Plans for the introduction of a hydrogen fueling infrastructure in Ireland are accelerating, and a group representing those interested in using hydrogen as a fuel source projects that there will be 80 hydrogen filling stations by 2030.
Hydrogen Mobility Ireland is made up of industry and government representatives, including but not limited to BOC Gases, Bord Gáis Energy, Toyota Ireland, CIÉ Group, Hyundai Ireland and government departments both north and south of the border. The group wants to test, and then push forward, ideas for introducing hydrogen fuel into vehicles and public transport in Ireland.
The group's initial report has already been published, and one of its members confirmed that it will initially target "captive" fleets, where vehicles can refuel at a supply point.
The great advantage of hydrogen, as a fuel, is its speed and ease of use by the driver. Refueling takes no more time than a conventional gasoline or diesel car, and the useful range of a fuel cell vehicle is practically the same as that of a normal car. Given current battery and charger designs, it's an advantage that hydrogen probably won't yield to electric cars any time soon. There's also the fact that hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and is relatively easily extracted from water. The only emission from a hydrogen-powered vehicle is water vapor, as hydrogen combines with oxygen in the fuel cell, forming water and generating an electrical current.
However, that's a rosy view of hydrogen. While it is true that large operations to extract hydrogen from seawater using solar energy have been planned in the past, most of the commercial hydrogen available today is a by-product of fossil fuel extraction. In addition, compressing it, transporting it and storing it has significant energy consumption problems. Fuel cells themselves also suffer from some of the same problems as batteries, such as the use of rare-earth metals, which must be extracted in expensive and complicated ways.