Hydrogen stations in Poland. Are we facing a fuel revolution?

stacje wodorowe

In September this year. The country’s first publicly accessible station for refueling hydrogen has opened in Warsaw. This is the beginning of a network that will eventually enable Poles to travel green. The initiative is financially supported by the National Environmental Protection and Water Management Fund. Hydrogen stations are actively being built throughout Europe, and there are already nearly 100 in Germany.

What are hydrogen stations?

They look like classic fueling stations – there are ramps and self-service dispensers with an electronic payment option. Instead of gasoline or LPG, however, hydrogen stations offer hydrogen (H2) at the appropriate pressure: 700 bar for cars and 350 bar for heavier vehicles, namely buses or trucks. The refueling itself takes between 3-4 minutes for cars and up to 15 for buses, which is less than charging an electric vehicle.

In the vehicle, the fueled hydrogen is sent to the fuel cells, where the opposite process to electrolysis takes place. Hydrogen ions under high pressure combine with oxygen from the air, and the resulting flow of electrons generates electricity that allows the engine to run. Thus, in hydrogen cars, unlike electric cars, electricity is not supplied from outside, but generated independently by the vehicle.

Advantages of driving on hydrogen

Hydrogen stations are a step toward an optimistic scenario in which traffic does not pose any ballast to the environment. This is because hydrogen-powered vehicles emit only distilled water in the form of steam and some heat. There is no release of carbon dioxide or any other harmful gases. There are several undeniable benefits to hydrogen as the fuel of the future, starting with the fact that it is the most common element in the universe. Unlike solar energy or biofuels, its production does not involve taking up large spaces.

Hydrogen fuel cell technology also provides energywith exceptionally high density and efficiency – in this respect it is superior to other fuels such as gasoline and diesel. One refueling is enough for a passenger car to cover up to 650 kilometers, which is how much only the best electric cars manage to achieve. The gasoline engine uses only 20-25 percent. energy supplied to it, converting the rest into heat, the hydrogen-powered electric motor uses as much as 80 percent. Energy. Half of that is admittedly used to transform energy into electricity, but that still leaves efficiency at an impressive 40 percent.

Obstacles facing the development of the hydrogen fuel market

The hydrogen stations being set up across the continent appear to herald a new era of green cars. Skeptics, however, call for very cautious optimism. Indeed, there are quite a few challenges ahead for the hydrogen revolution to make an emission-free future more certain. First of all, the absolute majority (up to 96 percent) of hydrogen produced today is characterized as “gray.”

This means that it is created based on fossil fuels. So although hydrogen cars do not emit carbon dioxide, it is generated during the hydrogen production stage, a very energy-intensive process. Such “gray” hydrogen is more than twice as cheap as “green” hydrogen, but for every 1 kg of gas extracted, as much as 10 kg of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. The biggest contemporary challenge, then, is to develop methods for producing economically viable hydrogen using renewable energy sources. If successful by 2030. Achieve the targeted ceiling of 70 percent. global electricity from RES, the prospects for hydrogen propulsion are bound to improve.

The second major problem is the transportation and storage of hydrogen. Gas by itself is not energy efficient – only when crowded at very high pressure (350-700 bar) can the car be effectively charged. It takes approx. 8.33 kg of concentrated hydrogen. If it were uncompressed, a “full tank” would be enough to drive only 5 km. Because of this, transportation of gas is also difficult – Hydrogen stations, after all, need to be fed regularly.

Potential solutions include costly and time-consuming construction of special pipelines or transporting gas in liquefied form at -253°C. Unfortunately, the change of aggregate state itself is a process that consumes large amounts of energy. Of course, price realities are also not insignificant. Hydrogen cars are currently expensive and difficult to access, and refueling hydrogen is a considerable expense as well. It is more cost-effective for drivers to charge their cars with electricity. And it’s worth remembering that with the energy transition underway and electric cars may soon use energy created from renewable resources.

Hydrogen stations in Poland – where are they located?

The first hydrogen station in Poland was established at the initiative of the Polsat Plus Group and is private – it is used to power a fleet of Hyundai Nexo cars imported from Germany. So far, only one hydrogen model is available for purchase in the country – the Toyota Mirai. Not surprisingly, according to Elektromobilni.co.uk, at the end of August 2023. There were 203 hydrogen-powered vehicles nationwide, 10 of which were buses.

The first commercialH2 station opened in Warsaw at ul. Tango. It is owned by operator NESO, which is owned by Polsat Plus Group and ZE PAK. The brand’s name hides an environmental message: “I don’t emit fumes, I clean up.” As of November 2023, there are still active NESO hydrogen stations in the country: in Rybnik and Solec Kujawski (non-commercial), one ZE PAK station in Konin, and twoH2 stations owned by Orlen – in Krakow and Poznan. The current price of hydrogen is at PLN 69 per kg.

hydrogen stations
Fig. 1 Location of existing and planned hydrogen stations in Poland. Prepared by: Monika Mazur

Development plans

European Union in 2021. adopted the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR), which is part of the Fit For 55 package, an initiative to achieve a 55 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. By 2023. The AFIR obliges EU member states to develop their infrastructure in such a way that hydrogen stations are distributed every 200 kilometers at all urban transport hubs and along the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). This summer. there were 178 stations throughout Europe, the absolute majority of which were located in Germany (96), followed by France (21) and the Netherlands (14). In doing so, the network is constantly being expanded. What is the situation in Poland in this regard? To meet the requirements of the AFIR regulation, 37 stations are planned.

Government in 2021. Adopted the Polish Hydrogen Strategy to 2030 with an Outlook to 2040. One of its six goals is to use hydrogen as a fuel for transportation. The measures envision that in 2025. the country will already have at least 32 hydrogen stations and 100-250H2-powered buses. At the same time, the PSW assumes that by 2025. The capacity of the low-carbon hydrogen plant will reach 5 MW, and by 2023. Even 2 GW.

By June 2024. More hydrogen stations are planned to be launched in Gdansk, Gdynia, Katowice, Swierklaniec, Wroclaw, Tychy, Walbrzych, Lublin, Rzeszow, Nowa Sarzyna and Gaj Olawski. Their cost is estimated at PLN 54.7 million, of which as much as PLN 20 million will be covered by the National Environmental Protection and Water Management Fund. In addition, Orlen (in a 7-year timeframe) wants to build as many as 57H2 stations across the country, plus 28 stations in the Czech Republic and 26 in Slovakia. So it is quite possible that soon an eco-friendly hydrogen car will be able to boldly go skiing in our southern neighbors.

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