While the world of mobility is preparing for a new era – with a focus on electric propulsion – a globally unique realization of an initiative that relies on a cross-sector hydrogen eco-cycle has been underway in Switzerland for 2 years. The goal: the decarbonization of heavy transport. The 5 million kilometers driven so far, with more than 4’000 tons of CO2 emissions saved, show how successful this ecosystem is on the road. 20 operators of fuel cell electric trucks – all Hyundai XCIENT Fuel Cell – celebrated this 5 millionth kilometer today. Politicians as well as numerous personalities and people interested in this Swiss hydrogen mobility system met in Olten.
Bell Food, von Bergen, Camion Transport, Coop, Chr. Cavegn, Denner, Emmi, Galliker, G. Leclerc, Havi, McDonald’s, Mewa, Migros, Murpf, Nestlé, Swiss Post, Rivella/Schöni, Schwab-Guillod, SPAR, VOLG and Gebrüder Weiss: the list of brands and companies operating at least one heavy-duty hydrogen-electric commercial vehicle (36-ton trailer trucks) in Switzerland reads like a who’s who of the Swiss retail and logistics industry.
They all met in Olten on October 15 to drive the 5 millionth kilometer together – nota bene with zero emissions. Behind this globally unique achievement are Swiss pioneers who are on the road with a common goal: Contributing to the decarbonization of road transport.
Politicians – among them two members of the Co-Presidency of the Parliamentary Group Hydrogen, Maja Riniker (NC/AG) and Albert Rösti (NC/BE) – met in Olten with the partners and companies of this H2 ecosystem and accompanied the trucks together over this 5 millionth kilometer.
Jörg Ackermann, President of the Association pro H2 mobility Switzerland, says of this pioneering achievement: “Over the past two years and more, we have been on the road with numerous partners and visionaries at the pace of a start-up to prepare this project and also to put it into practice. The 5 million kilometers already driven show that it works. We see this milestone in the history of mobility as the perfect moment and motivation to continue developing the H2 ecosystem. However, the ‘interim result’ also shows Switzerland’s unique starting position. This requires a dissolution of boundaries between industries and individual companies. They have understood that such a mobility system can only be built in a network. Our credo is: ‘It’s happening because we are doing it! All the more reason for me to admire all those involved for their courage and commitment in going down this path.”
The next generation of trucks is ready
The heavy H2 trucks that provided this milestone in mobility were the current models of the Hyundai XCIENT Fuel Cell, the first series-produced heavy commercial vehicle with fuel cell electric drive. However, visitors to the H2 Trucker Meeting in Olten were also able to examine the next generation with a 4×2 and 6×2 truck.
Beat Hirschi, CEO of Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility AG: “Today, 47 heavy trailer trucks together drive more than 10’000 km per day. This is only possible because all the players in this hydrogen ecosystem are standing together with the intention of emitting only water instead of CO2 . For this, I can only thank and pay a big compliment to each and every company and person working on this clean cycle.”
Unique hydrogen ecosystem worldwide – a Swiss pioneering achievement
Behind the five million kilometers and more than 4’000 tons of CO2 emissions saved is an innovative ecosystem that has been built up privately in Switzerland in recent years: by H2 Energy as the system innovator, by Hydrospider AG as the producer and distributor of green hydrogen, by Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility AG as the importer and operator of the hydrogen trucks, and by the Association pro H2 mobility Switzerland. The latter unites 21 well-known Swiss companies, which together with Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility and Hydrospider solved and are solving the chicken-and-egg problem, with today eleven public hydrogen filling stations in Switzerland (AVIA, Coop Pronto, AGROLA and Schwab-Guillod) and 14 leading companies from retail, logistics and transport.
Green hydrogen – a key element of the energy transition
The basis for low-emission electromobility with fuel cell vehicles is green hydrogen, as currently produced in Switzerland by Hydrospider AG at the run-of-river power plant in Niedergösgen. Hydrogen production began at the same time as the first hydrogen electric trucks went into service two years ago. Hydrospider transports the hydrogen by means of high-pressure containers to the current eleven hydrogen filling stations in Switzerland.
Nicolas Crettenand, CEO of Hydrospider AG: “Green hydrogen will play an indispensable role in the energy transition and decarbonization. Hydrogen can replace the fossil fuels that are mainly used today, especially in the area of heavy-duty transport. We are very pleased with these 5 million kilometers, but at the same time they have challenged us. The hydrogen electric trucks drive so much and so reliably that we have to expand production as quickly as possible and thus create the conditions for further growth on the production side.”
The second production facility in Switzerland will be commissioned by SAK (St. Gallisch-Appenzellische Kraftwerke) and Osterwalder St. Gallen (AVIA) before the end of the year. With this plant, an important goal of the eco-cycle is increasingly coming to fruition: the establishment of decentralized production of green hydrogen. This will further reduce the transport distances between production and hydrogen filling stations.
Patrick Huber, VRP of H2 Energy Holding AG: “The Swiss hydrogen ecosystem and this joint achievement of all players is attracting worldwide attention. The concordance achieved with the companies in the H2 Mobility Switzerland support association is unique and a typical Swiss success story. In the European and global context, this model is considered proof that the hydrogen cycle can be implemented in practice. This has an influence that should not be underestimated on the immense investments that are currently being made in Europe and worldwide for the production of green hydrogen and the development of H2 ecosystems. It will now be central to create the right framework conditions to be able to further scale this successful start and to demonstrate that hydrogen technology will make its contribution to the implementation of the energy transition.”
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The Swiss H2 electric mobility system at a glance
Hydrospider, Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HHM), the Association pro H2 mobility Switzerland and H2 Energy are currently establishing zero-emission H2 electromobility in Switzerland. The basis for this is provided by a business ecosystem that unites various players from the energy and mobility sectors in a privately organized system.
The cycle begins with the production, procurement and distribution of green hydrogen by Hydrospider AG. First, production takes place in the production facility at the Alpiq run-of-river power plant in Niedergösgen (SO). The hydrogen is produced in Switzerland using electricity from renewable sources (water, sun, wind) – and is therefore emission-free and climate-friendly. It is green hydrogen that complies with SAE Standard J2719.
The partners in the cross-sector hydrogen ecosystem
- H2 Energy Holding AG, is a business innovator for renewable energies.
H2 Energy comprises experienced entrepreneurs and renowned technology experts. H2 Energy was founded in August 2014 with the goal of stopping climate change and making hydrogen from renewable energy a cornerstone of the energy system. At the beginning of December 2020, Trafigura, a globally leading commodity trader, invested in H2 Energy. https://h2energy.ch/en/
- Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility AG, a joint venture between Hyundai and H2 Energy.
Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility AG is based in Switzerland. It is a partnership between Hyundai Motor Company, Korea and H2 Energy, the Swiss hydrogen pioneer. Its goal is to create a sustainable and environmentally-friendly future by providing emission-free commercial vehicles under a pay-per-use model. https://hyundai-hm.com/en/
- Hydrospider AG, a joint venture between Alpiq, H2 Energy and Linde/PanGas.
Hydrospider safeguards production, procurement and logistics for green hydrogen from CO2-free production. Hydrospider was created in early 2019 from a partnership between the Swiss hydrogen pioneer H2 Energy and Alpiq, a leading Swiss electricity producer and energy service provider. The two companies each hold 45% of the shares in Hydrospider AG. The other 10% are held by the Linde Group of Germany. Linde is one of the world’s leading industrial gas and engineering companies and is active in more than 100 countries. In Switzerland, it operates under the name PanGas. https://hydrospider.ch/en/
- Association H2 Mobility Switzerland.
The H2 Mobility Switzerland Association has set itself the goal of establishing a nationwide network of hydrogen filling stations in Switzerland. In May 2018, Agrola AG, AVIA Vereinigung, Coop, Coop Mineraloel AG, fenaco Genossenschaft, Migrol AG and Migros-Genossenschaftsbund founded the association as a joint platform specifically in order to promote and accelerate the establishment of hydrogen mobility in Switzerland. In addition to the founding members, the following members also belong to the association: Camion Transport AG, Chr. Cavegn AG, Emil Frey Group, Emmi Schweiz AG, F. Murpf AG, Galliker AG, Gebrüder Weiss AG, G. Leclerc Transport AG, Schöni Transport AG, Shell New Fuels, Socar Energy Switzerland, Streck Transport AG, Tamoil SA, Von Bergen SA. https://h2mobilitaet.ch/en/