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European HyWays Project Lowers Estimates of Initial Fuel Cell Vehicle Penetration

An interim report from the European HyWays project suggests that the initial 5% target for hydrogen vehicle penetration by 2020 in European markets is too optimistic, with 3.3% of the passenger car market by 2020 being the likely outcome of a “high penetration” scenario, and only 0.7% the likely outcome in a “low-penetration” scenario.

The HyWays project, co-funded by research institutes, industry and by the European Commission (EC) under the 6th Framework Program, is tasked with providing a roadmap for the development of hydrogen in the European Union.

The project has released an interim report, Assumptions, visions and robust conclusions from project Phase I, marking the completion of 18 month Phase 1 of the project, which specifically analyzed France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, and Norway. Phase 2 will analyze Finland, Poland, Spain, and United Kingdom over the coming 18 months.

An earlier start for mass production than 2013 is hard to argue not only based on technical facts but also concerning the incomplete legal framework. A decision on mass production of hydrogen vehicles is awaiting the formal ECE type approval for hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles

—HyWays report

The report also concludes that until 2030, hydrogen production from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage (CCS) will be the dominant mode of production in Europe, with renewable hydrogen slowly being phased in.

This is explained by the maturity of fossil fuel based technologies, assumptions on the availability of feedstocks and consequently the cost of hydrogen produced, as well as uncertainty about allocation of renewables to different energy sectors. At the same time, the baseline sees a drive towards low-carbon fuels, or carbon capture technologies, due to the strong carbon policy assumed.

The report also concluded that:

  • The market introduction of Fuel Cell Vehicles hinges to a large extent on the successes in educing the costs of the hydrogen drive train system. To a lesser extent, the price of hydrogen production and handling, the crude oil price, and the internalization of CO2 emissions will determine the penetration of hydrogen in the energy system.

  • There is still a large uncertainty with respect to the pace with which hydrogen can enter the market, as well as in the total investments required to bring hydrogen technologies to the market.

HyWays Scenarios for Development of H2 FCVs
share in vehicle stock
Total share of fleet 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050
* Demonstration vehicles and fleets only
High penetration –* 3.3% 23.7% 54.4% 74.5%
Low penetration –* 0.7% 7.6% 22.6% 40.0%



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