The European Union has revised its alternative fuel station policy for member states, and most noticeably the new rules it lack any sort of guidelines for hydrogen, reports Transport Evolved. Has the EU given up on hydrogen?
The revised policy drops specific clean fuel filling station mandates that aimed to connect the whole continent with lots of options for alternative fuels. Because Europe is climbing out of a deep recession that hurt the auto industry particularly hard though, even wealthier nations are falling far short of their initial goals. The U.K. for example will have 64,000 fewer charging stations than the original mandate called for.
The new proposal calls for EU member states to publicly disclose their country’s specific plans for supporting a clean fuel infrastructure, as well as laying out suggested (but non-binding) guidelines. For example the new policy suggests having one CNG filling station every 93 miles, and specifically along the TEN-T network which links major cities and ports within the EU. This will help facilitate freight trucks running CNG rather than diesel, as is the growing trend. The guidelines also suggest adding Liquefied Petroleum Gas, or LPG stations along the TEN-T network, but spaced out every 248 miles.
For electric vehicles, the EU proposes one public charging station for every 10 electric cars, centered on urban environments rather than cross-country travel. While that seems like a fairly small ratio, it means a country like the UK will need a total of 150,000 public charging stations if it meets its own internal goals of 1.5 million EVs by 2020.
Noticeably absent from this plan are any goals or guidelines for adding hydrogen fueling stations; instead the EU suggests having “adequate” refueling stations for member states that choose to embrace hydrogen. For automakers hoping a unified hydrogen fueling network would connect the continent, this is bad news indeed. It seems to signal that EU’s disinterest in supporting hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure, which would be limited in scope but high in cost. Any such hydrogen fueling infrastructure will likely fall to automakers themselves and local governments, rather than the entire EU.
Critics of this new plan say it gives member states a pass to set easy-to-achieve goals, and it lacks the sort of unified effort necessary to make this transition from fossil to clean fuels. Hydrogen fuel supports have to be especially hurt though, as Europe seems to have thrown in the towel on fuel cell technology. That will make competing with EVs, which are the fastest growing car segment in Europe, all but impossible from this point forward.