road today, we would need tens of thousands of hydrogen fueling stations to accommodate this.” This kind of thinking is wrong on so many levels. One million hydrogen cars will not suddenly appear overnight out of thin air. Also, tens of thousands of hydrogen stations would not be needed to accommodate 1 million vehicles, if we build it right. Right now there are approximately 885 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling stations nationwide.
The Honda Civic GX CNG car is being sold nationwide. The locations of the CNG stations can be found here. A similar model can be used for hydrogen cars as well, not the gasoline station model.
Growing the infrastructure slightly ahead of the rollout of the vehicles is the right approach.
Giving the car companies a stake in the rollout of the H2 infrastructure is also the right approach. Having car companies invested in the infrastructure will mean the pace of the rollout of both vehicles and infrastructure will entail very calculated decisions.
One can see that Daimler, who has the most hydrogen cars on the road of any automaker worldwide, is very committed to the success of the commercialization of hydrogen cars. Yesterday Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz F-CELL World Drive finished its last leg of its 125 world tour (along with Linde who is supplying the hydrogen gas) heading back to the Mercedes-Benz Headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.