Hydrogen as a propulsion system for cars and trucks on German roads will, in the opinion of the "economic experts" Veronika Grimm, hydrogen will be indispensable for cars and trucks in the coming decades. "It is utopian to think that battery-powered electromobility will be the only solution", said the Nurnberg economics professor, who is also chairman of the Bavarian Hydrogen Center, to dpa. Recently there had been reports that European car manufacturers no longer want to rely on hydrogen as the drive system of the future.
Grimm said that hydrogen technology could be used efficiently at a comparatively early stage, especially in heavy-duty transportation. The goal must be to establish a network of filling stations for hydrogen vehicles, from which passenger car traffic could later also benefit. In Switzerland, 50 trucks from the Korean manufacturer Hyundai are already running on hydrogen, and 1600 such vehicles are expected by 2025. "Initially, for example, regional networks can be set up, which can then be successively expanded later on", said Grimm.
CO2 emissions in transport have not fallen since 1990, and have even risen in heavy goods traffic, Grimm noted. However, electrification in heavy goods traffic cannot be achieved using battery technology because of the range problem. "The alternative was overhead lines, but then all European main lines had to be equipped with them", said Grimm. In comparison, hydrogen produced with electricity from renewable energy sources in areas of the world where this is cheap and highly efficient is probably the cheaper alternative – transport costs would hardly be an ie any more.
Don’t give up on hydrogen technology
The German automotive industry, including its suppliers, would be well advised not to give up its existing hydrogen capabilities lightly. In the long term, global demand will increase significantly. "Failure to ramp up hydrogen quickly would mean putting important export markets at risk – because German companies are excellently positioned to produce key components for the hydrogen economy, such as vehicles, fuel cells, logistics and refueling station infrastructure", said the scientist.
The Free State of Bavaria as well as the Federal Government have meanwhile formulated their own hydrogen strategy. The German government calls for the development of the energy carrier with 300 million euros until 2023. Bavaria plans to set up a network of 100 hydrogen filling stations by 2023, mainly for truck fleets. Free State provides 50 million euros for this purpose.