400 Hydrogen Fueling Stations Across Germany By 2023


hydrogen refueling station

Last week’s story about a hydrogen fuel cell powered bicycle from Linde Group generated lots of discussion, so this story should interest lots of our readers. Even though European car makers are focusing on electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, that doesn’t mean that research into fuel cell cars is not moving forward as well. In particular, BMW is exploring hydrogen power for its future cars and Mercedes is doing so as well.

Now 6 European companies have announced a consortium that will build 400 hydrogen refueling stations across Germany by 2023. The group consists of Air Liquide, Linde, Daimler, OMV, Shell and Total. The  cross-sector joint venture will be known as H2 MOBILITY Deutschland. according to Electric Car Reports. It is based in Berlin and is already working hard on Stage One of the plan — the construction of 100 filling stations over the next few years.

Executives from H2 MOBILITY met with Germany’s minister of transportation, Alexander Dobrindt, last week to discuss the plan, which would make Germany the first country to offer a complete hydrogen refueling network. A total investment of around $500 million is anticipated. H2 MOBILITY is an international leader and has the potential to influence other countries to expand their hydrogen infrastructure. It is a member of the recently formed “Hydrogen Mobility Europe” network.

Germany wants to be a world leader in sustainable mobility solutions and efficient technology. It believes electric mobility via fuel cell powered vehicles will help to cut CO2 emissions significantly. H2 Mobility is working closely with car manufacturers BMW, Volkswagen, Honda and Toyota, as well as the technology company Intelligent Energy.

Hydrogen as a fuel source is controversial. Unless new technologies become available, it takes more energy to make commercial grade hydrogen than the hydrogen produced will be able to give back when used as a fuel source. Proponents argue that abundant solar energy will solve that problem, because there will soon be an excess of virtually free electric power from renewable sources. Skeptics argue that the world’s energy needs are a long way from being met by solar power and that it is more efficient to use what there is to recharge battery electric cars rather than to make hydrogen.

The chances are we won’t know who is right until at least a decade from now.


About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • Hydrogen can be made very cleanly from natural gas. Natural gas is a fuel and it’s abundant, cheap and everywhere. Batteries are more often than not charged from dirty fuels like coal or else inefficient solar cells that rarely exceed 10% efficiency.

    Natural gas has been running in infrastructure through every city and town for decades with relatively few problems. Hydrogen is an evolutionary step which removes the carbon atom leaving only pure hydrogen to be consumed in the dense cities, suburbs and rural areas where you use your vehicle.

    • Steve Hanley

      I dare to quibble with you, John. Much of the natural gas available in the US today is the result of fracking, perhaps the most environmentally destructive form of extractive technology with the possible exception of the Alberta tar sands.

      In order to fully evaluate the environmental impact of any energy source – including electricity – it is necessary to take into account ALL of the factors involved in its production and use – that so called well to wheel approach.

      Thank you for your comment.

    • Raphael Sturm

      Inefficient solar cells… Did you write that sentence, or did you steal it from anyone? 10% of the energy that could not be harvested otherwise, 10% of the energy which comes naturally and is as free and clean as it can get. Thats a better deal than any efficiency you could get from burning carbon fuels. Living of carbon fuels is like living of your savings, as soon as they are gone you have a big problem. And if natural gas was so clean and abundant, why not just use natural gas? Where do you think the carbon atom goes? It reacts with oxygen and becomes CO2, and in addition you want to waste energy to produce CO2?
      I have some fuel saving ideas, that I think you would like:
      – just driving downhill, and avoiding driving uphill again.
      – putting a windmill on your car so it generates electricity while driving.
      – shifting in reverse mid drive, to regenerate petrol.

  • Joe Viocoe

    Steady progress. It seems every article presents a larger number, when talking about hydrogen fueling stations…../sarc….. That larger number is the year it’ll happen.

    If they built stations as fast as they build hyped projections…They would be there by now.

  • socrateos

    > Proponents argue that abundant solar energy will solve …

    Thanks to hydrogen in the Sun, we have solar energy.

    • Joe Viocoe

      Thanks to ignorance of science, we have people confusing proton fusion, with hydrogen chemical reactions.

      • Ben The Mechanic

        Think whatever you want. The only form of fusion we will possibly be able to achieve on earth is using deuterium (derived from water). After we slam that hydrogen into a mass and create a larger mass; which original atom had the energy we are now harnessing?

        If we create deuterium en masse for fusion energy; what will we do with all of the enormous amount of protium left over that is useless in a fusion reaction? Deuterium is only about 0.0156% of all of the hydrogen we find. That leaves 99.9844% of the leftover hydrogen generated as PROTIUM – a zero emission FUEL.

  • Matt Wandel

    Is it really that controversial to think about hydrogen as an energy source? Think about the fuels we use now and ask if it hasn’t been H2 all along. Here are some major fuel sources that have hydrogen as their active ingredient:

    natural gas -> active energy ingredient H2
    coal -> active energy ingredient H2
    oil/gasoline -> active energy ingredient H2
    firewood -> active energy ingredient H2

    It’s really been hydrogen all along. Hydrogen makes up 2/3 of our planet. It’s everywhere. We can use plasma arc gasification tech to turn garbage into H2 and vitrified glass which is completely inert and have enough energy to run everything from just our garbage alone. We can power: our homes, our factories, our cars, our trucks, our hospitals. In areas where there is not a high enough concentration of garbage we can use water as a renewable fuel source via wind and solar. We can also use municipal wastes like sewage to make H2. It’s literally in everything and exists everywhere. Creating the infrastructure creates jobs and wealth. Energy is free when the infrastructure is developed.

    Batteries are important and will play an important part in the energy mix but they just don’t make any sense for a comprehensive energy solution. Cars do not scale up well in size that are powered by batteries. Semi trucks pulling 100,000 pound loads would need a 40,000 pound (or 40% of total weight) battery! That’s ridiculous.

    There are a lot of Tesla fanatics that spew fallacies about fuel cells because they’re very threatened by them because they bought Tesla stock. And, they should be threatened. They picked a company that cannot compete and sold them the sizzle without the steak. Elon Musk is a Steve Jobs wannabe and he’s just not the same. The lemmings have overrun the cliff with Elon Musk as their leader. The truth is that Tesla has no battery technology. The battery tech in a Tesla car is Panasonic technology (read Tesla’s 10Q or 10k to find that i’m telling the truth). Panasonic is moving away from batteries also. Panasonic is one of the most advanced fuel cell makers in the world and has a home use Solid Oxide Fuel Cell that powers a home, heats a home, and heats the hot water too – it’s the full package. Panasonic has sold Tesla the rights to use it’s hammy downs and still Tesla folks drink the kool aid from Elon Musk.

    • Joe Viocoe

      Actually the source of energy is NOT hydrogen. It is the bonds between atoms… also known as the Electrons.
      That is why energy cannot be extracted from water… regardless of how rich in hydrogen it is.

      It has nothing to do with just having hydrogen… but the relationship between elements.
      The thing that makes hydrogen an energy carrier at all… is its valence electron. The fact that the single proton has a weak hold on its electron, and shares it so willingly with an element like Carbon (and Oxygen)… is what gives hydrogen its ability to be an energy carrier.

      Why not skip all that… and go straight for the Electrons.

      • Ben The Mechanic

        Ahhh yes. I wonder where all of that solar energy comes from – seeing as hydrogen is not an energy source.

    • Joe Viocoe

      Now, as for Tesla… that car is both the sizzle and the steak… and will wipe the floor with anything you’ve ever driven.
      Meanwhile… the Hydrogen cars are weak and pathetic…. not even a sizzle.

      Panasonic isn’t moving away from batteries. SOFC are useful for the energy storage industry… but doesn’t take away from Panasonic’s core competency, batteries.
      Panasonic hasn’t sold the rights… they are actively building the cells in the Model S,X and the upcoming 3.

      Nobody is threatened by fuel cells. It is the scientifically illiterate who resort to spouting clear lies and nonsense, who make excuses for fuel cells, and why nobody wants them.

      • Matt Wandel

        Clear lies and nonsense? Sounds like crybaby talk to me Joe. I remember you from the Green Car forum where I was posting under my website name respectmyplanet.org.

        Let’s get a couple facts straight:
        1) Tesla does not own their battery technology
        2) A guy making $50k a year supporting a family is not going to spend $150k on a car he can’t drive from one city to the next city without having to stop for charging – it’s not practical.
        3) SOFC are not for energy storage. Hydrogen is fuel. Fuel is fed into the fuel cell to make continuous power. Tanks are for storage just like batteries are for storage.
        4) Panasonic is a leader in fuel cell technology in a country that, like Germany, is gearing up for the hydrogen economy.

        BEVs are a niche market. They’re don’t scale up in size well and are not practical for larger SUVs, pickup trucks, & semi trucks.

        The welding equipment that makes Tesla’s is 480V and that power doesn’t come from batteries. The steel that the Tesla is made out of was not made with batteries, will never be, and cannot be. Making steel and welding steel takes energy that batteries cannot make.

        How come you Tesla fanatics never talk about where the energy comes from to charge the batteries? If 1% of electricity is produced from solar power, where is the other 99% coming from?

        • Joe Viocoe

          Thanks for remembering me… But I don’t remember you, as the trolls are very forgettable. Especially the ones who regurgitate the same lies as you are doing now.

          • Matt Wandel

            Ha!. When you don’t like a fact, it doesn’t make it a lie. It makes you a crybaby.

          • Matt Wandel

            Does Tesla pay you to write that drivel?

          • Joe Viocoe

            No, however, it’s just as likely you are a short seller trying to spread nonsense you know are lies, to make a profit.

            Or more likely still, a hydrogen shill. There are far more paid puppets working in the oil/gas industry than working for a single small company like Tesla.

          • Matt Wandel

            No Joe. I’m right up front with who I am. My blog is http://www.respectmyplanet.org and it’s open for the world to see who I am and is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. I’m long on Hydrogen (HYGS, PLUG, FCEL, & BLDP) but I have not shorted any Tesla positions. Nothing I said is untrue and you know it. I’m not scientifically illiterate either. I don’t work for the oil & gas industry and my blog is clear that I advocate for the responsible migration away from oil. Are you for real? Do you have a site where I can learn more about your background or positions? Don’t forget, you trolled me, not the other way around. Anyone reading this thread can see that in black and white.

          • Joe Viocoe

            You weren’t trolled. You did the initial trolling.
            In one comment, I merely corrected your lack of understanding of chemistry.

            In another comment, I responded to your trolling comment about “Tesla fanatics” saying they spew lies.

            Plenty of hydrogen shills come around saying how much of an environmentalist they are… Yet are using hydrogen to prevent real change from happening.
            They attack real solutions that are happening today, in favor of a far off fantasy they can advocate to appear “green” .

            Now, since you’ve been making ridiculous claims about Tesla here… I’ll ask for evidence from objective sources. Even though your lies have been thoroughly debunked on other forums like GCR.

          • Matt Wandel

            Joe, so you know who I am, I have nothing to hide. Who are you? I think it’s you who is the troll & shill. No facebook page? No LinkedIn page? Anyone reading this feel free to do a Google search on Joe Viacoe and see if you can find any information to support that he’s a real person and not just a paid Tesla shill. No information exists for Joe Viacoe, no pictures, no tangible evidence to support that JV is not just a created pseudonym paid to shill. The only thing you’ll find is dozens of Tesla shill comments scattered about on various other sites. Prove your a real person somehow or you lose. Any evidence to support you’re a real person and not a troll coward hiding behind a fake name would be appreciated by anyone interested in this thread.

            Who is all over the internet on every single Tesla article with no facebook page, no linkedin page, no photo? Come on Joe, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it doesn’t add up. What’s your real name? Or are you too afraid to say.

          • Joe Viocoe

            Internet privacy is important… So you don’t get some stalker, like yourself.
            I’ve been commenting under the same name since before Tesla. Mostly on Autoblog Green. I’m already well known here.

            Who exactly is supposed to be paying me?

            Because I know who is paying you. You’re an accountant for the Natural Gas industry.

          • Matt Wandel

            More lies Joe. You don’t exist. My linkedin page is clear. I do not and have never worked for a natural gas company. You’re liar and coward and you lose. You have to hide your identity because you’re a shill. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be afraid to say who you are. Stand up for something and stop hiding. Anyone can read this string and determine very easily who the liar, coward, and troll is: its the person who goes by the fake name of Joe Viacoe.

          • Matt Wandel

            There’s a word for people who roam through comment boards and hurl insults at other people while hiding behind fake identities and cower from legitimate questions….what is that word….oh yeah… TROLL. hahaha

          • Ben The Mechanic

            Hey Matt, check this out from Green Car Reports:

            “We’ve got a real life Hydrogen/Natural Gas Industry shill at the below article, trying to claim that I’m being paid by Tesla and that I need a Facebook or LinkedIn account to prove I’m not. Yet he’s an accountant in Michigan working for the Natural Gas producers.


            The Hydrogen hype keeps extending farther and farther into the future. 2015 used to be the year of Fuel Cell Vehicles. Then 2020… now, they are talking 2023.” -Joe Viocoe

            If you ever need some IN DEPTH proof that this person, and about 10 others, will personally attack myself, as well as others like yourself, I have LOTS of these insults documented. It’s going to make a great news article one day about how the Tesla MuskRats sling acid poop at anybody that is not a zealot like them.

          • Matt Wandel

            Thanks Ben. Nothing upsets people as much as the truth. I must have really gotten under his skin for him to write that diatribe. I am a real person with a real linked in page that shows that I work at Comau LLC in Detroit. My company from Detroit is actually building the robots and the assembly line in Fresno California that will make all 3 models of the Tesla vehicles. The robots and robotic tooling equipment my company builds uses 480 volts to weld steel. Tesla is paying us millions of dollars for our technology and labor for our tooling technology to build their cars. I have nothing against Tesla and they seem like a good customer for our company and I don’t begrudge them that I support FCEVs over BEVs. I just don’t think BEVs are a total solution more than they are a niche market for short distance & small vehicle transportation.

            I appreciate the heads up because “Joe Viocoe” or whoever he is in real life needs to think I work in for a natural gas company to validate his fantasy argument. If he acknowledged the truth, his house of cards would come down. If he would read my linkedin page the irony might strike him that there would be no automated tooling to build Tesla vechicles if it were not for Detroit steel and our 480v robots and 480v welding equipment. All 480 volts that could come much more sensibly from fuel cells than batteries by the way.

          • Matt Wandel

            By the way Ben, do you have a link for his comment on Green Car Reports. I would like to flag it as defamatory. John Voelcker (who is also a real person) moderates that board and was very reasonable when I was attacked by people of similar ilk to the person behind the fake name of “Joe Viocoe”.

          • Ben The Mechanic
          • Bert

            How is that defamatory?

          • Ben The Mechanic

            well said; I don’t think these people understand how much power the real world needs, and how inadequate batteries really are vs fuel. 100 gallons of diesel = 4070 KWh, so even with the engine only at 25% efficiency, that is still excess of 1 MWh. Tesla’s 85KWh pack weighs excess of 1,300 lbs – this would put a mega-pack weighing in at over 15,000 lbs!

            The real problem is combustion. The constant compression and explosion of nitrogen rich mixtures is useless and horrible for the air. the method is archaic and can’t even break 50% efficiency barrier unless you really need a LOT of heat for something else.

            Not to go on a rant, i’m sure we agree. maybe we should chat sometime. My email is ben.helton@austinautomedic.com

          • Joe Viocoe

            Matt Wandel

            Matt graduated from Western Michigan University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. He has been a Financial Analyst for a Fortune 100 company in the automotive industry in the Detroit area since 1996. Matt enjoys learning the Google Maps API v3, PHP, and JavaScript in his free time. Matt lives in South Lyon, Michigan

            The fact that you have a blog, doesn’t make you legit.
            The fact that you have a 501(c)3 non-profit organization to promote Hydrogen, makes you suspicious.
            The fact that you are an Accountant in the Automobile industry, makes you a shill.

            In all honesty, I am Long TSLA, but only after I saw the Model S. But I am not affiliated with them in any other way. I didn’t write a blog to further my agenda. I didn’t create a non-profit org to influence policy.
            It seems you are spreading lies to stall the advancements in EV technology, by promising Hydrogen as the “Green Alternative”.

      • Erik Alapää

        Pitiful with these Tesla fanboys. Pure battery cars are just a bad idea. The future is battery-fuel-cell plugin hybrids. Period.

        • Joe Viocoe

          Reality doesn’t agree with your trolling statement.

          • Erik Alapää

            Reality is that a battery car is less practical than a gasoline car, while a fuel cell car is a drop-in replacement for gasoline cars. And as I am trying to explain, adding plug-in chargeable small, cheap battery to the fuel cell car makes the efficiency a non-issue.

          • Joe Viocoe

            Adding another conversion, “makes the efficiency a non-issue”?
            This is the kind of illiterate thinking that makes government waste more and more money on this debacle.

            You also don’t understand the word, “reality”, if you think that some speculation about a Hydrogen Fuel Cell future, is akin to the reality of the world today.

            It may seem like a “drop in replacement” for someone too shortsighted to see beyond the steering wheel, or the gas pump. It is based on ignorance of the vast and complex infrastructure and logistics that fueling requires.

          • Erik Alapää

            The obvious illiterate in this discussion is you. What on EARTH are you talking about, ‘adding another conversion’? The grid charges the small battery, and the FC-EV hybrid runs on battery for short city drives. If the driver’s yearly driven distance is 70% in the city, the car will be exactly as efficient as a pure EV for those 70%. And have all the advantages of a fuel cell car for the remaining, long-distance driving. Stop shoveling shit at people who are way smarter than you.

          • Joe Viocoe

            Wow, arrogant too. And this “smarter than thou” attitude is preventing you from learning about the engineering and physics that would help you understand the problem.
            There is a reason why most engineers and environmentalists here don’t support hydrogen. You won’t find many educated supporters, outside of corporations and governments which stand to directly profit from it.

          • Erik Alapää

            So you still cannot grasp the simple fact that there will be 0 extra conversions?

          • Joe Viocoe

            There already are extra conversions… Which is why FCVs are so inefficient compared to battery electrics.
            A bigger battery is just more weight. The Mirai is already 4,100 lbs.

            And a fuel cell stack added to an EV with a decent sized battery, like the Volt, would make the economics for hydrogen so much worse.

            Nobody wants to have their emergency backup fuel, when their battery gets low,… To be a rare fuel that might be 40 miles away.
            And no H2 station owner wants to rely on sporadic and unpredictable demand for the fuel, for only folks driving long distances.

            It’s a chicken/egg failure right from the start.

            Not to mention the super huge expense for the vehicle.
            Same reason nobody made a successful Diesel plugin hybrid.

            It’s a Homer car, trying to be everything, to everyone, at all times.

          • Erik Alapää

            NO extra conversions, how hard is that to understand? And as for weight, I would bet that a small battery with e.g. 50 km range, plus fuel-cell stack, plus 5-7 kg of hydrogen for long range already today weighs less than the super-expensive Tesla batteries (+600kg battery?)

          • Joe Viocoe

            The Mirai, a small Prius sized sedan, weighs 4078.6 lb(850 kg)!! That is only 560 lbs (258 kg) less than the much larger Model S.

            The 2011 Chevy Volt’s 35 mile (56 km) battery pack weighed 435 lbs (197 kg).

            Face it, the propaganda about how much lighter a Fuel Cell car could be,.. turned out to be smoke and mirrors.

            Also, Fuel Cells don’t have the economies of scale that batteries do. So it is not just a matter of being in an early phase of adoption…. but having HUGE demand, across multiple growth industries. This is why we’ve seen battery prices falling so fast. Fuel Cell stacks, on the other hand, are much lower in demand, and don’t have volume scale in other industries. Fuel Cell stacks measure in thousands produced each year. Even when you could forklifts, space application, and SOFCs for datacenter power. Lithium Ion cell production is measured in billions produced per year, if not trillions of cells. Industries like mobile devices, medical, automotive, etc.
            This will not happen for Fuel Cells.

            $57k is a heavily subsidized Toyota price, that won’t go down this decade.

    • Ben The Mechanic

      How dare somebody threaten the house of Elon. Don’t you know; fool cells were put on Earth by the dark ones, they are here to deceive people and scare them from the truth and light, our father, the battery. The Earth will come to a disastrous fiery doom if we do not mass adopt remote controllable battery car to replace the dino-car.