The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) and Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking (S2R JU) launched a new study which analyses the opportunities to enable a larger introduction of fuel cells and hydrogen (FCH) technologies within the European railway market. The study shows that FCH technologies have a significant potential on the railway market, as it provides a flexible, zero-emission and potentially cost-competitive solution underpinning clear business cases to replace diesel trains, within certain contexts.
“When talking about hydrogen technology, we are not talking only about transport decarbonisation. We are also talking about clean air, the reduction of congestion levels, externalisation of costs. It is very important to explore hydrogen solution which will lead to an efficient transport system. Shift2Rail demonstrated once again the importance of railway transport when talking about innovation and impact reduction on the environment. “Hydrogen fuel cell technology is essential to achieve deep decarbonisation in transport and could play a systemic role in the transition to sustainable energy solutions. I am a firm supporter of FCH and further innovation,” Henrik Hololei, the Director-General for Mobility and Transport, said.
The study on the use of fuel cells and hydrogen in the railway environment assesses the state of the art, the business case, the market potential, ten specific case studies and the main barriers to the use of FCH technologies in different rail applications.
“The analysis finds that the global FCH train market development activities are currently concentrated in Europe. This is encouraging as it puts Europe at the forefront of FCH train technology, which constitutes a significant potential for the European FCH industry, Carlo Borghini, Executive Director of S2R JU said.
The study analised ten selected case studies across Europe, and three applications were evaluated – multimple units, shunter locomotives and freight locomotives. Some cases already show a positive Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for fuel cells, while in other applications fuel cells are recognised as the most adequate zero-emission alternative.
The case studies revealed attractive use cases and potential boundary conditions for FCH technologies in the rail environment. Several barriers were identified that must be overcome in order to unlock its full potential. Three targeted research and innovation topics have been proposed as the means to tackle the most important of these barriers.