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A climate smart solution for heavy transport

Hydrogen fuel cells

Electrification of commercial vehicles plays an important role on the journey towards a carbon neutral society. Using hydrogen fuel cells to power the electric driveline will be a good option for heavy transport and demanding long-haul applications. The electric driveline is the foundation, but while batteries as an energy source is and will continue to be a key technology, there are other pieces of the e-puzzle.

Battery electric vehicles are a suitable solution for city distribution, city buses, regional haulage and similar applications. For use cases where you carry heavier loads and/or drive longer distances, the weight of the batteries themselves and the driving distance until you need to recharge, become limiting factors. For this matter, hydrogen fuel cells are likely to be an interesting alternative. Battery and fuel cell technology will complement each other as propulsion sources- and both will be needed in order to build the sustainable transport system of tomorrow.

From hydrogen to electricity

With a fuel cell truck, you stop at a gas station and fill the tank of your electric vehicle with hydrogen. That hydrogen is converted into electricity by the fuel cells as you drive. The electricity generated onboard using fuel cell technology powers the electric driveline. Hydrogen batteries and fuel cells are not only promising options for trucks and buses on long-distance routes. Other areas with potential include construction equipment and different marine- and industrial applications would also benefit greatly from fuel cell electric vehicles.

There are two main ways to produce the hydrogen needed. So-called green hydrogen can be produced locally at the tank station, using electricity to convert water into hydrogen. Blue hydrogen is expected to be produced from natural gas, utilizing carbon capture technology to create a carbon neutral fuel. Developing the supply infrastructure for hydrogen is a crucial factor.

Joint venture with Daimler Truck AG

Fuel cells as a concept is not new, but the development of fuel cell technology that is viable for use in a commercial transport system and fuel cell production is now accelerating. The Volvo Group has engaged in the 50/50 joint venture cellcentric with its natural competitor Daimler Truck AG to develop and expand our fuel cell production for demanding applications. Large-scale series production of fuel cell systems will start in the second half of this decade..

“Together with Daimler Truck AG we aim to drive this development, as it is an important enabler of sustainable transport solutions. We are now clearly showing that we believe in hydrogen fuel cells for commercial vehicles. Now we would very much like to see other companies and institutions supporting and contributing to this development, for example when it comes to establishing the fuel infrastructure needed. Ultimately, we want to be able to offer our customers an attractive alternative to diesel,” says Lars Stenqvist, Volvo Group CTO.

Learn more about the joint venture

Working towards a net zero greenhouse gas emissions future

The Volvo Group is aiming to become a leading hydrogen fuel cell developer, with the ambition to lead the whole industry towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. With Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group as fuel cell manufacturers in the forefront of the market, the direction is set. But for this vision to become a reality, other stakeholders and players will need to do their part, supporting and contributing to fuel cell manufacturers and their development. Not only to ensure that the necessary fuel infrastructure for hydrogen is in place, but also to provide sufficient incentives for transport companies to shift to more sustainable solutions like fuel cell electric vehicles.

Fact: What are hydrogen fuel cells?

A hydrogen fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that converts the chemical energy of the fuel, in this case hydrogen, and oxygen (in the air) into electricity. The electricity is used to power the electrical vehicle.

The Volvo Group will be expanding as fuel cell manufacturers in the coming years, where the aim is for half of its European sales in 2030 to be from electric trucks, powered by either batteries or hydrogen fuel cells.

Investing in hydrogen fuel cell technology is part of the research and development for the Volvo Group, which is important for every company stakeholder, whether customers buying solutions, suppliers delivering into our value chains or investors buying stocks and shares.

 

Benefits of hydrogen fuel cell technology

Hydrogen batteries and fuel cells present several potential advantages, including:

  • Potentially renewable and readily available
  • A potentially clean and flexible energy source
  • Enabling zero tailpipe emissions
  • Fast charging/filling times
  • Long usage times

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