Mansveld: the Netherlands is preparing for driving on hydrogen fuel cells

The number of hydrogen filling stations will be increased over the next two years in order to allow the Dutch population to become familiar with driving on hydrogen. Around the end of the year, a new public hydrogen filling station suitable for buses and passenger cars will be completed in Rotterdam. In addition, a new filling station on the Automotive Campus NL in Helmond is in the preparatory phase and there are concrete plans to upgrade the existing hydrogen filling stations in Amsterdam and Arnhem and make them technologically fit for the latest generation of vehicles. State Secretary Wilma Mansveld (Infrastructure & the Environment) announced these sustainable mobility activities today during a working visit to Air Liquide, a hydrogen producer in Rotterdam.

Mansveld: “We are standing on the threshold of the introduction of driving on hydrogen in the Netherlands. In the time ahead, Hyundai, Toyota, Daimler and Honda will be rolling out their first hydrogen-powered vehicles for the Dutch market. We need to prepare our country for these clean and sustainable vehicles. The government and market parties are working on this together: the government on creating understandable, attractive and safe preconditions, and the business community on delivering sustainable, innovative concepts and technologies.”

Market preparation

To make the market introduction of fuel-cell-powered vehicles possible, in the next two years the government, leading companies in the gas and automotive industries and local authorities will gain experience with hydrogen projects such as the construction of hydrogen filling stations. The aim is to formulate preconditions for safety, granting permits and taxation, and at the same time to allow society as a whole to become familiar with driving on hydrogen. Currently, a few public transport buses are already running on hydrogen as part of demonstration projects. Several passenger cars and new buses will be added in the near future.

New hydrogen filling stations

Around the end of the year, a new public hydrogen filling station will be completed at a strategic location on the A15 in Rotterdam to facilitate large-scale use. This project is a collaboration between the municipality of Albrandswaard and the Rotterdam Hydrogen Platform which includes the municipality of Rotterdam, the Rotterdam Climate Initiative (RCI) and the hydrogen producer Air Liquide.

A new filling station is being built on the Automotive Campus NL, part of Brainport Eindhoven, in Helmond. A 350-bar station for buses is to be completed by the end of September and a 700-bar facility for passenger cars will be added around the end of the year.  The project in Helmond is an initiative of Waterstofnet, a Flemish-Southern Netherlands cooperation organisation for the development of hydrogen.

National and international cooperation

The possibility of a ‘Green Deal’ to further shape hydrogen-powered mobility in the Netherlands is currently being explored with market parties and civil society organisations. Consultations are also underway with regions that have shown an interest in hydrogen infrastructure.

At the European level, the Netherlands is working – together with Denmark, Sweden, France, the UK and Germany – on harmonising the roll-out of a European hydrogen infrastructure network. The new hydrogen filling station in Rotterdam is part of this project which is very much in line with the European Commission’s recent proposal to construct fuelling infrastructure for alternative fuels, including hydrogen.

Sustainable mobility and driving on hydrogen

Driving on hydrogen has the potential to make mobility completely emission-free, with no  CO2 emissions or local air pollution (particulates, NOx). It is therefore one of the promising paths towards sustainable mobility, alongside plug-in electric cars and the use of sustainable biofuels.

Hydrogen-powered cars have a quiet, electric engine that gets its electricity from hydrogen. The vehicles have a fuel cell on board that converts hydrogen into electricity, and are referred to as fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV). The potential of hydrogen in terms of  reducing CO2 emissions is enormous: up to virtually 100 percent if the hydrogen is produced in an emission-free manner, via solar or wind energy, or sustainable biomass or biogas energy. Fuel cell electric vehicles are completely emission-free while driving.

Filling stations dispense hydrogen in compressed form at a ‘normal’ pump. The standard pressure for buses is about 350 bar and for passenger cars, 700 bar. Today’s fuel cell electric vehicles can drive some 500 to 600 km on 1 full tank, and refilling the tank takes about 3 minutes. The expectation is that from 2015 several thousand such vehicles will come onto the global market.