Just four weeks from now, and key stakeholders in the hydrogen business will be gathered together under the same roof at the Beurs Van Berlage hotel in Amsterdam to discuss the evolution – and future needs – of the hydrogen economy.
As I wrote several weeks ago now, big names in industry clearly believe in this now – they are backing up the rhetoric, they are investing. There exists a credence, a gravitas.
This is increasingly evident in the automotive business, where the likes of BMW, Toyota, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Audi and many more are almost queuing up to reveal their desire to drive hydrogen forward as a future fuel.
This roll-call of transport esteem does not stop there either. Commercial transport heavyweights such as Scania and Volvo are known to be in the midst of varying stages of exploration into sustainable, alternative heavy-duty transport solutions. These are just two examples; there are many more, such is the progress being made in the Hydrogen Economy.
At our own Clean Energies Conference this April, where we will devote the entire Day 1 of event to the re-defining of the Hydrogen Economy, we have seen two of the biggest names in the automotive arena keen to join in the debate.
Four weeks from now and both BMW Group and Hyundai Motor Europe will be on the gasworld stage to discuss and debate the progress made in their field, and what will be required to take this even further forward in the future.
Because that’s where we’re at now – there is a common desire, a common goal, to drive forward hydrogen as a future fuel. Not just hydrogen either; this is not about competing technologies. There is and should be a recognition that hydrogen, electric and perhaps even other alternative fuels should be all part of a broad and diversified energy mix to truly guarantee sustainability and security of supply.
I’ve found it interesting to watch this unfold over the last decade or so. Around 10 years ago, the Hydrogen Economy was a shiny, new concept and full of undoubted intent. In the years that have followed, and particularly in the last half-decade, that intent has been backed up with breakthroughs and deliverables. Just look at the extent of hydrogen fuelling networks that are building out across Europe, Japan, and the US West Coast for example – and the fuelling stations that are still to come.
And look at the proliferating numbers of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road today. A recent report from Information Trends titled ‘Global Market for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles, 2018’ stated that by year-end 2017, a total of 6,475 of these vehicles have been sold globally since 2013 when the vehicles first became available commercially.
Moreover, hydrogen fuel cell vehicle sales in 2017 were more than double the total sales in the previous years. By 2021, it claims, at least 11 automakers will have rolled out hydrogen fuel cell vehicles – including Toyota, Lexus, Hyundai, Kia, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Other entrants in this space include Tata Motors, Pininfarina S.p.A. (owned by Mahindra & Mahindra) Riversimple, and the RONN Motor Group.
Whether the accuracy of such reports is disputed or not, the overall trajectory is not. It is clear that the infrastructure is building, and so is the momentum. There’s a long road ahead, but at least it’s a clean and green one.
For now, all roads lead to progressive discussion and debate in Amsterdam. See you there.