Volvo Group joins Daimler and Shell for mass-market roll-out of hydrogen trucks

Linking up with oil and gas company OMV and truck manufacturer IVECO for new H2Accelerate initiative.
December 17, 2020

According to data from Climate Watch last year, the fastest-growing source of emissions is transport with about 14% of annual emissions. 

And, more concerning, transport emissions are on the rise

As written in the European Commission’s communication to the European Parliament in the hydrogen strategy for a climate-neutral Europe, the chemical element is enjoying a renewed and rapidly growing attention in Europe and around the world. Hydrogen can be used as a feedstock, a fuel, or an energy carrier and storage, and has many possible applications across industry, transport, power, and buildings sectors. Most importantly, it does not emit CO2 and almost no air pollution when used. And as 72% of global transport emissions come from road vehicles and a growing number of governments and businesses align on a common vision of a net-zero emissions energy system, the five H2Accelerate participants believe that hydrogen is an essential fuel for the complete decarbonisation of the truck sector.

Achieving a large-scale roll-out of hydrogen fuelled trucks is also expected to create new industries: zero-carbon hydrogen production facilities, large-scale hydrogen distribution systems, a network of high-capacity refuelling stations for liquid and gaseous hydrogen, and the production of hydrogen-fuelled trucks. The quintet behind the initiative believes that synchronized investments across the sector during the 2020s will create the conditions for the mass market roll-out of hydrogen-fuelled heavy duty transportation which is required to meet the European ambition of net zero emissions by 2050.

The decade long scale-up is expected to begin with groups of customers willing to make an early commitment to hydrogen-based trucking. These fleets are expected to operate in regional clusters and along European high capacity corridors with good refuelling station coverage. During the decade, these clusters can then be interconnected to build a pan-European network.

— Climate change is the challenge of our generation and we are fully committed to the Paris Climate Agreement for decarbonizing road transport. In the future, the world will be powered by a combination of battery-electric and fuel-cell electric vehicles, along with other renewable fuels to some extent. The formation of the H2Accelerate collaboration is an important step in shaping a world we want to live in, says Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO of the Volvo Group.

The initiative is divided into two parts where phase one includes rollout of the first, up to 20 high capacity stations on selective locations and clusters and 100s of trucks. During the second half of 2020s, the aim is to rapidly reach up to 10,000 trucks and a Europe wide coverage of major corridors and high capacity stations. 

Throughout the scale up, the five companies state, support from the public sector will be required. Under H2Accelerate, the participants expect to work together to seek funding for early pre-commercial projects during the first phase of the roll-out. In parallel, the participants will engage with policy makers and regulators to encourage a policy environment which will help support the subsequent scale up into volume manufacturing for hydrogen trucks and a Europe-wide refuelling network for zero carbon hydrogen fuel.

— The prize is clear. By boosting scale in a big way, hydrogen-fuelled trucks will need to become available to customers at or below the cost of owning and operating a diesel truck today. This means truck customers will need to have access to a fully zero-emissions vehicle with a similar refuelling time, range, and cost range compared to the vehicles in use today. To achieve this ambition a clear regulatory framework is needed, including policies addressing the supply of hydrogen, hydrogen-fuelled trucks, refuelling infrastructure, and consumer incentives in a coordinated way, says Elisabeth Brinton, Executive Vice President for New Energies at Shell.

— The participant companies in H2Accelerate agree that hydrogen-powered trucks will be key for enabling CO2-neutral transportation in the future. This unprecedented collaboration is an important milestone for driving forward the right framework conditions for establishing a mass market for hydrogen-based trucking. It is also a call to action for policymakers, further players involved, and society as a whole, says Martin Daum, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler Truck AG (whose fuel-cell concept truck Mercedes-Benz GenH2, presented earlier this fall, is pictured above).