• Apr 4, 2014
"High five!" was one of the catch-phrases of Sacha Baron Cohen's Kazakh comedic alter ego Borat. A real-world HyFive is being announced by a power broker named Boris. And this is serious business.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced a program called HyFive, which will see automakers and other entities invest 31 million British pounds ($51 million US) in a demonstration project for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. By next year, London will have three hydrogen refueling stations, while there will be one each in the Danish cities of Aarhus and Odense and one in Innsbruck, Austria. Leaders of the program are planning for other stations in Sweden, Germany and Italy.

The five participating automakers are BMW, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota, while other companies involved include Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, ITM Power and Linde. Those OEMs will make 110 fuel-cell vehicles available for deployment in Bolzano, Copenhagen, Innsbruck, London, Munich and Stuttgart.

The program represents an effort to address the "chicken or egg?" challenge inherent to establishing a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market. While the powertrain technology provides benefits by combining fossil-fuel-like refueling times with long driving ranges and zero emissions, establishing a refueling network and building fuel-cell vehicles is prohibitively expensive, especially in low volumes.

The London mayor is no stranger to green transportation technology. Late last year, Johnson made himself available for a photo opportunity with Ecotive and Frazer-Nash, which had developed a six-passenger extended-range plug-in taxicab. The mayor got a test drive in the cabs this week. You can check out the HyFive press release below.
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Global leaders sign up to £31m plan to demonstrate viability of hydrogen vehicles

International project HyFive pioneers hydrogen fuel cell technology

A pioneering £31 million deal will be struck today (3 April) to make hydrogen vehicles a viable and environmentally friendly choice for motorists across Europe.

Leading motor manufacturers, hydrogen fuel suppliers, the Mayor of London's Office and energy consultancies from around the globe are signing up to the HyFive project, the largest of its kind in Europe, at City Hall in London today. Five different manufacturers have agreed to deploy a total of 110 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles at several European locations (Bolzano, Copenhagen, Innsbruck, London, Munich, Stuttgart) and develop new clusters of hydrogen refuelling stations.

Locations are being sought for three new hydrogen refuelling stations in London, one in Aarhus and in Odense (Denmark) and one in Innsbruck (Austria). They are expected to be operational by 2015, by which time some of the manufacturers in the partnership will have started to put hydrogen fuelled cars on sale in some European markets. Using hydrogen gas as a fuel to generate electric power the revolutionary vehicles produce no harmful tailpipe emissions – only water vapour. They have the potential to be more than twice as fuel-efficient as conventionally powered vehicles and operate very quietly.

The Mayor of London's Office is coordinating the multi million pound project, which has been signed up to by BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and hydrogen fuel companies including Air Products, Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, ITM Power, Linde, OMV. Other signatories include Element Energy, PE INTERNATIONAL, the Institute for Innovative Technology and the European Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.

The motor manufacturers who are part of this project are working on developing and demonstrating hydrogen powered fuel cell cars. The prospect of these becoming more widely available is now seen as increasingly likely as the currently high cost of the technology falls and hydrogen powered vehicles become affordable. Supporters of the new technology point to the rapid re-fuelling times for hydrogen cars and their potential to cover over four hundred miles before needing to be re-fuelled. They also believe that fuel cells will have the ability to be scaled up to run larger vehicles such as buses or trucks.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "To sell this technology we need to show Londoners and the wider world that it is not science fiction. By building the vehicles and the filling stations and allowing people to kick the tyres we will be able to demonstrate that hydrogen is a viable option and that London is at the forefront of efforts to make it so."

Hydrogen infrastructure will be built across several countries as part of this European project. Filling stations will be built and operated in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria and Italy, as well as in London. An advantage for the new technology is that these stations will share internationally agreed fuel and re-fuelling standards. All of the partners in the project see the initial investment to build small clusters of stations as key to gaining the research knowledge that will demonstrate the viability of hydrogen fuelled vehicles.

Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London for Business and Enterprise, said: "This technology was invented in the UK and London already has a massive research base around hydrogen and alternative fuels. When you also consider that we already export thousands of vehicles from the UK that adds up to a big opportunity for many new jobs working in cutting edge new technologies. We are doing everything we can to ensure London is ready when the very first commercially available hydrogen vehicles begin to come to the market in 2015. We are also extremely appreciative of the FCH JU's commitment and support to the HyFIVE project, and our long term plans for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen technology to be a core component of our secure, affordable and low-carbon energy supply system in London".

Bert De Colvenaer, Executive Director of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, said: "With a total of 110 FCEVs and 6 new refuelling stations, HyFIVE will represent the largest single project of its kind financed by the FCH JU. The high level of technology readiness of this zero emission transport technology will be showcased in 5 European Member States, thus ensuring a broad geographical outreach. In addition, the project will also contribute to the buildup of the first networks at local levels necessary to support the market introduction of the vehicles in the coming years. With the participation of leading automakers and infrastructure providers, HyFIVE illustrates the commitment from leading industrial players in the EU and the spirit of cooperation that I am convinced will enable the success of these technologies."

Byung Kwon Rhim, President of Hyundai Motor Europe, said "The 15 partners of the HyFIVE project will work together to advance the awareness, understanding, viability and uptake of zero-emission hydrogen-powered vehicles, like the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell. The collective mid-term goal is to grow a pan-European refuelling network and ensure more vehicles are seen on the road."

Prof Roger Putman CBE, Non-Executive Chairman, of clean hydrogen fuel supplier ITM Power Plc, said "ITM Power is delighted to be part of this exciting pan-European project, delivering three new green hydrogen refuelling stations which will be deployed in London. These three new stations will form part of three European regions deploying six new 700bar hydrogen refuelling stations and incorporating 12 existing stations in the project. The fuelling station networks will offer hydrogen as a genuine fuelling choice for end users. Working with other partners in the project, Air Products, Linde, OMV and the Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, will stimulate the network density required for full commercial roll-out of hydrogen refuelling and FCEVs."


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  • 16 Comments
      Joeviocoe
      • 8 Months Ago
      Dave, nobody accused the scientific validity of solar to hydrogen. So your comment about the chemists is irrelevant. We are talking ECONOMIC feasibility. Hence all the comments about how many other types of renewable infrastructure could be built with the same money.
      Ryan
      • 8 Months Ago
      They should have spent the money buying 100 Tesla's, 1000 Leafs, and 1000 Ampteras. Then installed quite a few charging/Supercharging stations and solar/wind to power them. Then make it a lottery with Euro100 or E200 tickets to win one of those cars. Let people who already have installed solar panels compete for a few of them to get better odds at winning. That would do 100x more good than the H2 dream.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 8 Months Ago
      That's what, 10 fueling stations?
      Dave
      • 8 Months Ago
      A pittance.
      goodoldgorr
      • 8 Months Ago
      At least they started the infrastructure before the rollout contrary to tesla that installed innsuficiant quantity of superchargers after the rollout of cars. Also this infrastructure can be multiplied by 10 to 20 for cheap because one electrolyzer or nat gas reformer can be connected to another hydrogen pump nearby, so if you open an hydrogen station then you can install just some cheap simple piping to an another set of station nearby. This will push the price of the infrastructure down and push the profits up.
      Ryan
      • 8 Months Ago
      They should have spent the money buying 100 Tesla's, 1000 Leafs, and 1000 Ampteras. Then installed quite a few charging/Supercharging stations and solar/wind to power them. Then make it a lottery with Euro100 or E200 tickets to win one of those cars. Let people who already have installed solar panels compete for a few of them to get better odds at winning. That would do 100x more good than the H2 dream.
        DaveMart
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        So solar to hydrogen is not going to work then? For instance: http://fuelcellsworks.com/news/2014/04/01/pecdemo-sunlight-to-hydrogen/ Please share your detailed analysis of what all those chemists are missing.
          DaveMart
          • 8 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          I've got non idea what the cryptic comment 'opportunity costs of energy' means as a critique, unless it is a fancy way of claiming that hydrogen production will cost too much. This hardly amounts to a rational critique, as no details are given as to why that should be the case, and funnily enough the scientists involved are well aware that cost is important and are focussing on processes using cheap materials and so on. Is any one advanced idea of solar to hydrogen speculative? Of course. But no more so than, for instance, lithium air batteries at high energy density, which some seem to imagine a certainty when they aren't.
          Ryan
          • 8 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          It's not that it doesn't work. It is that it isn't nearly as practical as the alternatives. There is an economic benefit to using energy you can produce yourself in a car. It doesn't matter very much if you put gasoline into a car or hydrogen, the same oil cartels...I mean 'energy companies' will be raking it in. E85 or E100 would be more practical, and that isn't saying much. And when electric car battery makers now have Tesla to keep up with, I don't see it being very long before 200 mile batteries and 1 hour recharge times become normal. And there are a lot of slow level 2 chargers already if you need a little extra power to get back home where you can 'refill' it for pennies on the dollar compared to hydrogen. If Hydrogen was smart, they would build a electric car with a hydrogen range extender fuel cell. That way they can put the hydrogen stations outside of the cities, and people can drive on the highway on hydrogen, but use the big battery for daily use and around town.
      Actionable Mango
      • 8 Months Ago
      That's some article about some people who set some goal that might pan out years from now, if they are successful. How many times have we read press releases like this that never went anywhere? BTW - I'm not picking on hydrogen. I see the same thing over and over in every industry. For example, I'm still waiting for paintable solar cells that were supposed to eliminate installation costs because you could just apply it with a roller on your roof. Also waiting for inkjet-printable solar cells, which were supposed to enable simplified mass production, and bring costs down to practically nothing. Both were working in the lab at the time of the announcements years ago, and both were supposed to be just around the corner. Still waiting.
      Spec
      • 8 Months Ago
      HyFive? Really? I want a picture of big fat Boris Johnson jumping up doing a spastic high-five.
      goodoldgorr
      • 8 Months Ago
      At least they started the infrastructure before the rollout contrary to tesla that installed innsuficiant quantity of superchargers after the rollout of cars. Also this infrastructure can be multiplied by 10 to 20 for cheap because one electrolyzer or nat gas reformer can be connected to another hydrogen pump nearby, so if you open an hydrogen station then you can install just some cheap simple piping to an another set of station nearby. This will push the price of the infrastructure down and push the profits up.
        Ryan
        • 8 Months Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        People mostly charge their electric cars at home. Not so easy to do with hydrogen right now.
          Spec
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Ryan
          I don't think I'd EVER want my neighbor fueling up with high-pressure hydrogen in his home. No way.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 8 Months Ago
      Just costs 3 times as much as what natural gas derived hydrogen would cost. Nobody's gonna balk at $9/kg for hydrogen. You bought a $50-$100k car, what's taking it in the wallet for another 2-3x markup on the fuel for it?
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