Hydrogen fuel cells powering the next generation of Hyundai EVs?

  • Published on February 19th, 2020

The see-saw, up-and-down race to replace fossil hydrogen fuel with renewable hydrogen just got a little more interesting thanks to Hyundai, which is apparently competing with Toyota for the fuel cell vehicle crown. Hyundai just inked a fossil-hydrogen deal in South Korea, but meanwhile, with the other hand, it also John Hancocked a green H2 agreement with the US Department of Energy. And then there’s that little project it has going on in Switzerland…

Renewable hydrogen fuel station SimpleFuel
Renewable hydrogen fuel station SimpleFuel by IVYS Energy Solutions via US DOE


[Editor’s note: Hydrogen cars are a dead end at best and delay tactic sucking up precious public funding at worst, imho. It may have applications in some types of large vehicles and certainly could in stationary storage — on a commercial level. We’ll see. But there’s no genuine market forming for hydrogen fuel cell cars and there won’t be one. – Zach Shahan]

Renewable Hydrogen Vs. Fossil Fuels

To begin with the most recent news first, over the weekend Hyundai announced that between 2023 and 2024 it will deliver a total of 12 fuel cell trucks to South Korea’s Gwangyang Port in South Jeolla Province. The port also hosts petrochemical operations, and at least for now the idea is to fuel the trucks with hydrogen from those facilities.


On the plus side, though, Hyundai has ramped up the renewable hydrogen angle on its long running collaboration with the US Department of Energy for fuel cell vehicles.

The latest twist involves sending 5 of the company’s splashy new Nexo fuel cell sedans to the Energy Department for a technology validation study.

Last time we checked, American Nexo fans could only get a fuel cell car in California. If all goes according to plan, both the cars and the fuel will be available in other states.

[Editor’s note: I think it’s absolutely clear by now that hydrogen cars are a dead end. Perhaps a few fuel stations will be installed in a few other states and some suckers will buy a few more hydrogen cars, but there’s no viable path for them on any real scale. Large hydrogen vehicles may be a different story. Or not.]

At least one of the cars is heading to Washington, DC, where Hyundai will also support the installation of a compact renewable hydrogen fuel station developed by the US company IVYS Energy Solutions under the moniker SimpleFuel, with a generous assist from the Energy Department.

The idea was to come up with a shippable, modular unit that can fit into a parking spot and “split” hydrogen from water, ideally with wind or solar energy providing the electricity needed to run the system.

Toyota already has two SimpleFuel units in Japan, so it looks like the DC unit is a right-back-at-you moment for Hyundai.

More Renewable Hydrogen For Switzerland

Circling back around to that South Korea project, by the time they get those fossil fuel cell trucks up and running, renewable hydrogen will be poised to sprint ahead.

Hyundai has already hatched plans to launch 1,600 fuel cell trucks in the Swiss market under an agreement with the renewable hydrogen consortium Hydrospider.

If Hydrospider doesn’t ring any bells, join the club. The collaboration hasn’t hit the CleanTechnica radar yet, so here’s the rundown from its website:

Hydrospider AG is the result of the collaboration between Alpiq und H2 Energy. Both companies hold 45% of the shares in Hydrospider AG. The remaining 10% is held by Linde AG.

Alpiq is one of the leading Swiss energy service providers and electricity producers, particularly in the hydropower sector.

H2 Energy is a pioneer in hydrogen and fuel cell solutions.

Linde is a leading industrial gases and engineering company serving customers in more than 100 countries.

Got all that? Aside from wind and solar, Hydrospider is focusing on hydropower to fuel its electrolysis-based system for producing hydrogen from water.

Wait, Where Is The Electrolysis Market Going?

As for whether or not renewable hydrogen can compete with battery EVs and gasmobiles in the open market, analysts are all over the map. Some see a cost-competitive future looming just over the horizon, say in about five years or so — just like Hyundai and Hydrospider have planned. Other analysts see renewable hydrogen edging into the stationary energy storage market in the near future, while struggling to get a foothold in mobile applications.

In the meantime, consider that all three states in the far reaches of the US northeast — Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont — are already putting out feelers for stationary energy storage through renewable hydrogen, with the aim of sucking more renewable energy into their grids.

CleanTechnica is also reaching out to Hyundai to see where those other Nexos are going. Aside from DC, perhaps one of them will land in “real America,” where a new hydrogen-promoting consortium just launched.

Photo (screenshot): IVYS Energy Solutions renewable hydrogen fuel station via US Department of Energy.

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(Originally appeared at our sister-site, Cleantechnica.)

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