Continuous infrastructure support

Lower Saxony's Environment Minister Olaf Lies (l.) inaugurated the new H2 station directly at the exhibition grounds in Laatzen during the Hanover Fair.
Lower Saxony’s Environment Minister Olaf Lies (l.) inaugurated the new H2 station directly at the exhibition grounds in Laatzen during the Hanover Fair, © Shell

Since the number of hydrogen filling stations in Germany is unstoppably approaching the three-digit range, the inauguration celebrations are becoming smaller and the press releases fewer. Most recently, numerous high-ranking industry representatives and politicians appeared at the 50th H2 station in Potsdam.

For the inauguration of the 67th, 68th or 69th location, the number of media representatives was not quite as high as before – probably only for the 100th time. This phenomenon is already known from other sectors (e.g. CNG, LPG) and is a good sign for the H2 and FC industries, as it shows that hydrogen filling stations are gradually becoming the norm.

H2 Mobility wants to reach the mark of 100 hydrogen filling stations by the end of 2019. The German government has been less ambitious so far and does not expect this figure until 2020. Then, as the official saying goes, further expansion will be based on the number of existing fuel cell vehicles, i.e. existing customers.

Nikolas Iwan, Managing Director of H2 Mobility, said about further planning during the Hanover Fair that the current demand for passenger cars does not currently justify adhering to the original target (400 H2 filling stations by 2023), which is why this figure is no longer communicated by H2 Mobility. In May 2019, however, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) launched a new call for funding to ensure that there is no premature end to infrastructure development after the hundredth H2 station. Accordingly, the Ministry will continue to cover up to fifty percent of eligible expenses for the construction of new filling stations, but will also support an electrolyser as part of the refuelling infrastructure for the production of green hydrogen with forty percent of the additional investment expenditure in the future. According to the BMVI, the BMVI would like to “continuously promote the further construction of publicly accessible hydrogen filling stations in road traffic”. Applications may be submitted until 31 July 2019.

Iwan further stated that he sees his company as an enabler. In this sense, the motto for 2020 is to build H2 filling stations where more than 50 FC cars are available. As of 2021, this will apply to 100 cars or more. With regard to the availability of the 71 stations opened by the end of May 2019, Iwan was reasonably satisfied: For example, the operational capability of the former CEP filling stations was initially only 79 percent, but now it reaches 93 percent.

“Lower Saxony has been pursuing a consistent H2 strategy for some time now and is committed to the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier in a wide variety of areas, including mobility. […] Hydrogen-powered fuel cells have a permanent place alongside battery-powered electric vehicles.”

Olaf Lies, Environment Minister of Lower Saxony

Author: Sven Geitmann

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