The transport of cast, crew, and equipment often leaves a heavy carbon footprint. In the future, car rental companies will not be the only ones required to offer eco-friendly vehicles. As part of the European Green Deal, Euro 7 introduces stricter emission standards for all vehicles to reduce the emission of harmful nitrous gases. Starting in 2025, the EU’s Clean Vehicle Directive (CVD) will dictate minimum quotas for the reduction of pollutants emitted by automobiles, trucks, and buses. Whether it be battery, fuel cell, or combustion engine, the energy source of all vehicles needs to rid itself of carbon emissions. Electric cars, if charged with electricity generated by coal power, are not climate neutral at all.
When it comes to supplying energy for vehi- cles, infrastructure plays a key role. Biometh- ane, which is generated as Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) from biomass, has a good gas station infrastructure in Germany, but mainly fossil-generated methane is available. No comprehensive network of gas stations exists yet for either hydrogen or synthetic fuels. As part of the hydrogen strategy envisioned by both Germany and the EU, hydrogen should be produced primarily from renewables, such as wind and solar energy. One of the biggest hydrogen plants in Europe is being planned in Hamburg. An electrolyzer with 100-Megawatt output is going to be used to produce energy generated from renewables.
While battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV) may be used for lightweight cars and short trips of up to 300 km and can be charged by photo- voltaic panels from a building, fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) are suitable for the transport of heavy goods as well as for trips greater than 500 km. In the future, trucks, buses, trains, ships, and even planes will be powered by eco-friendly fuels such as green hydrogen. Founded in 2020, the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance embraces more than 600 interna- tional industrial companies, public institutions, and research institutes. Its goal is to invest about 430 billion euros in order to build 40 GW electrolyzer capacities within the EU.
So far, there are almost 100 hydrogen gas stations in Germany, and their numbers will grow with the support of the Federal Ministry of Transport. Only a handful of cities now have gas stations with 350 bar technology for hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles. Bavaria launched a 50-million-euro support program to install 100 hydrogen gas stations by 2023. In Northern Germany, where the Hydrogen Society Hamburg has been testing fuel cells for the vehicular sector since 1989, the company Clean Logistics is converting heavy diesel trucks to hydrogen hybrid engines. The first HyBat trucks with a range of more than 500 km are going into service in 2021.
Meanwhile, Quantron AG in Southern Germany specializes in converting heavy trucks and buses to fuel cell powered engines. In cooperation with AE Driven Solutions GmbH, existing trucks, from the 3.5-ton minivan to the 44-ton truck, are being equipped with fuel cells. In Ulm, Iveco is working with the US-based Nikola Motor Company on a new manufacturing line for the Nikola Tre semitrailer, so that trucks equipped with either battery or fuel cells will start rolling off the production line.
The first worldwide-produced Hyundai Xcient Fuel Cell Truck is already on the road in Switzerland. Since its launch in October 2020, the first worldwide series of hydrogen-powered vehicles reached the one million mark and compared to diesel trucks 631 tone of carbon emissions are saved. By 2025, the fleet of about5fifty 36 ton trucks will be expaned to 1.600 Hyundai XCIENT fuel cell trucks.
Photos: © Hyundai Motor Deutschland, Alexander Kirch/Shutterstock