By 2030, Sweden’s transport sector will be fossil-independent. Interest in hydrogen technology is growing in the sector – not only in relation to road transport, but also when it comes to aviation, rail and shipping.
Hydrogen technology has been identified as a key factor in the transition to a climate-neutral society with a fossil-free transport sector. Maria Rovik, Vice President Electrification and reliability at RISE, testifies to strong and growing interest.
– “Heavy vehicles are the most interesting area. They require large volumes of fuel, which will make filling stations profitable more quickly. This relates to road transport vehicles, work vehicles, shipping, aviation and rail,” she says.
– “We can already see that it pays to run trains on non-electrified tracks using hydrogen, rather than electrifying them with power lines.”
Hydrogen the solution for work vehicles
Work vehicles are another hot area in the transport sector. They require a large amount of energy when working, and are often running 24 hours a day.
– “Batteries are becoming too heavy in some of these vehicles. Hydrogen is the solution for sustainable operation,” says Maria Rovik.
– “Aviation and shipping are also areas of interest. Liquid hydrogen is relevant here, while in the rest of the transport sector we are looking at both liquid and compressed gas.”
It is necessary for the entire system to be in place – product, vehicle, infrastructure, regulations and business model
Clean technology with long range
Maria Rovik explains that demo versions can be found in all transport areas, although she believes that developments will be driven by trucks and other heavy vehicles or machines. Thanks to Sweden’s well-developed domestic trucking industry, hydrogen technology can be used across a broad front in this transport area.
The great advantage of using hydrogen for transport is that the technology is completely clean. The only thing that comes out of the exhaust pipe is water vapor. It also offers a long range and refuelling can be performed quickly.
However, Maria Rovik is keen to emphasise that battery-powered electric cars and hydrogen fuel cells do not stand in opposition to each other. It is important to analyse and evaluate the best technology for each vehicle. It can also be advantageous to combine the two technologies in a single vehicle, as this reduces wear on both the battery and the fuel cells.
However, it is not sufficient for technological developments to simply move forward, as more needs to be done.
– “It is necessary for the entire system to be in place – product, vehicle, infrastructure, regulations and business model,” says Maria Rovik.
Sweden needs to act fast
In this respect, it is important for Sweden to act quickly as a country. Although Sweden has world-leading projects and stakeholders, other countries have been working on the hydrogen issue for longer and we are generally lagging behind. It is important to bear in mind that hydrogen technology creates new domestic jobs and that, if we are left behind, Sweden as a country risks becoming dependent on imports.
– “Sweden needs a plan for infrastructure and the expansion of hydrogen-powered transport, and it is important to act now,” Maria Rovik emphasises.
– “That fossil fuels will be phased out is not up for debate, and at that time we must be able to cope with the transition, both for our own welfare and for the sake of the environment. Having domestic production of hydrogen will benefit both GDP and jobs, there will be a reduced need for imports and money will remain in Sweden.”
Supporting the required transition
RISE is supporting industry and society in the required transition. We possess wide-ranging expertise in terms of research and development, as well as regarding advice and training.
– “We support our partners, no matter where they are in the development process,” says Maria Rovik.