The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government has announced Australia’s first public hydrogen filling station will open in December 2019.

Implemented to support the ACT government’s 20-strong fleet of Hyundai NEXO hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), the new filling station is a joint-venture between the ACT government, French renewable energy company Neoen, Korean car-maker Hyundai and energy supplier ActewAGL.

As well as the Hyundai NEXO fleet, the new hydrogen pump will be available for use by the general public, and is a significant first step towards wider mainstream acceptance of hydrogen vehicles by new-car buyers.

The filling station will allow hydrogen FCEVs like the Hyundai Nexo and Toyota Mirai to fill up in roughly the same time it takes to fill a conventional-engined car with petrol.

To be located at ActewAGL’s compressed natural gas station in Fyshwick, the hydrogen filling station is part of the ACT’s pledge to make half its passenger car fleet zero-emission by 2020.

More hydrogen-powered FCEVs are coming to Australia, with Chinese auto-maker Grove stating its intention to bring FCEV commercial vehicles Down Under by 2021. The Asian car-maker has teamed up with Sydney-based company ClickDrive to distribute the vehicles in Australia and New Zealand.

While many car-makers, such as Volkswagen, are investing heavily in battery-electric tech, Hyundai believes hydrogen will become the dominant alternative fuel, investing a staggering $9 billion dollars into FCEV research and development.

Now one of the leaders in hydrogen FCEV tech, Hyundai built around 3000 hydrogen-powered vehicles in 2018 but claims it will manufacture around 700,000 FCEVs per annum by 2030.

The benefits of FCEV vehicles include zero harmful tailpipe emissions and longer ranges than standard battery EVs; the Hyundai NEXO can cover about 600km between refills and Grove reckons its cars will offer 1000km. Fast refueling times are also a benefit.

Apart from generating their own electricity, FCEVs operate the same way as EVs. They typically have one gear and high levels of torque thanks to one or more electric motors driving the wheels.

Hydrogen fuel pump infrastructure is still in its infancy in Australia, where there are only a couple of private filling stations, one of which is owned by Hyundai.

However, Toyota Australia has committed to building a hydrogen fuel pump in Melbourne, while gas, water and electricity provider Jemena will construct one in Sydney.

There are other hydrogen fuel stations in the pipeline, including one being constructed by the Moreland Council in Victoria, while the South Australian government is working on a proposal for a fleet of hydrogen buses.

Public access to the ACT’s new filling station is the first step towards a zero-emissions future, said Hydrogen Mobility Australia CEO, Claire Johnson, who added that Australia is in a unique position to become a global supplier of the alternative fuel.

“Hydrogen applications, including vehicles are being supported by governments globally to meet their climate, energy and economic goals.

“With Australia a potential supplier of this hydrogen to the world, it is excellent to see governments here stepping up to support local initiatives and assist the development of a domestic hydrogen sector.”

There’s a long way to go before hydrogen filling stations are as commonplace as petrol or diesel bowsers, but the objective of the National Hydrogen Strategy — an initiative drawn up by the coalition of Australian state governments (COAG) — is to have hydrogen filling stations in every state and territory.

Extracted from