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Hydrogen Infrastructure Development
Increasingly stricter emission limits and the finite nature of fossil fuels are driving the development of new alternatives. The goal is to reduce the amount of harmful vehicle emissions and thus make automobiles greener. The past few years have introduced a growing number of traditional electromobiles, but experts claim that this is just a stop on the way to better, more effective technology. Large auto manufacturers see a future in hydrogen.
A hydrogen car is not exactly novel- several brands already began experimenting with this technology in the previous decade. These cars are essentially electromobiles with a different energy storage system. Unlike classic electromobiles, they don’t store energy in lithium-ion accumulators but rather make it out of hydrogen stored in the vehicle’s fuel tank with the help of hydrogen fuel cell technology.
So what’s preventing “hydrogen” from leading the fuel market? The main issues which had to be resolved in the past were production itself, distribution and comprehensive infrastructure. Today, things are on the right track.
You probably haven’t encountered many hydrogen fuel vehicles in Czech Republic yet. One reason is the presence of only one private refueling station. We can expect that to change in the near future. By the year 2023, there could be as many as eight new hydrogen fuel stations in Czech Republic. By 2025 this number should get up to twelve. Even the Ministry of Transportation supports increasing the amount of hydrogen fuel stations and has designated up to 1.2 billion crowns for their development.
The growing number of hydrogen fuel stations in Europe and globally is causing a decrease in construction price. While construction of the first hydrogen station in Germany cost 2.5 billion euros, today a similar station can be built for between 0.8 to 1 million euros. Currently there are more than 30 hydrogen stations on German territory. So far there are around a thousand personal hydrogen cars driving on European roads and dozens of hydrogen buses.
Although hydrogen car sales are much lower than traditional electric cars with accumulator technology, car manufacturers are still investing significant sums into their development. “One reason why international car manufacturers are investing is that they want to have their finger on the trigger” says Kelley Blue Book analytic Jack Nerad. In the event of a sudden change, auto manufacturers want to be prepared. The amount of new hydrogen vehicles could start growing more quickly if auto manufacturers were to collaborate with governments and energy companies.
Unipetrol considers hydrogen to be the fuel of the future and plans to increase both its production and accessibility to the common user. Though today about 90% of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels, there are other options available. For example, we at Unipetrol are researching the production of so-called “green” hydrogen through the electrolysis of water. Hydrogen produced through this process is considered to be the most ecological fuel on the market.
“… We are also working on the preparation of the first hydrogen pump installation. We will begin operating them at our fuel stations in Litvínov, Brno and Prague,“ said Marek Zouvala, general director of Benzina fueling stations.
So what does it mean? The development of functional and comprehensive hydrogen infrastructure offers an inspirational look into the future, where we will be able to continue traveling in our personal vehicles without negatively impacting our planet.