More than a hundred TotalEnergies hydrogen stations for trucks will appear along major highways in France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg in the next few years. French companies TotalEnergies and Air Liquide are creating a joint venture for this purpose.
According to specialists, there are currently 250 hydrogen stations in Europe. By 2030, the network should consist of 1 000 to 1 500 hydrogen filling stations, or a hydrogen fueling station every 200 km on major roads.
50/50 joint venture
Energy group TotalEnergies and chemical company Air Liquide say they are pooling their knowledge to make hydrogen more accessible and contribute to making European road transport more sustainable. For passenger cars, a rechargeable battery is the best solution for cleaner road transport, but for longer-distance heavy transport, hydrogen may be more suitable.
Battery electric trucks (BET) are expected to outperform classic diesel trucks with an internal combustion engine (ICE) from 2025 onward in the total cost of ownership (TCO). Especially as most trucks in Europe cover, on average, no more than 300 km a day.
Fuel cell trucks (FCT) are to reach that break-even point in 2030, while the cost advantage for the battery-electric truck will be 26 to 34%, a study published in October 2022 by PwC states. But fuel cell trucks are seen as the best option to cover larger distances with heavy loads.
Under TotalEnergies brand name
Investments will be borne by the 50/50 joint venture, as well as the construction and operation of the hydrogen stations. The joint venture will also be responsible for purchasing and distributing hydrogen.
TotalEnergies already operates hundreds of classic fuel stations in Europe, and it is planned that the new hydrogen stations will operate under the same brand name.
Europe still has few hydrogen stations, and the two companies hope to become major players with their cooperation. Refueling hydrogen takes about as long as refueling gasoline or diesel, unlike charging electric cars and trucks. In Belgium, a dozen hydrogen stations for trucks are planned by 2030. The first of the new joint venture will normally be in the Limburg town of Ham.
The EU has pledged to become climate neutral by 2050 at the latest. To achieve this goal, the transport sector must adapt, in line with the European Green Deal (of which hydrogen is one of the spearheads) and the Paris Agreement: CO2 emissions in this sector must be reduced by 90%.
Limits were set for trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles in June 2019. Manufacturers will be required to reduce CO2 emissions from new trucks by an average of 15% by 2025, and 30% by 2030.
To achieve this goal, there also must be enough recharging stations and alternative fuel refueling points in the EU. The Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) – part of the Fit for 55 package – sets concrete targets for deploying such infrastructure in the EU, ensuring there is sufficient public charging infrastructure to follow the deployment of zero-emissions or less polluting road vehicles.
Transport is responsible for almost 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. There are around 7 million trucks operating in the EU, and around 70% of EU freight is transported by road.
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