In view of the irresistible electric-car trend, the European Union has planned to introduce 180 hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) to three European cities, for testing their performance and the efficiency of hydrogen-filling stations, in preparation for setting up a hydrogen-fuel network in Europe.
Hydrogen vehicle has been touted as one of the most promising next-generation electric-car technologies, as it can convert chemical energy into electric energy, without discharging massive exhaust gas, such as nitric oxide, soot, or sulfur oxide, claiming that what it discharges is only "pure water."
Hydrogen vehicle now boasts cruising range of over 480 kilometers, which Japan hopes to raise to over 1,000 kilometers by 2040, in addition to mere two to five minutes for filling hydrogen fuel, a far cry from 20-30 minutes of recharging time for lithium-ion battery electric cars. Its popularity, though, has been hampered by difficulty for transporting hydrogen and high cost for constructing hydrogen-filling stations, main reason for its low usage now.
To speed up its popularity, the EU has decided to invest 26 million euros in launching ZEFER (Zero Emission Fleet Vehicles for European Roll-Out) program, under which 180 hydrogen cars will be introduced to Brussels, London, and Paris by the end of 2018, including 170 taxis and private-hire cars and 10 police cars, each with hydrogen-fuel demand quadrupling that of common hydrogen cars, which can boost utilization rates of urban hydrogen-filling stations.
It is expected that the hydrogen cars will travel 90,000 kilometers in Paris and Brussels each and 40,000 kilometers in London every year, quickly boosting the accumulated mileage of such cars in Europe.
Massive test driving of hydrogen cars and utilization of hydrogen-filling stations will generate vast amount of various statistics for analysis, facilitating setup of hydrogen-car network, which can be duplicated throughout Europe in the future.
In recent years, various European countries have been expanding deployment in hydrogen car systems, such as provision of 8.8 million pound subsidy by the U.K. Department for Transport (DfT) for a joint venture set up by ITM Power, Shell, Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai in March 2018 in expanding network of hydrogen-filling stations in the nation.
Scandinavian nations and Germany are also investing heavily in pushing hydrogen cars and Denmark has recently purchased three hydrogen fuel electric buses, at 6 million Danish Krone (DKK) (NT$28.91 million) each, on top of planning to build Europe's largest hydrogen production plant featuring cutting-edge technology in Hobro City.
Strictly speaking, hydrogen employed by hydrogen cars cannot be characterized as renewable energy now, as it is mostly produced with fossil fuel. Consequently, many scientists are studying how to produce hydrogen with renewable energy, such as electrolysis of water with sunshine for producing hydrogen. (written by Daisy Chuang)