It is now possible to hail a hydrogen-powered taxi on the streets of Copenhagen. The environmentally friendly taxis are part of the government’s strategy that all new taxis in Denmark will be zero emissions vehicles by 2025 and the EU wide push to accelerate the development of hydrogen technology.
The first wave of hydrogen-powered taxis are now cruising the streets of Copenhagen. The taxi company DRIVR has invested in eight new, environmentally sustainable taxis, which were launched at a ceremony attended by the Danish Minister for Transport, Building and Housing in Refshaleøen, a new innovative quarter in Copenhagen.
The taxis have been made possible with support from the Danish Ministry for Tranport, Building and Housing and the H2ME project, which falls under the auspices of the European Union financed Horizon 2020 initiative, the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking. Known as FCH 2 JU, the initiative aims to accelerate the market entry of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies. More specifically, the H2ME project, which received EUR 32 million in funding and commenced in 2015, is working towards increasing the number of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) operating on Europe’s roads. It seeks to place large numbers of vehicles with drivers who will use them for regular day-to-day activities and help develop early networks of refuelling stations to prepare the market for the commercial introduction of zero emission vehicles over the coming years. With over 300 vehicles and 29 state of the art refuelling stations being deployed, the project will result in the creation of a pan-European hydrogen fuelling station network. Currently, Scandinavian countries are European leaders in having country-wide hydrogen refueling networks.
In Denmark, the Danish government has a strategy that all new taxis in Copenhagen will be zero emissions vehicles by 2025. At the same time, the government will tighten requirements for new taxis in the coming years, with the result that now new taxis will emit CO2 or pollute by 2025, with the result that the environmentally friendly conversion of the taxi industry will be completed by 2030.
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Hydrogen Denmark hosted the launch of the taxis in collaboration with Toyota Denmark and the CEO of Toyota Denmark, Frank Okoisor, officially presented DRIVR’s CEO, Haydar Shaiwandi, with the keys to the taxis. These new taxis are the Toyota model Mirai and Hydrogen Denmark and Toyota are partners in the European H2ME initiative.
After having gone for a spin in the new taxis, the Danish Minister for Transport, Building and Housing, Ole Birk Olesen commented, “Taxis often drive in dense population areas, where they expose a lot of people to a significant amount of air pollution. That is why we are increasing the requirements for taxis so we can reduce the considerable negative climate and environmental impact while preserving a part of our public transportation that is in high demand” and then hopped back into the taxi to resume his duties at the Danish Parliament.
“The transitioning of the transport sector is imperative in successfully combating fossil dependency and air pollution. In addition, the conversion of the taxi sector is a great addition to the many green initiatives taking place in Denmark”, says CEO of Hydrogen Denmark, Tejs Laustsen Jensen and continues: “Taxis are in constant motion and FCEV technology is the perfect alternative to traditional fossil fuels because it provides the same range and mobility with none of the damaging emissions.” Tejs Laustsen Jensen also emphasizes the importance of the visibility of the new taxis: “During the day many people will ride in these FCEV taxis and many more will see them in the streets. This access will increase the knowledge and recognition of FCEVs, which can play a contributing role in the future deployment of FCEVs in Denmark.” The Executive Director at the FCH JU, Bart Biebuyck, also considers these new FCEV taxis an important step in the right direction for the transport sector: “Hydrogen taxis are becoming increasingly popular in European capitals thanks to the FCH JU funded projects such as the H2ME-initiatives. Hydrogen is the ideal fuel for taxis due to the long driving range, and a short refill time of about 3 minutes. Moreover, hydrogen-powered vehicles have no emissions except water vapour, which make them an ideal solution for reducing traffic pollution in the cities. I hope that we soon will see many more of them in Denmark and in Europe.”
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Why hydrogen-powered vehicles?
FCEVs or hydrogen-powered vehicles can make huge inroads to achieving carbon neutrality in the transport sector. A key benefit of hydrogen is that it can be produced locally and effectively using excess energy generated via wind or sun that is not immediately needed for the power grid – for example during off peak times. The hydrogen is then safely stored and distributed for future use. The process makes renewably sourced hydrogen available to meet the demand from the industrial and transportation sectors. Using hydrogen to power urban transport can help increase urban quality of life, sharply reducing local pollutants and noise. On a macro level, it can mitigate global warming, lowering global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reduce reliance on fuel imports if the hydrogen is produced locally. The fact that hydrogen can be stored and has short refueling times increases its attractiveness.
Photo: Pamela Juhl. Taken from Hydrogen Denmark’s website