UKH2Mobility interim report finds potential for 1.6M hydrogen-powered vehicles on UK roads by 2030, with annual sales of 300K units
|UK consumer demand for FCEVs increases as the cost premium diminishes and the network of hydrogen refueling stations (HRS) expands. Source: UKH2Mobility. Click to enlarge.
More than 1.5 million hydrogen-powered vehicles could be on UK roads by 2030, according to interim Phase I findings of the UKH2Mobility project, a joint Government-industry to evaluate the potential for hydrogen as a fuel for Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles in the UK before developing an action plan for an anticipated roll-out to consumers in 2014/15. (Earlier post.)
The forecast was made in an interim report commissioned to evaluate the benefits of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and ensure the UK is well positioned for their commercial roll-out. The study provides a roadmap for the introduction of vehicles and hydrogen refueling infrastructure in the UK.
The transition to ultra-low emission vehicles has already begun. It has the potential to create really significant new economic opportunities for the UK, to diversify national energy supply and to decarbonize road transport. The findings released today demonstrate that hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles can make a significant contribution to this.
Successful commercialization of the technology will require Government to work in true partnership with industry. Our international rivals are looking to steal a march in this area and so UKH2Mobility recognizes the importance of prompt action to ensure the potential benefits are realized by businesses and consumers in the UK.
Opportunities for the UK to take a leading role in low carbon technologies will be looked at as part of our auto industrial strategy, published later this year.—Business Minister Michael Fallon
The key findings are:
Consumer. From the quantification of the dependencies between costs, vehicle performance and HRS network development, the project developed a model to predict the rate of vehicle uptake in different circumstances. This model indicates that, once refueling options are available, the initial uptake will be limited by the cost of buying the vehicles. Nevertheless, the analysis identified sufficient early adopters to generate sales of approximately 10,000 per year by 2020.
Up to 10% of new car customers will be receptive to fuel cell vehicles when first introduced, attracted by the newness of the technology and environmental considerations. “Early adopter” interest will need to be fostered and converted into sales to build confidence in and support for FCEVs, as the first models become available in world markets within the next three years.
Vehicles. As the vehicle costs become more competitive and the refueling infrastructure develops, consumer uptake is calculated to increase rapidly. In the UK H2Mobility roadmap, by 2030 there will be 1.6m FCEVs in the UK with annual sales of more than 300,000
Infrastructure. A coordinated network of hydrogen refueling stations will need to be established, focusing at first on national trunk routes and heavily populated areas. An initial roll-out of 65 stations would provide sufficient coverage in line with early vehicle sales, with the network growing in line with the number of FCEVs on the road to provide 1,150 sites by 2030.
Environment. The UK H2Mobility roadmap shows that the total CO2 emissions for an FCEV can be 75% less than the equivalent diesel vehicle in 2030, on a path to zero carbon by 2050. Based on the uptake figures, FCEVs could reduce UK annual total vehicle CO2 emissions by three million tonnes in 2030. Replacing diesel vehicles with FCEVs could also save between £100 million and £200 million (US$158 million and US$315 million) a year in the cost of damage to air quality caused by vehicle emissions by 2050.
Fuel production. While FCEVs produce no harmful tailpipe emissions, some forms of hydrogen production do generate CO2. Using the project fact base, the analysis shows that a mix of hydrogen production methods can deliver hydrogen to the driver at a cost competitive with diesel, yet with 60% lower CO2 emissions in 2020 and 75% lower in 2030.
The hydrogen production mix in the roadmap for 2030 is 51% water electrolysis, 47% steam methane reforming (SMR) and 2% existing capacities—a mix of SMR and readily available by-product hydrogen from other processes. The water electrolysis, using renewable electricity, includes both on-site production at the HRS and centralized production with distribution to the HRS. In 2030, the roadmap shows that the national demand for hydrogen for FCEVs will be 254,000 tonnes p.a.
Water electrolysis capacity offers significant benefits to the electricity sector in assisting the integration of renewable generating capacity and in providing grid-balancing services. These benefits will increase as the proportion of renewable energy in the generating mix increases. The project quantified these benefits and determined that this would have the effect of reducing the cost of hydrogen produced by electrolysis by 20%.
Hydrogen production will be on course for zero emissions by 2050, at which time FCEVs could have a market share of between 30% to 50%.
Investment. A basic initial network of hydrogen refueling stations is required to encourage early adoption of FCEVs and there will inevitably be a lag between the creation of this network and there being sufficient FCEVs on the road to make it financially self-sustaining. Phase 1 of the project estimated the total finance needed to be around £400 million (US$630 million) to 2030. Phase 2 will be focused on both reducing this figure and considering different models for delivering it.
The final report of Phase 1 is due to be published in March. Building on the roadmap developed in Phase 1, the second phase of UK H2Mobility in 2013 will:
Develop a detailed business case and an overarching framework to enable all entities involved to commit to specific actions.
Identify instruments and mechanisms necessary to overcome the barriers to achieving the roadmap. Key points to address are: the commercial model for the construction of the initial network of HRS; options for improving the early consumer proposition; and the means to establish a clear pathway, with controls, to the production of low carbon hydrogen with the right purity for FCEVs.
The motor industry recognizes it is vital for it to develop and deliver new solutions for reducing the environmental impact of the vehicles it produces. Hydrogen fuel cell technology represents a major advance in securing sustainable mobility. As manufacturers reach the point of bringing the first FCEVs to market, it is important that all interested parties work together to ensure their benefits can be appreciated and realized through co-ordinated dialogue between industry partners and government bodies. UKH2Mobility’s Phase 1 findings provide valuable resources and intelligence to help us secure these advantages and we look forward to participating in Phase 2 to further confirm the potential of hydrogen as a low carbon fuel in the UK.—Akihito Tanke, Vice President, Research and Development, Toyota Motor Europe
UKH2Mobility, synopsis of Phase I results