Hydrogen Alliance launched to foster fuel cell drives

January 18, 2017 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
A group of thirteen global auto makers and other companies has joined forces to advance the development hydrogen fuel cells and position them as a key technology for the energy transition. The members of the group currently invest an amount of some €1.4 billion annually into the development of the technology. In this context, BMW announced plans to make hydrogen vehicles available by 2021.

The “Hydrogen Council”, as the group baptized itself, disclosed its plans at the ongoing international economy forum in Davos (Switzerland). Members of the council are automotive OEMs BMW, Daimler Honda, Hyundai and Toyota, motorcycle and industrial goods vendor Kawasaki, and multinational industrial giants Air Liquide, Alstom, AngloAmerican, Engie, Linde Group Royal Dutch Shell and Total. The group said it regards hydrogen as a “versatile, clean and safe energy carrier”. It can be produced from renewable electricity as well as from carbonated fossil fuel and produces zero emissions (besides pure water) at the point of use. Other advantages: Hydrogen can be transported at high energy density in liquid and gaseous form. The most relevant aspect for transportation and automotive applications however is that it can be used in fuel cells to generate heat and electricity. These properties “confer to hydrogen a key enabling role in transport” and other sectors, the group explained in a press release.

 

For automotive applications, hydrogen is converted into electricity in a fuel cell. The electricity is then used to drive the car. In comparison to batteries, fuel cell vehicles offer higher driving range. In addition, refueling can be accomplished in a timespan similar to conventional vehicles whereas recharging batteries typically takes much longer.

 

“The 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change is a significant step in the right direction but requires business action to be taken to make such a pledge a reality”, explained Air Liquide CEO Benoît Potier. “The Hydrogen Council brings together some of the world’s leading industrial, automotive and energy companies with a clear ambition to explain why hydrogen emerges among the key solutions for the energy transition, in the mobility as well as in the power, industrial and residential sectors, and therefore requires the development of new strategies at a scale to support this. But we cannot do it alone. We need governments to back hydrogen with actions of their