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Hy-way: a hydrogen roadmap for Irish transport

Tom Lusher
Tom Lusher

The Hydrogen Mobility Ireland consortium, formed to develop and oversee an implementation strategy to introduce the use of hydrogen for mobility in Ireland, published its vision for hydrogen in transport in October.

The report, A Hydrogen Roadmap for Irish Transport, 2020-2030, was compiled by Element Energy following input from industrial, policy and academic stakeholders. The objectives of the project were to:

  • Develop a strategy to introduce hydrogen vehicles and related infrastructure (hydrogen production and refuelling sites) into Ireland between 2019 and 2030.
  • Set out the business case for industry actors to invest in a profitable hydorgen market in Ireland.
  • Understand the policies required for the hydrogen mobility to grow in Ireland.

Service stations

The study includes a range of key findings spanning infrastructure, vehicles, business case and policy.

Infrastructure is naturally a key enabler to hydrogen-powered mobility in Ireland. The report indicates that hydrogen refuelling infrastructure can be delivered by industry with limited government support. At present, there is a business case for industry players to invest in hydrogen transport, assuming that the government can provide some level of grant funding for early projects. This will act to de-risk investment while ensuring that hydrogen presents a positive contribution to Ireland’s implementation of the Renewable Energy Directive II.

The study presents a phased approach to rolling out both hydrogen refulling and production facilities. Our chart this week illustrates this phased rollout. Phase 1, the initial deployment phase, would see 3 filling stations and 2 production sites constructed in and around Dublin. This would be enough to support a fleet of 30 buses, 50 cars and 10 vans, and would cost €34mn. This would also require two state interventions:

  • A capital grant of €14mn to match fund to scheme
  • Inclusion of green hydrogen in the Biofuels Obligation Scheme

Following the completion of the first phase, an expansion stage (phase 2) running to 2030 would be pursued. The objectives would be to ensure basic hydrogen refuelling is available on a national scale with over half of the population having immediate access to infrastructure. This equates to 76 filling stations.

In addition, the most realistic production scenario would see the rollout of 27 electrolysers. These would be co-located with sites of renewable generation. In addition, there would be purchase of hydrogen from an industrial reformer. Combined, this pathway would deliver comparable “well-to-wheel” emission savings to Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) which are charged from the electricity grid every year from 2022 to 2030.

Toll road

To deliver the hydrogen roadmap, and for Ireland to realise the benefits of hydrogen as a major decarbonisation option in the 2030s, actions are needed to support thehydrogen industry. This includes a number of options, of which some are:

  • An investment of €350mn for all aspects of the hydrogen production chain to fulfil the reports strategy by 2030. This covers all costs of fuelling stations, production equipment, compression and distribution trailers.
  • Purchase grant and suitable tax rates for Fuel-Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) to deliver a price-parity with internal combustion engine vehicles and BEVs, which already receive support.
  • Positioning Ireland for hydrogen expansion post-2030.

Flyovers

Despite the technical difficulties of delivering hydrogen mobility in Ireland, it should be noted that hydrogen in the future energy system presents a range of potential benefits.

For vehicles, it offers superior range and refuelling speeds to BEVs. It can also be used to decarbonise heavy transport in a way that battery technology struggles to deliver, due to heavy weights and the compromises made between payload and range.

From an energy perspective, hydrogen can support renewables deployment by acting as a store of energy and a provider of flexibility. Use of hydrogen can also reduce the need for electrification, mitigating grid reinforcement costs.

Local economies may also benefit through domestic production, while reducing the cost of decarbonisation in Ireland.

Overall, there is potential for hydrogen to help meet its climate targets in Ireland, and this strategy may provide momentum to realising benefits in the hydrogen mobility sector.

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