While the world of mobility is preparing for a new era – with a focus on electric propulsion – a globally unique realization of an initiative that relies on a cross-sector hydrogen eco-cycle has been underway in Switzerland for 2 years. The goal: the decarbonization of heavy transport. The 5 million kilometers driven so far, with more than 4’000 tons of CO2 emissions saved, show how successful this ecosystem is on the road. 20 operators of fuel cell electric trucks – all Hyundai XCIENT Fuel Cell – celebrated this 5 millionth kilometer today. Politicians as well as numerous personalities and people interested in this Swiss hydrogen mobility system met in Olten.
Bell Food, von Bergen, Camion Transport, Coop, Chr. Cavegn, Denner, Emmi, Galliker, G. Leclerc, Havi, McDonald’s, Mewa, Migros, Murpf, Nestlé, Swiss Post, Rivella/Schöni, Schwab-Guillod, SPAR, VOLG and Gebrüder Weiss: the list of brands and companies operating at least one heavy-duty hydrogen-electric commercial vehicle (36-ton trailer trucks) in Switzerland reads like a who’s who of the Swiss retail and logistics industry.
They all met in Olten on October 15 to drive the 5 millionth kilometer together – nota bene with zero emissions. Behind this globally unique achievement are Swiss pioneers who are on the road with a common goal: Contributing to the decarbonization of road transport.
Politicians – among them two members of the Co-Presidency of the Parliamentary Group Hydrogen, Maja Riniker (NC/AG) and Albert Rösti (NC/BE) – met in Olten with the partners and companies of this H2 ecosystem and accompanied the trucks together over this 5 millionth kilometer.
Jörg Ackermann, President of the Association pro H2 mobility Switzerland, says of this pioneering achievement: “Over the past two years and more, we have been on the road with numerous partners and visionaries at the pace of a start-up to prepare this project and also to put it into practice. The 5 million kilometers already driven show that it works. We see this milestone in the history of mobility as the perfect moment and motivation to continue developing the H2 ecosystem. However, the ‘interim result’ also shows Switzerland’s unique starting position. This requires a dissolution of boundaries between industries and individual companies. They have understood that such a mobility system can only be built in a network. Our credo is: ‘It’s happening because we are doing it! All the more reason for me to admire all those involved for their courage and commitment in going down this path.”
The next generation of trucks is ready
The heavy H2 trucks that provided this milestone in mobility were the current models of the Hyundai XCIENT Fuel Cell, the first series-produced heavy commercial vehicle with fuel cell electric drive. However, visitors to the H2 Trucker Meeting in Olten were also able to examine the next generation with a 4×2 and 6×2 truck.
Beat Hirschi, CEO of Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility AG: “Today, 47 heavy trailer trucks together drive more than 10’000 km per day. This is only possible because all the players in this hydrogen ecosystem are standing together with the intention of emitting only water instead of CO2 . For this, I can only thank and pay a big compliment to each and every company and person working on this clean cycle.”
Unique hydrogen ecosystem worldwide – a Swiss pioneering achievement
Behind the five million kilometers and more than 4’000 tons of CO2 emissions saved is an innovative ecosystem that has been built up privately in Switzerland in recent years: by H2 Energy as the system innovator, by Hydrospider AG as the producer and distributor of green hydrogen, by Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility AG as the importer and operator of the hydrogen trucks, and by the Association pro H2 mobility Switzerland. The latter unites 21 well-known Swiss companies, which together with Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility and Hydrospider solved and are solving the chicken-and-egg problem, with today eleven public hydrogen filling stations in Switzerland (AVIA, Coop Pronto, AGROLA and Schwab-Guillod) and 14 leading companies from retail, logistics and transport.
Green hydrogen – a key element of the energy transition
The basis for low-emission electromobility with fuel cell vehicles is green hydrogen, as currently produced in Switzerland by Hydrospider AG at the run-of-river power plant in Niedergösgen. Hydrogen production began at the same time as the first hydrogen electric trucks went into service two years ago. Hydrospider transports the hydrogen by means of high-pressure containers to the current eleven hydrogen filling stations in Switzerland.
Nicolas Crettenand, CEO of Hydrospider AG: “Green hydrogen will play an indispensable role in the energy transition and decarbonization. Hydrogen can replace the fossil fuels that are mainly used today, especially in the area of heavy-duty transport. We are very pleased with these 5 million kilometers, but at the same time they have challenged us. The hydrogen electric trucks drive so much and so reliably that we have to expand production as quickly as possible and thus create the conditions for further growth on the production side.”
The second production facility in Switzerland will be commissioned by SAK (St. Gallisch-Appenzellische Kraftwerke) and Osterwalder St. Gallen (AVIA) before the end of the year. With this plant, an important goal of the eco-cycle is increasingly coming to fruition: the establishment of decentralized production of green hydrogen. This will further reduce the transport distances between production and hydrogen filling stations.
Patrick Huber, VRP of H2 Energy Holding AG: “The Swiss hydrogen ecosystem and this joint achievement of all players is attracting worldwide attention. The concordance achieved with the companies in the H2 Mobility Switzerland support association is unique and a typical Swiss success story. In the European and global context, this model is considered proof that the hydrogen cycle can be implemented in practice. This has an influence that should not be underestimated on the immense investments that are currently being made in Europe and worldwide for the production of green hydrogen and the development of H2 ecosystems. It will now be central to create the right framework conditions to be able to further scale this successful start and to demonstrate that hydrogen technology will make its contribution to the implementation of the energy transition.”