"Toyota is committed to fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) technology as a powertrainfor the future because it's a clean, scalable platform that can meet a broad range ofmobility needs with zero emissions," said Bob Carter, Executive Vice President forAutomotive Operations Toyota. "The ZANZEFF collaboration and the innovative 'Shore-to Store' project allow us to move heavy-duty truck fuel cell electrictechnology towards commercialisation."
The advantage of hydrogen fuel cell trucks over battery-powered, Zenyuk notes, is that there is "almost no payload reduction due to the weight of the fuel cell system,compared to one-third of payload reduction if batteries power trucks. Therecharging time is five minutes, and the process is comparable to ICE." Conversely, it can take between 60 minutes and eight hours to recharge a battery electric vehicle (BEV), according to NGO Transport and Environment.
Investing in infrastructure
Nevertheless, a challenge for implementing hydrogen across the freight sector is the lack of refuelling infrastructure. "We have some of it to connect the north and south of California, so fuel cell trucks are possible there but not in the entire US," highlights Zenyuk. "Biden's Infrastructure Bill allocated US$7bn for regional hydrogen hubs, and that will develop this infrastructure. Therefore, it shouldn't be an issue in the next five years." The 2021 Bill is a package that consists of more than US$1tr of public infrastructure spending. The legislation will put US$110bn into roads, bridges and other major projects and invest US$66bn across freight and passenger rail.
Similarly, to help jump-start the production and use of clean hydrogen, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of November 2021 provided US$8bn for theUS Department of Energy to fund a set of hydrogen hubs (H2Hubs).
However, the cost of hydrogen trucks remains higher than that of ICEs. According to AVL, the total cost of ownership (TCO) for a Class 8 truck after a five-year periodoperating is estimated at €759,000 (US$805,000) for diesel operating trucks,€851,000 for H2 high pressure direct injection (HPDI) and €102m for FCEV. H2 HPDI combines the technology of hydrogen and ICEs, coming together with the aim of CO2 reduction, increased power and torque, and cheaper TCO.
Comparatively, for smaller regional deliveries of up to 400km, Transport &Environment has analysed the TCO of an FCEV at €459,000 and €393,000 for BEV.It is forecasted that by 2030, the prices will drop to €319,000 and €256,000, respectively. According to the International Transport Forum in its Decarbonising Europe's Trucks
report, higher lifetime costs for FCEVs compared to BEVs and ICEs are almost exclusively due to higher fuel costs, which in turn are due to energy losses associated with electrolysis.
Electric freight could soon become more of frequent sight in cities as TCO decreases
"This is partially because economies of scale have not kicked in yet, but the projections for reduction are there," says Zenyuk. "The cost of hydrogen fuel will besubsidised under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) law, so we should not have anissue with it." The IRA of August 2022 is a landmark US federal law aiming to curbinfl ation by investing in domestic energy production while promoting clean energy. One of its proposals introduces a ten-year production tax credit for "clean hydrogen" with a corresponding option to claim the investment tax credit.
The emissions rate also affects the number of available credits. According to Resources Magazine, the credit amount equals US$0.60 per kilogram if the facilityproduces qualified clean hydrogen that results in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of less than 0.45 kilograms of CO2e per kilogram of hydrogen. If the CO2e level is between 0.45 kilograms and 4 kilograms, the credit is available but at a lower credit rate. The IRA increases the highest rate of the tax credit to US$85 per metric tonne of CO2 captured and geologically sequestered. The regulation likewise increases the credit for utilised carbon, such as for enhanced oil recovery, to US$60 per tonne.
Although these subsidies could significantly impact the uptake of hydrogen freight vehicles, there are even further regulations pushing the sector towards the option of hydrogen or electric. In California alone, transportation is responsible for approximately 50% of greenhouse gas emissions (when accounting for fuel production emissions) and 80% of air pollutants. Therefore, it's not surprising that CARB ruled in 2022 that all new cars and light trucks sold in California will be zero-emissions from 2035. New York and 15 other states are following its lead and gearing up for a similar ban by the same year, by which time all new passenger cars, pick-ups and SUVs sold must be zero emissions. The regulation, which will be effective in all states that have followed it, requires 35% of sales in the model year 2026 to be zero-emission vehicles, 68% of sales by 2030 and 100% of sales by 2035.
In the lead-up to 2030, Zenyuk notes this could prove pivotal in pushing forward the electrification of freight: "The legislation/regulations in California banning ICE inlight-duty vehicles and other regulations will only help to push the electrification further."
As such, she foresees significant development of hydrogen refuelling stations in the US to push forward a combination of hydrogen and electric vehicles: "Ultimately, these developments will enable trucking across all the major highway corridors, so infrastructure can only help the electrification of freight in the long term."