Owning a hydrogen vehicle will require some careful planning to ensure you don’t get stranded, so here are the refuelling stations to keep in the back of your mind.
Since hydrogen vehicles first went on sale in Australia earlier this year there has been an influx of interest in the emerging technology, but if you were to pick one up where can you fill it up?
It’s a question with an evolving answer as the technology sees more attention from manufacturers and drivers but it also depends on what hydrogen car you choose.
Currently, the largely Canberra-based fleet of Hyundai Nexo midsize SUVs and the Melbourne-based Toyota Mirai sedan are the only two vehicles available in Australia, with 20 units of each currently being leased out to businesses and other interested individuals.
A key benefit of these hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) is they have the ability to fill up their tank in around five minutes, in comparison to electric cars which take at least an hour even with the fastest 350kW chargers.
At the time of writing, Canberra is home to Australia’s only ‘traditional’ public hydrogen refuelling station which is run by ActewAGL.
In Melbourne, Toyota is offering free refuelling to Mirai drivers at its Centre of Excellence in Melbourne’s southwest, with all the hydrogen used produced and stored in-house.
While not technically a public station, Tayla Hartley, the senior public affairs specialist at Toyota Australia told Chasing Cars that anyone could use it if they wanted to.
“Technically any fuel cell vehicle that meets the international refuelling standards will be able to use the refuelling equipment at the Toyota Hydrogen Centre and we’re developing additional procedures to support this,” she said.
A second hydrogen station will soon be opened in Victoria led by the CSIRO, in partnership with Swinburne University of Technology, which will provide hydrogen to cars in the area and allow them to conduct real-world research into the emerging technology.
It’s also worth noting that Hyundai has a private hydrogen station at its headquarters in Sydney which it shares with Toyota in their local development of hydrogen cars but that site is not currently available for the public to use.
Those further north in Brisbane will soon be able to visit a hydrogen station built by BOC who says its facility is capable of collecting and distributing 2,400 kilograms of renewable hydrogen every month.
Chris Dolman, the business development manager at BOC, told Chasing Cars the refuelling station was likely to open in August as part of a traditional service station facility.
In Western Australia, ATCO and Fortescue have partnered with the state government to provide a refuelling station at their hydrogen plant, though access is currently limited to the afformentioned businesses and other previously agreed upon third parties.
While refueling stations are currently sparse that may be about to change, with manufacturers such as Hyundai looking towards hydrogen as a more viable zero emissions alternative to the existing diesel powertrains for commercial vehicles.
Scott Nargar, Hyundai Australia’s future mobility chief, previously told Chasing Cars hydrogen trucks were currently being introduced in China, North America and Europe and we could be next.
“Everything that is heavier and uses diesel today will more than likely use a fuel cell (hydrogen) in the future,” he said.
While the infrastructure isn’t quite there yet, Mr Nargar said he believed hydrogen was gaining momentum with working being done to secure the financial backing and mapping for a potential grid in Australia.
Earlier this year we saw a promising trial announced by the University of Newcastle who claimed they have cracked some major logistical hurdles associated with capturing and transporting hydrogen.
Under the trial, water is captured from the atmosphere and through a multi-step process is transported through Australia’s existing and expansive gas line network to its destination.
Mark Fothergill, the general manager of infrastructure engineering at APA Group, who manages the gas lines within the trial, told Chasing Cars the technology had the potential to roll out hydrogen anywhere in Australia if the project was a success.
So while hydrogen refuelling stations may currently be limited in number, those few willing to sign up in the early stages could see life get easier over time.
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