By Mark Luth, FCHEA Intern
The European Union (EU) has played a vital role in the development of hydrogen and fuel cell technology in Europe. Over the past decade, EU initiatives and funding opportunities have greatly contributed to the growing market for hydrogen across multiple sectors in the region. The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) was established in 2008 between the EU, industry leaders, and research organizations in an attempt to speed up the development and deployment of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies across Europe. In 2014, the EU decided to continue this initiative under the Horizon 2020 Framework, the EU’s largest research and innovation program. As of November 2018, the FCH JU had contributed to the deployment of hundreds of fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), along with dozens of fuel cell buses and hydrogen refueling stations (HRS) across Europe.
The FCH JU has funded or co-funded several programs to improve the prospects for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies across European markets. The Joint Initiative for Hydrogen Vehicles across Europe (JIVE), which began in 2017, seeks to deliver 139 fuel cell buses and the accompanying hydrogen refueling infrastructure across five countries. A year later, the next phase of the initiative (JIVE 2) was launched alongside the original six-year program. Combined, the JIVE and JIVE 2 programs plan to deploy nearly 300 fuel cell buses in 22 cities across Europe. Thanks to these initiatives and other EU undertakings, fuel cell buses can currently be found in operation in the United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland.
Launched in June 2015, Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME) is the EU’s flagship program for increasing access to FCVs and developing a network of hydrogen refueling stations across Europe. The first phase of the initiative, which will end in 2020, expects to deliver over 300 FCVs to European countries, and to install 29 hydrogen refueling stations. The second phase (H2ME2), which began in 2016, includes plans to add an additional 20 stations to the regional hydrogen refueling network, and to deliver over 1,100 FCVs.
In March of 2018, the EU launched a five-year project to replace backup diesel generators with hydrogen fuel cells across Europe. The EVERYWH2ERE project brings together twelve European companies to develop fuel cells for temporary, easily portable power for use in urban environments. For the initial project, PowerCell Sweden has received €7 million ($7.8 million) to build eight plug-and-play hydrogen fuel cell generators as for demonstration in cities across Europe.
In September, European leaders from 28 countries signed the Linz Hydrogen Initiative in Linz, Austria, alongside a group of industry partners which included FCHEA members Hydrogenics and Hexagon. The informal agreement aims to accelerate the growth of renewable hydrogen energy in Europe, as a means of both meeting climate targets and improving the economic competitiveness of the European Union.
Later that month, a consortium led by WatersOfNet announced a project to install eight hydrogen refueling stations with funding from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) program. The CEF program, launched in 2014, supports targeted infrastructure projects in the areas of transport, energy, and digital services. Expected to be delivered by 2020, the consortium will bring four stations to the Netherlands, three to Belgium, and one to Luxembourg, all along Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Corridors.
This January, authorities from Spain’s Valencia Port signed an accord with the FCH JU to advance the use of hydrogen fuel cells via the H2Ports initiative. The Valencia Port will receive funding to demonstrate hydrogen fuel cells in several logistics vehicles involved in cargo operations, the first of which will be a reach stacker and a terminal tractor.
In March, FCHEA member Air Products delivered the first hydrogen to be certified under the EU CertifHY initiative. CertifHY is the first program to lay out a Guarantees of Origin (GO) scheme for renewably sourced hydrogen, issuing its first GOs in December 2018. The program hopes to inform consumers about the sources of their hydrogen energy and assist industry actors in conforming with regulatory requirements.
The European Union has been instrumental in advancing the deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and have plans to further push the industry towards commercialization. For countries going to great lengths to advance their hydrogen economies, EU programs have provided the assistance necessary for them to achieve their goals. To take a look at how the EU has spurred progress in some of Europe’s top hydrogen markets, check out our past blogs on recent hydrogen and fuel cell industry developments in The United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Scandinavia.