In addition to current vehicle technology, the creation of a network of filling stations is essential for the development of the market for these new vehicles. CVEFs can be refuelled in 3-5 minutes at a hydrogen filling station (HRS), offering similar refuelling times to conventional gasoline or diesel cars.
There are currently a limited number of HRS in each of the partner countries and H2ME will help to expand these networks.
When the hydrogen is in a tank, there is no danger of explosion. Hydrogen is an energy source that is - like any other fuel - flammable in contact with air. Risk assessments show, however, that hydrogen is no more dangerous than gasoline or natural gas, for example. In addition, hydrogen has also been used commercially safely for more than 100 years in large quantities, including in the chemical industry.
The energy content of hydrogen deposits in vehicles is usually lower than in normal petrol or diesel vehicles. The automotive industry has globally agreed a pressure of 700 bar for hydrogen in cars - the pressure of hydrogen storage systems is mechanically controllable. Hydrogen-powered vehicles in demonstration test programs have gone through the entire automotive manufacturers' development cycle, including crash tests, and are released for road use. Vehicles are therefore as safe as conventional vehicles.
The CERs and the associated refuelling infrastructure are currently in a very early stage of market introduction. The current priority is the introduction of vehicles into markets where a strategy exists to support their use with an adequate infrastructure for the supply, distribution and sale of hydrogen fuel.
Inevitably in the early years, this infrastructure will grow slowly as vehicle demand increases. During the introduction phase (i.e., by 2020), the number of stations will remain low but will increase faster than hydrogen demand to ensure adequate coverage of the hydrogen refuelling network, enabling sales of CERs to a wider market. This requires a deployment of 100's of stations per country.
HRS investment costs will remain relatively high in the first few years and, with equivalent low utilisation, station investors need support in the early years to justify the challenge of early investments in stations before vehicles arrive in large numbers. As demand for the stations increases, they can become profitable investments.
A mature (i.e. self-sustaining) market should be reached by 2025, and all that will be needed to sustain this environmentally valuable market is a favourable regulatory regime.