Earlier this month, hydrogen mobility and clean energy company, HYZON Motors, and Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures, the venture capital arm of European energy giant Total SE, announced a strategic investment led by Total and other specialist hydrogen investors. As part of Total's ambition to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 together with society, Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures is focused on finding, funding and fostering technology and solutions that contribute to creating a low carbon future.
Hyzon Motors is a global supplier of hydrogen fuel cell-powered commercial vehicles, including heavy duty trucks, buses and coaches. Established as a spin-off from Singapore-headquartered Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies Pte Ltd, Hyzon commercializes Horizon’s 17 years of hydrogen technology development for applications in the transportation sector.
Hyzon's founding team has been "fully focused on developing our own proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology, the ‘engine’ of any hydrogen-powered vehicle, with the aim of producing the world’s most advanced fuel cell and the world’s most powerful yet cleanest heavy vehicles. While we already have around 400 buses and trucks on the road with our fuel cells today, the global appetite for zero-emission heavy vehicles has grown significantly and Hyzon is now ramping operations to meet this demand,” says Hyzon Motors CEO Craig Knight.
Hyzon also expanded its existing operations in 2020 by opening a new US headquarters and Engineering Center at the former General Motors fuel cell facility in Honeoye Falls, New York. With production facilities in North America, Europe and Asia, Hyzon expects to deliver around 5,000 fuel cell trucks and buses over the next three years. By 2025, Hyzon’s expected turn-key capacity will be more than 40,000 fuel cell vehicles annually.
Of course, reaching that goal means overcoming some sizable challenges. Specifically, the initial high cost of fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen infrastructure, Hyzon Motors CEO Craig Knight tells IndustryWeek. “Fuel cell trucks need to be as competitive as diesel trucks and hydrogen needs to be as cheap as diesel,” he says. “Big truck companies forecast that it could be possible in 20-30 years. We can’t wait that long. We hope to shorten that to 5-7 years. It’s challenging but think about how much carbon emissions could be eliminated if we can achieve it.”
According to Knight, solving the chicken and egg problem facing the alternative fuel market requires efforts from both the public and private sectors. “From a policy perspective, it is important to monetize the environmental benefits of zero carbon hydrogen so green hydrogen can be more competitive than diesel,” says Knight. “For the private sector, it is critical to have technology breakthroughs and business model innovations to break the chicken and egg dilemma.”
But why hydrogen over the EVs that continue to gain attention? Simply, explains Knight. “Fuel cell vehicles are more suitable for heavy duty, long range or high utilization applications and battery electric vehicles are more for light duty, short range, and low utilization rate applications,” he says. “Battery heavy trucks suffer from the heavy weight and could lose as much as 20% load capacity, while fuel cell trucks would have much less or no weight penalty. Commercial vehicles are the best application for fuel cells.”