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Industry leaders agree to evaluate hydrogen infrastructure

Thursday, 17 Sep 2009 ( #428 ) - Berlin, Germany
News Story
The use of fuel cell forklifts is a step closer to reality as leading industrial companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Berlin last week to evaluate the establishment of a hydrogen infrastructure in Germany.

At the MOU signing, Wolfgang Tiefensee, the German minister for transportation, predicted that Germany will be a market leader for modern drive technologies.

"Germany is setting the pace when it comes to hydrogen and fuel cell technology. We aim to establish the nationwide supply of hydrogen in Germany by around 2015 in order to support the serial-production of fuel cell vehicles," Tiefensee said.

The partners of the H2 Mobility initiative are Linde, Daimler, EnBW, OMV, Shell, Total, Vattenfall and NOW GmbH.

The CEO of Linde AG, Wolfgang Reitzle, says: "We see ourselves as pioneers in the field of hydrogen technology and will do everything we can to live up to our aspirations with our accomplishments in the areas of hydrogen production, storage, distribution and fuelling technology."

Udo Bekker, a board member of Vattenfall AG, says that by the end of 2009, Vattenfall will start work in Hamburg on the construction of Europe’s biggest hydrogen filling station. "With [our] climate protection strategy ‘Making Electricity Clean’, [we are] pressing ahead with the expansion of environmentally sound individual mobility. We will be able to supply a low-emission fuel by means of hydrogen produced using power from renewable energy sources."

"The only tailpipe emission from fuel cell vehicles is water vapour," says Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. "That’s good for the environment and for people – and the reason we want to commercialise this technology as soon as possible. But the widespread adoption of fuel cells will only occur when drivers can readily refuel with hydrogen."

Phase One of the MoU involves the evaluation of options for an area-wide roll-out of hydrogen fuelling stations in Germany and the definition of a joint business plan agreement that includes the analysis of possible public support measures.

The initiative aims to install new hydrogen fuelling stations by 2011. This will take place within the framework of the German economic stimulus package and other national and state programs.

In Phase Two, the nationwide roll-out of hydrogen fuelling stations will be continued, supporting the introduction of a series of hydrogen-powered vehicles in Germany around 2015. The implementation of this phase is subject to the satisfactory outcome of the business plan agreement in Phase One.

Stakeholders in the forklift industry have long said that the automobile industry with its larger market will lead the way when it comes to establishing fuel cell vehicles. Crucial to the feasibility of fuel cell vehicles is the set up of hydrogen fuelling stations.

Hydrogen fuelling stations have already been set up in Berlin and Hamburg. Seven of the current 30 fuelling stations are integrated into public gas stations. Germany has a leading position regarding hydrogen infrastructure in Europe.

The Clean Energy Partnership, an international co-operation of leading industrial companies like BMW, Ford, Linde AG, Vattenfall and Daimler, seeking to demonstrate the safe use of hydrogen for road transportation, has a fleet of 40 hydrogen vehicles being tested in Berlin and Hamburg.

Daimler introduced the world’s first fuel cell vehicle in 1994. Since then it has invested over EUR1 billion (USD1.468 billion) into the development of fuel cells. With over 100 test vehicles and over 4.5km of test runs, the automotive manufacturer from Stuttgart has one of the largest fuel cell vehicle fleets of cars and buses worldwide.
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