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Whether electric or hydrogen - there is a lack of infrastructure

Hydrogen vehicles are popular in California. At the filling stations, however, this leads to waiting times of about 45 minutes. Similar to the situation with e-cars in Europe, the infrastructure is not keeping up and is slowing down the mobility turnaround.

Many people are still reluctant to buy an e-car. Among other reasons, this is because the charging network is not yet reliable enough to guarantee a carefree journey within Germany or across Europe.

There is now a similar problem with hydrogen cars. In California, vehicles with the alternative drive are popular, partly because the subsidies from the manufacturers and the state are high. When you buy a Toyota Mirai, you get a 5,000 US dollar Toyota rebate, 7,500 US dollars in state subsidies and a fuel card worth 15,000 US dollars.

But the hydrogen filling stations are not up to the rush. While refuelling often takes only a few minutes, the pressure in the column must first be built up again after a refuelling process before the next refuelling process can start. This process, which raises the pressure to 700 bar, takes about 36 minutes. If a lorry or bus has been refuelled beforehand and not a car, the pressure in the pump drops to such an extent that you have to wait an unimaginable 360 minutes until the pump is ready for the next refuelling.

More fuel pumps would solve the problem, but the installation costs are very expensive at around 1 million euros. Transport and storage are also difficult with hydrogen. It cannot be transported via pipelines because the gas would escape at the valves and damage the pipes. Therefore, it has to be delivered in thick-walled trucks.

So the logistics and infrastructure for hydrogen are just as complicated as for electric cars, albeit for different reasons. New concepts such as so-called power paste, which stores hydrogen in the form of a grey paste and releases it from a small cartridge inside the vehicle, are already being researched and could solve the problem. However, it will be some time before novel approaches change the market.

So the technology of alternative drive systems for electric and hydrogen vehicles continues to be researched. More and more of these vehicles are on the roads, partly because of the high subsidies. But these often lead to hype for which the infrastructure is not prepared. Therefore, not only the vehicles, but the entire concepts must be further developed and expanded so that diesel and petrol vehicles can be replaced by the new types of drive in the near future.  

This is the only way to pave the way for green mobility.