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The future for fuel cell electric vehicles

The world’s need for ways to generate low cost, clean energy has never been so great. At Anglo American we believe that fuel cell technology is one answer to this growing demand.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) are a key part of a low-carbon future, and will play an important role in achieving global carbon reduction targets. Global levels of investment in the technology currently surpass billions of dollars annually and many global automotive manufacturers are developing FCEVs, some of which are already available in the market.

By 2021, most leading automotive manufacturers are expected to have launched at least one FCEV globally, demonstrating real-world application of the technology and increasing demand in the vehicles.

We have worked, in conjunction with Element Energy, to produce an FCEV factsheet to help provide a snapshot of where the industry is and its global progress.

Download the full factsheet here.

Companies leading the way

Many global automotive companies, such as Hyundai [manufacturer of the iX35 pictured in this article], Toyota, Honda, Daimler and BMW, are developing FCEVs, some have started to deploy vehicles in selected regions, and others have signalled their intent to bring hydrogen-fuelled cars to market within the next few years.

Other car companies developing FCEVs include Nissan (working in a collaborative partnership with Daimler and Ford), General Motors (collaborating with Honda), and Volkswagen.

For FCEVs to fulfil their potential as a viable zero emission transport option, networks of hydrogen refuelling stations (HRS) will be required. Such networks are being developed in some countries and regions around the world:

  • UK: UK H2 Mobility – this association is planning for 12 HRS by the end of 2016 and 65 HRS nationally by 2020.
  • Scandinavia: Scandinavian Hydrogen Highway Partnership – this body is encouraging cross-border collaboration, and public and private sector commitment.
  • Germany: H2 Mobility – an existing network of 15 HRS is to be expanded to 100 by 2017, 400 by 2023. Joint venture involving Air Liquide, Daimler, Linde, OMV, Shell and Total.
  • USA: H2 USA – a public-private partnership have adopted deployment plans in several states, including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and California.

Further details of the current status (late 2015) and near-term global plans for hydrogen refuelling station deployment are summarised in the table below:

Country/region Status (late 2015) Plans Strategy
Japan Tens of HRS open. 100 HRS operational by March 2016. Cluster HRS in major population centres and provide strategic stations linking cities.
California Around 20 HRS open. Plans for 50 HRS to be open by the end of 2016, > 100 by 2021. Clusters of HRS in Berkeley, South San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Monica and West LA, Torrance and nearby coastal communities, Irvine and southern Orange County. Most HRS at existing forecourts.
Germany Around 15 HRS open. 50 HRS by 2016, 100 by 2017, 400 by 2023 National coverage from 2015/2016, with most HRS on forecourts.
UK Five publicly accessible stations operational. 12 HRS by the end of 2016, vision for around 65 by 2020. Cluster stations in London / SE England initially, with strategic HRS near major routes.
Denmark Seven HRS open. 11 HRS by the end of 2016, plans for 100+ HRS by 2025.

Worldwide fuel cell industry sales (including non-transport applications) exceeded $1bn for the first time in 2013, and the global hydrogen fuel cell transport market is forecast to grow to $18bn–$97bn per year over the next 10–20 years.

Vehicle manufacturers have invested heavily in developing fuel cell technology to its current state of readiness for market launch and current indications are that investments in the $billions will continue over the coming years.

In fact, Anglo American Platinum has announced that it is investing $4 million to help reduce the delivered costs of hydrogen and support the development of hydrogen refueling stations for FCEVs in the north-east corridor of the United States. The investment in United Hydrogen Group (UHG), a hydrogen production and distribution business in the United States, is aimed at bolstering the demand for platinum.

If you have any queries or would like further information on the topics outlined above please contact

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