How GP JOULE solves the chicken-or-egg problem with hydrogen mobility

How GP JOULE solves the chicken-or-egg problem with hydrogen mobility

THE GP JOULE-MAGAZINE NR. 13 / NOVEMBER 2022

The full package for CO2-free transport kilometres from GP JOULE has everything you need for green hydrogen mobility, from fuel and the filling station to the vehicle itself. This means the number of hydrogen vehicles on the streets grows along with the filling station network. This provides certainty for logistics specialists and customers alike at the pump.

The 40-tonne truck rolls along the motorway. You can hear the sound of the tyres on the asphalt and a rumble when it drives over a bump. Small clouds of water vapour spill out of the exhaust – nothing else. Logistics could look just as quiet and clean as this in the near future, because hydrogen trucks are already market- ready. Fuel cell drives enable long ranges. This is why they are considered a key technology for making even the most difficult-to-electrify means of transport – i.e. heavy goods transport, container ships and aircraft – climate- friendly. A hydrogen truck can be fuelled with climate-neutral fuel for hundreds of kilometres in just a few minutes – provided there is a filling station nearby that offers hydrogen from renewable energies.

While charging stations for electric cars are springing up like mushrooms, according to the H2Live portal there are so far fewer than ten hydrogen filling stations for heavy goods vehicles and buses in the whole of Germany – and all of them in the north-west of the country. So far, green hydrogen at 350 bar can only be found at the GP JOULE filling stations in Husum and Niebüll. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that many companies in the transport and logistics sector are taking a wait-andsee approach. At the same time, petrol station operators are waiting for the number of potential customers to increase. Hydrogen mobility is thus struggling with the classic chickenand- egg problem. Yet it is urgently needed to make heavy goods traffic climate- friendly, even on long routes.

GP JOULE HYDROGEN wants to change that, explains Managing Director André Steinau: “We can solve the constant chicken-and-egg dilemma by simply delivering both chicken and egg at the same time.” GP JOULE HYDROGEN decides together with its customers where a hydrogen filling station should be located. Both sides reap the benefit from this – customers receive seamless infrastructure and GP JOULE HYDROGEN reliable basic capacity utilisation for the filling stations. GP JOULE produces the green hydrogen with wind and solar power in the respective region – for example in the Lusatia Energy Park, in the eFarm pilot project in North Friesland or in Bremerhaven.

GP JOULE HYDROGEN decides together with its customers where a hydrogen filling station should be located. Both sides reap the benefit from this – customers receive seamless infrastructure and GP JOULE HYDROGEN reliable basic capacity utilisation for the filling stations. GP JOULE produces the green hydrogen with wind and solar power in the respective region – for example in the Lusatia Energy Park, in the eFarm pilot project in North Friesland or in Bremerhaven.

GP JOULE makes the fuel cell vehicles available to customers in a kind of rental model. Billing is based on kilometres driven. Maintenance and repairs are included. As part of the complete package, GP JOULE also helps with the certification of the drivers that is needed. “The customers still have to drive themselves though,” says Steinau.

5.000 hydrogen trucks have already been contractually secured

GP JOULE has secured a large basket of “eggs” through a framework agreement with the vehicle retrofi tt ing company Clean Logistics. Over the next fi ve years, this company will convert up to 5,000 semi-trailer units for GP JOULE. Th is is based on standard new vehicles on the market, which are delivered to Clean Logistics without a powertrain right from the start. Th eir workshop team fi ts the 40-tonne semi-trailers with a hydrogen drive. Th is not only includes fuel cell s, batt eries and hydrogen tanks, but also speciall y developed axles with wheel hub electric motors. Th e vehicles also get the “HyBoss” control system from Clean Logistics. Th e fi rst 40 “Fyuriant” series hydrogen trucks are to be delivered to GP JOULE as early as the end of 2023 and will be used by customers.

GP JOULE HYDROGEN also intends to offer other large hydrogen vehicles as well as the semi-trailers in the future. Partnerships for this are already in place: Clean Logistics is not only converting trucks, but also buses to fuel cell drives. GP JOULE has agreed to cooperate with CaetanoBus and Toyota as well in the fi eld of hydrogen mobility.

Climate-friendly kitchen transport at nobilia

One of the first customers for climate- neutral transport is the kitchen manufacturer nobilia from Verl near Bielefeld in North Rhine-Westphalia. Around 200 semi-trailers from the company’s own fleet transport the kitchens to their respective destinations. Every year, they transport 3.15 million cubic metres by volume and cover 20.6 million kilometres. This clearly makes an impression in the environmental balance sheet. According to nobilia, around 40 per cent of the company’s CO2 emissions are caused by transporting kitchen components.

This is now set to change step by step. “nobilia’s example shows very well how the complete package behind our CO2- free transport facilitates the entry into hydrogen technology,” explains Steinau. Up to ten fuel cell semi-trailers are to go into service at nobilia as early as 2024, with the number then gradually rising up to 30. A hydrogen filling station is planned very close to the headquarters on the A2 motorway, and others are to be built along selected transport routes. “We are building the filling stations where they will benefit our customers while at the same time being accessible to many other hydrogen vehicles,” says Steinau. Th is also makes it easier for other interested companies to expand their hydrogen vehicle fleets.

Kilometre costs can be calculated over long time periods

The switch to hydrogen mobility may seem expensive at first sight, because it entails considerable investment. The vehicles themselves cost more than comparable diesel models. And if the company has its own workshops, these also need upgrading to be able to maintain and repair the hydrogen vehicles. “We remove the hurdle of this high investment with our pay-per-use off er for emission-free transport,” explains Steinau. Costs per kilometre are similar to those of diesel vehicles, calculated over the years.

However, unlike the price of diesel, the costs of climate-friendly mobility are one thing above all : predictable. The electrolysis plants and the wind and solar parks that supply the green electricity are each located as close as possible to the filling station. Th is is the case with the North Friesian eFarm project and it is also planned for the Lusatia region: GP JOULE HYDROGEN will build a hydrogen filling station there at the Klett witz vehicle service stop, which will draw its hydrogen from the Lusatia Energy Park, just 200 metres away as the crow flies.

In this way, the added value essentiall y remains in the region. Since GP JOULE produces the hydrogen with its own regional green electricity, prices are stable even in the energy crisis. Hydrogen at the two filling stations in North Friesland still costs the same today as it did at the beginning of the year. And GP JOULE can also offer its customers fixed prices for emission- free transport over many years. This is something that was only the thing of dreams for most companies until now.