The first public hydrogen refuelling station for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) has been announced today in Canberra, as part of the ACT governments commitment to hydrogen technologies made in the tenders for its 100 per cent renewables program.
The hydrogen fuelling station will at first be piloted by 20 Hyundai Nexo FCEVs that are being purchased by the ACT goverment as part of its commitment to a zero emissions future.
The Nexo order is Australia’s largest contract of its kind and is worth more than $A1 million, but it presents a particular problem: how to fuel the hydrogen-fuelled vehicles.
Fuel cell vehicles may present an attractive alternative to combustion vehicles for some who are married to the idea of charging on the go within only a few minutes, much like petrol and diesel.
But while charging stations for battery electric vehicles are gradually becoming more commonplace, the infrastructure for FCEVs is currently not as available, and is also considerably more expensive to install than EV chargers (BEVs can of course also be charged at home).
The new hydrogen charging station, will be installed under a partnership between ActewAGL and French renewable energy company Neoen, which won a significant share of the ACT’s renewable energy target through its three wind farms at Hornsdale in South Australia.
Neoen in 2016 won the last tender held by the ACT government and as part of that deal committed to $55 million in a partnership with Siemens and Hyundai to establish a 1.25MW hydrogen electrolyser, which converts electricity to hydrogen, and the re-fuelling station.
That station will be located at ActewAGL’s compressed natural gas station in Mildura St, Fyshwick this December, and will be the first publicly available site in Australia.
There, it will be used to recharge the ACT’s 20 Hyundai Nexos, the South Korean carmaker’s second generation FCEV that has an estimated driving range of 800km and has superceded its predecessor the Hyundai ix35 FCEV.
The Nexo has a a 95kW fuel cell stack that supplies energy to its 40kW battery, emitting only water from the tailpipe and delivering 120kW of power to the motor and 394Nm of torque.
The only other FCEV currently available on the Australian market is the Toyota Mirai, which has 550km of range and is currently being trialled in a number of short-loan leases.
Compared to battery electric vehicles which use a number of rare earth materials in their battery cells, hydrogen is considered by some to be a more credible answer to zero emissions transport because of the incredible abundance of hydrogen (it is the universe’s most abundant element).
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.