A new hydrogen (H2) filling station in Karlsruhe, Germany, adds further impetus to the building of an infrastructure for eco-friendly electric mobility using H2 and fuel cell technology.

The TOTAL filling station on Karlsruhe’s Südtangente ring-road was commissioned on Wednesday in the presence of Norbert Barthle, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. The Ministry supported the construction of the H2 facility with around €970,000 ($1,154,620) under its National Innovation Program for H2 and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP).

This H2 filling station – the eleventh in the TOTAL network and the tenth in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg – is distinguished by an innovative energy concept: H2 is produced on-site through electrolysis, using the electricity generated by a solar array. This is one example for how renewable energy can be used in transport.

In the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP), the public and private sectors jointly laid the cornerstone for building a network of filling stations in Germany. Daimler is the investor behind the facility in Karlsruhe; the refuelling technology comes from Linde. The station will be operated by H2 MOBILITY, a new joint venture formed by the industry partners Daimler, Air Liquide, Linde, Shell, OMV and TOTAL in order to expand the nationwide hydrogen network to as many as 400 stations by 2023.

Norbert Barthle, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure, said, “Our support for the ramp-up of alternative drives is technology-agnostic. We want to be at the forefront of shaping the development. In this process, fuel cells are a key technology in turning the tide towards electromobility. Fewer emissions, quick refuelling, and a long range are the future of electric mobility. Each new H2 filling station takes us one step further in building a nationwide charging infrastructure. This helps us bring more clean vehicles onto our roads and ensure more mobility with fewer emissions.”

Bruno Daude-Lagrave, Managing Director of TOTAL Deutschland GmbH, echoed, “Especially now, just before the International Automobile Exhibition, it is important for us to send a signal for H2 mobility with this service station. Fuel-cell vehicles are environmentally friendly, with long travel ranges and short refuelling times. By using the electricity from a solar array to produce hydrogen, we show how tomorrow’s climate-neutral mobility can work.”

Germany-map

TOTAL has been involved in developing the H2 infrastructure in Germany for 15 years. Other H2 projects at TOTAL are under construction or in planning in Cologne, Ingolstadt, Hamburg, Leipzig, Potsdam, Neuruppin and Hasbergen.

Christian Mohrdieck, Director of Fuel Cell at Daimler AG, added, “A rapid expansion of the H2 filling station network is especially important to us. The number of H2 petrol stations in Germany will increase rapidly, not least as a result of our H2 MOBILITY joint venture’s concrete development plans, and the everyday mobility of hydrogen mobility will continue to rise.”

H2 MOBILITY is planning to commission further hydrogen filling stations in the months ahead and recently issued a call for proposals for additional filling-station locations: several stations are to be built in regions with the largest potential hydrogen sales for fuel-cell cars (700 bar).

Nikolas Iwan, Managing Director of H2 MOBILITY GmbH & Co. KG, said, “H2 MOBILITY has been tasked with building and operating a H2 infrastructure across Germany. This is unique. Nowhere in the world is there a comparable business initiative that solves the chicken-and-egg problem so sustainably. By the end of 2018, 100 H2 stations will ensure a basic supply. If the introduction of H2 as a fuel is successful and the number of fuel-cell cars continues to grow, we will expand the network to as many as 400 H2 stations by 2023.”

Markus Bachmeier, Head of H2 Solutions at Linde, added, “This is an exciting time for H2 mobility, as both the infrastructure and the range of vehicles are growing by leaps and bounds. Linde will continue to advance the entire spectrum of clean H2 technology – from production to application.”

‘Green H2’ from electrolysis powered by solar energy

This H2 filling station marks the first time that a steam electrolysis plant in flexible operation is used for the production of H2. It is funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg’s BWPLUS program and administered by the European Institute for Energy Research (EIFER). Steam electrolysers are excellent for converting electrical energy into chemical energy. Due to their high operating temperatures of up to 850°C and the possibility of supplying the required energy in the form of heat, significantly higher electrical efficiencies can be achieved than with low-temperature electrolysers.