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DFS Hydrogen Dispenser : Inside the Complex World of Hydrogen Stations - An interview with Simon Keuschnig, Global Key account manager at Dover Fueling Solutions
DFS Hydrogen Dispenser : Inside the Complex World of Hydrogen Stations - An interview with Simon Keuschnig, Global Key account manager at Dover Fueling Solutions

Hydrogen stations are popping up everywhere in Europe (see our map) and will continue to achieve the goal of having one every 150km. But how does a hydrogen station work exactly? Today, I have a discussion with Simon Keusching, global Key Account Manager for Dover Fueling Solutions® (DFS), focusing on hydrogen solutions. DFS has experience of more than 130 years in the fuel and convenience retail industry and officially launched the DFS Hydrogen dispenser in 2022.

Claire: What is the specificity of constructing a hydrogen station?

To explain how innovative it is, I like to compare it with diesel stations. There are some safety rules associated with both, obviously, but the process is pretty simple.

For hydrogen it is highly different because there is a full hydrogen process plant within the station, aggregating a lot of engineering components.

C: Could you detail that hydrogen process happening within the station?

There are five main components aggregated:

· The offloading panel: it takes hydrogen from the tube trailer to the compressor

· The compressor: when you start to onload, at the beginning, you have a lot pressure in the tube trailer (350bar). But as the tube trailer is emptying, the pressure decreases also. The compressor works then to put more pressure on the hydrogen. The compressor also raises the pressure up to 450 bar so that more hydrogen can be stored on the station and the filling can be done quicker. For Heavy Duty Truck, the tank needs to be filled with 350 bar and 700 bar for passenger cars.

· The buffer: we need to store some hydrogen at high pressure in the station to make sure it is available any time at the right pressure and to store more hydrogen

· The cooling system: when we load a vehicle with hydrogen, and the charging is fast, it is heating a lot and could be dangerous: so we need to cool the hydrogen before. It could be done without cooling, but it would be longer.

· The dispenser and the nozzle: this part is responsible to regulate the pressure, the temperature, the flow and the quantity “delivered” into the car.

It looks complex inside but for a user the experience is very similar: very fast!

C: We see a lot of new energy solutions for vehicles, and it is sometime confusing to know which one to choose. What is your opinion on that?

Indeed, there are a lot of alternative fuels, at the moment. For example:

· Gas, CNG, LPG, LNG. These are still fossil fuels that burn in the engine. They reduce emissions by around 30%.

· Bio-gas. This is also a solution that we can liquify and use in the same infrastructure as LNG. Transforming waste into gas is also an interesting solution but it still emits CO2 when the vehicle runs.

For me, the main solutions for the future are:

· Green hydrogen: for heavy duty trucks, vehicles running a lot, etc.

· Decarbonized electricity: for light cars.

· E-fuels produced with green hydrogen for even more powerful solutions.

Hydrogen is still at the beginning, what are the next hurdles to come across?

The goal is to standardize the equipment and the mass production of every component. Almost every player of the hydrogen value chain has to scale up in the upcoming years. The demand is here but we need to have the right people, the right components and we need them quickly.

The positive points are that there is a lot of private and public investments done, AND now, it looks like everyone starts to align on a big ambition for hydrogen.

You want to learn more about hydrogen at Dover Fueling solutions? Discover their podcast episodes:

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HyArk: Navigating the Future with Hydrogen-Powered Boats - An Interview with Nick Swift, Founder of Hydrogen Afloat
HyArk: Navigating the Future with Hydrogen-Powered Boats - An Interview with Nick Swift, Founder of Hydrogen Afloat

Today, I had an interesting discussion with Nick Swift, Founder of Hydrogen Afloat, a 2-year-old company that is offering hydrogen power solutions for boats.

Lhyfe Heroes: How did you have this idea of using hydrogen for boats?

I’ve been living on a boat for more than 15 years. When you live on a boat all year long, you need to generate electricity to live by, electricity to power the lights, the fridge, the TV and radio. I tried to imagine an ecofriendly solution to replace running my diesel engine when stationary, which is both noisy and polluting. Whilst looking for alternatives, I came across small hydrogen fuel cells and developed a system to integrate such a fuel cell onto the roof of my boat. I had to make sure that it was safe and well-integrated into the design of my boat.

It worked so well that I thought other people should benefit from the technology and the idea. That’s when I decided to set up Hydrogen Afloat.  

L.H.: So, what is the product of Hydrogen Afloat?

We make a product called “HyArk”.  It is a hydrogen fuel cell solution to generate domestic power on boats. We do domestic power now because we can do this NOW, using portable hydrogen cylinders.  There is no hydrogen infrastructure on the canals and rivers, no filling stations, so we must use portable cylinders.  By creating demand, the infrastructure will be developed, then we’ll be able to use filling stations.

There are lots of people talking about hydrogen (many conferences, events, papers, …) but when you look for people doing things, there are not so many. That is what Hydrogen afloat is all about: we have a product that is available now and that people can use in their daily lives.  

L.H.: How do you see this initiative growing?

In time, we will get to the point where there will be a network for supplying people with hydrogen, then we will look at hydrogen for propulsion, instead of using diesel to drive the boat along. We need to start with the small things! Of course, we need large-scale industrial hydrogen projects, but I think the small scale is also important: we cannot go from “zero to hero” overnight.  We are getting hydrogen out into the community. Lots of people see the equipment on the boat on the Kennet and Avon canal, between London and Bristol. For many people, this is the first time they have seen a hydrogen fuel cell. We have many questions asked, so we get the chance to explain what it is and why we use it.  We are raising the general awareness about hydrogen and net zero solutions.  

L.H.:For now, who are you targeting with this offer?

In the UK, there are 7.500 km of canals and rivers and around 35,000 individuals living on  boats. These people are already using propane gas on their boats for cooking and heating and many are genuinely concerned by the environmental and air quality. They want to adopt new technology to find suitable solutions to respond this concern.  

L.H.: What is the concrete impact of one fuel cell on one boat?

The hydrogen we are using is grey hydrogen, made from fossil fuel.  This is the only hydrogen that is available in the UK at the moment.  The benefits are therefore around local air quality and the fact the equipment works automatically, turning on when the batteries on the boat need charging. The carbon benefits arrive when we move to locally produced green hydrogen, hydrogen made from renewable resources.  Then we get to a true zero-carbon power solution.  We estimate we save around 20 litres of diesel per year, which is around 50kg of C02, plus the wear and tear on the engine and the noise it creates.  Our fuel cell system is nearly silent when working.

L.H.: What type of challenges have you met?

The price of the molecule is still high, compared to the alternatives, but I’m confident cheaper hydrogen will come soon.  

Regarding the installation, integrating the HyArk fuel cell unit into the boat, while respecting its design was difficult: we wanted to keep the traditional style of a British narrow boat, but also show this is an innovative new technology. Finding the space on the boat is also a challenge. In the UK, some canal bridges are very low, so our solution had to be removable and light weight in case you need to go under such a bridge.

And finally, there are no regulations in place for this “domestic application” on a “transport system” so we had to develop the safety arrangements from first principles and we tend not to be eligible for any grants.

But every challenge is an opportunity, isn’t it?  

L.H.: In conclusion, what’s your vision for hydrogen in the UK market?

I think we have lost some of the lead that the UK used to have in the energy transition. However, we still have a lot of innovative technologies developed in the UK.  A recent announcement of over £200 million to launch a fleet of zero emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) will accelerate plans to decarbonise road freight. That will help the hydrogen market grow in the UK, which should help us with hydrogen supply.  

Hopefully, in some small part, we at Hydrogen Afloat will be doing our bit to help the energy transition, addressing some of the challenges of climate change.  

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CO2 Emissions: A Focus on Maritime Transport
CO2 Emissions: A Focus on Maritime Transport

Maritime transport is a growing source of CO2 emissions over the past 30 years, causing significant concern. This growth is mainly due to a record increase in traffic (number of passengers and freight volume) and the use of older, increasingly large ships.

Powered by heavy fuel oil, one of the world's dirtiest fuels, merchant ships are also blamed for their role in marine pollution caused by plastic and hydrocarbon discharge.

Figures we'd like to see change

  • Shipping accounts for about 3% of global CO2 emissions, or between 600 and 1,100 million tons per year over the past decade, according to the latest IPCC report(1).
  • Annual CO2 emissions from international maritime transport have doubled since 1990(2).

What measures are being taken at European and global levels?

Significant advances were voted on by European MPs at the end of 2022:

  • The obligation for large shipowners (> 5,000 gross tons) to use a percentage of green hydrogen-derived fuels by 2030.
  • The inclusion of maritime transport in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which will, for the first time, require ship operators to pay for their carbon emissions.

It should also be noted that, since January 1, 2023, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has implemented a mandatory annual international data collection system for CO2 emissions for all ships.

Green solutions in maritime transport!

Solutions to minimize CO2 emissions exist:

  • Electric barges: The first prototype of a 100% electric container ship from Dutch company Port-Liner was introduced in 2018. Currently limited by a low battery range (maximum 35 hours) and storage capacity, this container ship, nicknamed the "Tesla" boat, is hailed as a revolution for maritime freight.
  • Hybrid cargo ships: French company Zephyr & Borée designs commercial ships that combine sails and engines. Their latest example, the Canopée, recently completed its first transatlantic crossing with parts of the Ariane 6 launcher onboard. This 121-meter hybrid ship could reduce the CO2 emissions of a conventional container ship by 35%.
  • "Zero-emission" hydrogen-powered boats: The Hylias project, coordinated by Europe Technologies CIAM and Morbihan Énergies, plans to launch a 24-meter electro-hydrogen propulsion vessel to transport 150-200 passengers in the Gulf of Morbihan by 2024.


(2) Global international shipping CO₂ emissions 1970-2021 – Statista – February 2023

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CO2 Emissions: Focus on Trucks
CO2 Emissions: Focus on Trucks

While overall greenhouse gas emissions in the EU are decreasing, CO2 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles have been increasing every year since 2014, only decreasing in 2020 during the pandemic. The improvement in truck energy efficiency, made possible by the emergence of new fuels and technologies, is not enough to offset the increase in emissions due to the growing demand for freight transport.

Figures We'd Like to See Change

· Trucks are responsible for about 5% of global CO2 emissions, or 1.8 billion tons (1).

· In total, 99% of the EU's heavy-duty vehicle fleet (trucks, buses, and coaches) are currently equipped with a combustion engine (2).

What Measures at the European Level?

On February 14, the European Commission increased the decarbonization rates imposed on truck manufacturers: CO2 emissions will have to be reduced by 45% in 2030 compared to 2019, 65% in 2045 and then 90% in 2040. These new standards not only imply an intensification of the development of new zero-emission technologies but also the deployment of adequate infrastructure for recharging and refueling.

Going Green for Trucks!

Innovations mainly focus on the development of electric and hydrogen trucks (via fuel cells or hydrogen combustion engines).

· Many manufacturers (Tesla, Renault, Volvo, Iveco...) are entering the electric truck market, which have the advantages of operating without direct CO2 emissions and significantly reducing noise and odor pollution. However, their environmental footprint over the complete lifecycle is still debated.

· Hydrogen particularly attracts truck manufacturers due to its ability to offer solutions with greater autonomy and shorter charging times than electric versions. With its fuel cell truck, Hylico made a sensation at the last edition of the Hyvolution show in early February. The French start-up plans to operate the heavy-duty vehicle using a negative carbon fuel derived from biomass thermolysis. Another example, last December, the 40-ton truck "GOH!", running on green hydrogen, hit the Swiss roads.

(1) Source IEA, 2021.

(2) Source CITEPA, 2023.

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CO2 Emissions: Focus on Air Transport
CO2 Emissions: Focus on Air Transport

Air transport is the second largest source of CO2 emissions in transportation after road transport. Indeed, in the space of 30 years, technical advancements have enabled the sector to halve emissions per passenger per kilometer. However, this is insufficient to counterbalance the increase in emissions due to the rise in air traffic.

Figures we'd like to see evolve

· Air transport emits nearly 2% of global CO2 emissions (1), or between 600 and 700 million tons per year according to sources, for a means of transport that only concerns 10% of the world population.

· It contributes 4.9% to global warming (1).

What measures at European and global levels?

Since 2012, the European Union regulates intra-EEA (European Economic Area) flights through its greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme (EU ETS).

It also requires a portion of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) to be incorporated into the overall kerosene supply, with a progressive increase from 2% in 2025 to 63% in 2050.

At the global level, the EU is working with ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) to implement CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), a measure that encourages airlines to offset their emissions by financing green projects. Based on volunteer participation for a six-year pilot period, it will become mandatory for all airlines in 2027.

Going green in air transport!

· Biofuels and e-fuels, grouped under the SAFs label, can be an alternative to kerosene, but their cost, 2 to 5 times higher than that of kerosene, hampers their adoption. Another important point, the carbon footprint differs significantly from one biofuel to another, approaching that of kerosene in some cases.

· Beyond reducing direct emissions to zero, electric planes offer many other advantages, such as high reliability and very low noise emissions. However, the capacity and weight of batteries limit the development of these devices to short flights with few passengers. Swedish company Heart Aerospace is currently working on the development of the ES-30. This regional transport plane, which is scheduled to enter service in 2028, will accommodate up to 30 passengers, with a range of 200 km in electric mode and 400 km in hybrid mode.

· By 2035, Airbus aims to launch the first "ZEROe" hydrogen-powered plane. Before the launch of this device, many technical challenges need to be overcome, particularly concerning fuel storage and delivery, the need for lightweight, cost-effective cryogenic tanks, and the design of the plane itself.

Useful link: Calculate the amount of CO2 emitted during your flight

(1) Perlman, K. (2018). Contribution of the Global Aviation Sector to Achieving Paris Agreement Climate Objectives.

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What are the Renewable Fuels of Non-Biological Origin (RFNBO) and why they are so important for European decarbonation strategy ?
What are the Renewable Fuels of Non-Biological Origin (RFNBO) and why they are so important for European decarbonation strategy ?

The European Union is currently defining the regulatory framework to create a new clean Hydrogen economy in Europe. Since 2020, the European Commission proposed many ambitious measures to support  Renewable Hydrogen. Indeed, true renewable hydrogen (produced through electrolysis only with renewable electricity)  is identified as one of the key lever to achieve European goals in terms of CO2 reduction. And the challenge is big : the EU even increased the target of renewables in our energy mix from 32% to 43%, because we need to act for climate.

On the 10th of February 2023, the European Commission proposed new rules to define how to produce renewable hydrogen and its derivatives (as Renewable Fuels of Non-Biological Origin (soon well known RFNBO). As the text received positive feedback from the European Parliament and Council, it should be very soon adopted in its final version.

Let’s explain them as simply as possible, thanks to Alice Ruczinski, working as European Funding Manager for Lhyfe.

How to define RFNBO?

Renewable Fuels of Non-Biological Origin (RFNBO) refers to the renewable fuels that are produced using non-biological sources. The term may designate renewable hydrogen itself but also its derivatives, i.e. advanced fuels based on renewable hydrogen. To be called this way, RFNBOs producers have to respect some rules to be sure that the final product that will be used in the transport sector or in the industry really has the lowest CO2 footprint possible.

To put it in a nutshell, RFNBO is green renewable hydrogen but also what is produced with green hydrogen such as SAF (sustainable Aviation Fuel), green ammonia, green methanol. 

What are the main rules proposed by the EU to produce RFNBO? 

As you might know (and if not, please refer to this article) to produce RFNBO (aka renewable  hydrogen and its derivatives if you follow me) it requires a lot, but really a lot, of renewable electricity. 

This new European rule determines clearly which electricity to use and how to use it: There will be two types of possible connection between an electricity plant  and a hydrogen plant : 

  • Direct connection : the hydrogen production asset will be directly connected to the electricity production asset. For example this is how the hydrogen is produced in Lhyfe’s pilot plant of Bouin
  • Grid connection : the hydrogen production asset is connected to the grid and use electricity purchased through PPAs (Power purchase Agreement) with renewable electricity producers and that is : 
  1. renewable 
  2. additional. That is to say using renewable electricity production plant that were built less than 36 months before the start of the RFNBO production plant *
  3. generated at the same time than the production of hydrogen. To be precise, it will have to be electricity produced the same month before 2030 and even the same hour after 2030.
  4. generated in the same country than the production site of hydrogen ** 

In the meantime, what happens with other types of hydrogen?

Grey hydrogen, which still represents today the majority of the hydrogen available will have to go low-carbon and find certificates to do so. Different types of certificates will exist per country and depending on the scope of the methodology used to calculate CO2 emission. 

For RFNBOs, the major part of the lifecycle of the final product will be taken into account. It will be possible to trade those certificates, in a similar way as the carbon quotas today.

Remember that for now, it is just a proposal and final adoption will come soon, we will keep you posted !

reference : In the revised Directive on Renewable Energy (RED) proposal in 2021, 6th IPCC Report on the state of knowledge of climate change, its widespread impacts and risks, and climate change mitigation and adaptation

* this rules doesn’t apply in countries where the electricity from the grid has a carbon content lower than 18gCO2e/ MJ) 

**except for Sweden which is divided in 4 zones

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