Grand vision for Ireland’s hydrogen vehicle future revealed by new group

3 Oct 2019405 Views

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While the Government pushes for rapid EV adoption, a new group is aiming to have hydrogen vehicles on Irish roads as another option.

Hydrogen Mobility Ireland (HMI) – a new consortium made up of Government representatives, auto manufacturers, researchers, industry and the ESB – has claimed that hydrogen vehicles could eliminate 300,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually if adopted on Irish roads.

This was one of the findings of a report launched this morning (3 October) by the group, setting out its vision and the requirements needed to make hydrogen vehicles a part of the climate conversation as much as electric vehicles (EVs) have become.

Unlike EVs, which are charged through a cable, hydrogen vehicles are refuelled in a similar way to petrol or diesel cars. However, in this instance, pressurised hydrogen gas is pumped into a tank on board the car, which is combined in a fuel cell with oxygen to power an electric motor. The resulting waste product emitted from the back of the car is just water vapour, unlike internal combustion engine vehicles (ICE).

How much it will cost

The group calls on the Government to follow the lead of countries such as China, the US and Japan, which have each committed to having approximately 1m fuel cell vehicles on the road by 2030.

It went on to say that while limited in number today, hydrogen vehicles will be cost-competitive with ICE vehicles by the middle of the next decade. If the group’s target is achieved, Ireland would have two hydrogen production sources and three refuelling stations rolled out in a first deployment.

This could be done for a cost of €34m, with the State needing to contribute €14m. If investment continued up until 2030, a network of 76 stations across the island of Ireland would ensure 50pc of people would live in a town with a hydrogen refuelling station. Additionally, a network of 27 electrolysers combined with renewable sources of electricity – particularly wind farms – would supply the hydrogen fuel.

First facility

HMI believes in an ideal scenario, there would be a national hydrogen-powered fleet of 2,000 HGVs, 880 bus and coaches, 6,800 vans and 29,000 cars by 2030. Already, the Government has stated that it wants to have close to 1m EVs on Irish roads by this same deadline.

Waste management company Indaver – which is a member of the interest group – said it is already planning on initiating hydrogen fuel production through its waste-to-energy plant in Co Meath.

HMI’s chair and corporate affairs director of Toyota Ireland, Mark Teevan, said at the launch: “The challenge is to get started since not only is a new infrastructure needed but also the production of a new fuel.

“With HMI, we have started the process of coordinating industry’s response to this challenge whilst also planning to align with academic and policy thinking.”

Speaking as a member of the Hydrogen Ireland Association, Dublin City University’s Dr James Carton added: “We see hydrogen playing a role in achieving Ireland’s climate targets in transport, heating, energy and storage. Our aim is to connect hydrogen with all sectors of energy and society, creating a new clean, zero-emission economy.”

Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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