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Newsletter 06, June 2015

49th Executive Committee Meeting – Grenoble, France - December 2014

National updates from France and Japan

49th Executive Committee Meeting – Grenoble, France, December 2014

The 49th Executive Committee (ExCo) Meeting of the Implementing Agreement for a Programme of Research, Development and Demonstration on Advanced Fuel Cells (AFC IA) was held at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) research centre in Grenoble, France, on the 4 and 5 December 2014. The event was well attended with representatives coming from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and the US.

A welcome to all was given by Detlef Stolten, the AFC IA Chairman. An introduction and welcome to CEA and Grenoble was then given by Laurent Antoni, the meeting host. He highlighted that Forbes Magazine recently voted Grenoble as the fifth most important city in the world for innovation. CEA Grenoble has 1,400 employees, an annual turnover of EUR 170 million, and subsidiary sites in Washington and Tokyo.


CEA focuses on working with industry, with more than half of its budget coming from industry, a quarter from government and a considerable proportion from European projects. CEA invests about 25% of its annual budget in to scientific research and demonstration.

During the meeting, it was unanimously decided that Belgium would be invited to join the AFC IA as a full member with WaterstofNet as the contracting party and that VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd (VTT) would be invited to join as a sponsoring organisation.

Dr Fabio Matera of ITAE has taken over as Operating Agent for Annex 35 (Fuel Cells for Portable Applications) and Dr Stephen McPhail from the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) joins as the new Alternate Representative for Italy.

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National update: France

Presented by Dr Laurent Antoni of CEA

Interest in hydrogen and sustainable transport from French politicians increased greatly during 2014. The French parliament recently voted new legislation to include hydrogen as a possible energy storage mechanism for renewable energies and set new energy targets for hydrogen, biofuels and biogas in the transport sector. This political interest is reflected in an increasing number of storage initiatives in the stationary and transport sectors.

There have been a large number of fuel cell demonstration projects funded by the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management (ADEME) including:

  • Fuel cell forklifts for IKEA. Air Liquide provided a 35MPa (350bar) hydrogen filling station to IKEA's logistics platform near Lyon to supply around 20 hydrogen fuelled forklift trucks produced by HyPulsion.
  • A hybrid boat shuttle in Nantes is due to start operating on the river Erdre. The boat runs on two fuel cells and solar photovoltaic (PV) energy to minimise the environmental impact of the river crossing.
  • Dunkerque has around 50 buses fuelled by Hythane. Hythane is generated by blending hydrogen produced from surplus electricity from wind farms with natural gas. In this way, it is possible to reduce the environmental impact of buses and the process also helps reduce waste by recycling excess energy.
  • La Poste has acquired three new Renault Kangoo Z.E. fitted with a Symbio FCell hydrogen Range-Extender.
  • The HyWay Project, developing 50 electric vehicles with hydrogen fuel cell range extenders and providing two hydrogen filling stations, as described below.

In October 2014, Renault delivered the 5,000th fully electric Kangoo Z.E. to La Poste, which will be part of a fleet of about 25,000 electric vehicles including quads, three-wheelers and electrically assisted bicycles used by the French postal service. Building on the experience gained from this deployment and cooperation, Renault has a programme to improve the range of these vehicles by installing a 5kW Symbio FCell hydrogen Range-Extender that is expected to double the usable range of the delivery vehicles (Figure 1 ). The result is the HyKangoo which, with a full battery charge and 1.72kg of compressed hydrogen on board, has an autonomy of 320 km (200 miles). Currently, up to 70% of La Poste’s fleet cover more than 97 km (60 miles) a day, so the benefits of fitting the electric cars with hydrogen range extenders is considerable.

The HyWay project in France aims to fit range extenders to a fleet of 50 utility vehicles and construct hydrogen filling stations in Lyon and Grenoble in early 2015. The project is being led by the Grenoble-based Tenerrdis energy cluster, and is backed by the Rhône-Alpes regional government and ADEME.

Figure 1: Kangoo Z.E. being used by La Poste
with a 5kW Symbio FCell Range Extender for increased vehicle autonomy (Source: La Poste)

The vehicles used will be the HyKangoo and will be in service for at least 18 months to assess their performance and usability, and the filling stations. The companies and institutions involved in this project are CEA, Air Liquide, Italian National Research Council (CNR), Gaz Electricité de Grenoble (GEG), McPhy Energy, PUS (COFELY Services), STEF and Symbio FCell.

This area has very recently seen the further development between La Poste and Renault Trucks of an electric 4.5 ton Maxity Electric truck that also has a Symbio FCell hydrogen range extender, providing an autonomy of 200 km which is to be used by La Poste under actual operating conditions.

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National update: Japan

Presented by Mr Kenji Horiuchi of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO)

Since Japan launched the Ene-Farm domestic electricity and heat generating fuel cell products in May 2009, the number of installed fuel cell systems in the country has increased dramatically every year. As of March 2015, there were more than 113,000 domestic CHP units installed. It is estimated that up to 4,000 of these are domestic-scale solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) units.

The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy developed the Strategic Road Map for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in June 2014, confirming Japan’s focus on this technology sector. The aim of the roadmap is to realise a hydrogen society using fuel cells to achieve high energy efficiency and increase energy security. The strategy is divided into three phases and assumes a proactive collaboration between academia, government and industry to engage in measures for using hydrogen and fuel cells. The three phases are given below and in Figure 2.

  • Phase 1: Increasing the use of hydrogen by installing new stationary fuel cells and introducing fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).
  • Phase 2: Developing large-scale systems to supply hydrogen.
  • Phase 3: Establishing a zero-carbon emission hydrogen supply system throughout the manufacturing process.

Phases and actions of the Strategic Road Map for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells for Japan

Figure 2: Phases and actions of the Strategic Road Map for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells for Japan (Source: NEDO)

The ultimate goal of this strategy is to reduce Japan’s dependence on imported energy. Hydrogen is a resource that could enhance energy security and can be manufactured using renewable energy or using primary energy sources (e.g. unutilised energy resources such as by-product hydrogen, crude oil associated gas and lignite). Japan, in the global context, has a strong competitive advantage in the field of fuel cells. Due to this, it is forecast that the market scale for equipment and infrastructure businesses related to hydrogen and fuel cells will be worth approximately JPY 1 trillion by 2030 (nearly EUR 8 billion), increasing to JPY 8 trillion by 2050 (about EUR 61 billion).

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Annex 34: Fuel Cells for Transportation update

Presented by Dr Rajesh Ahluwalia of Argonne National Laboratory (ANL)

During the 49th ExCo Meeting, Dr Rajesh Ahluwalia gave an overview of the latest achievements for fuel cells in transport applications.

  • Hydrogen refuelling stations are being developed and demonstrated in increasing numbers in the US over the past few years. The Linde Group started the world's first small-series production facility for hydrogen fuelling stations in Vienna. Linde Group has also recently developed an ionic compressor technology that puts the company in a leading position in this sector. So far, 28 units have been ordered for Japan and the installation of the first retail hydrogen fuelling station in the US was completed in December 2014, in West Sacramento, California.
  • Fuel cell buses are providing fuel economies of up to twice that of baseline diesel buses. Fuel cell bus fuel economy is between around 4.5 miles and 7.3 miles per diesel gallon equivalent (1.6 km to 2.6 km per diesel litre equivalent) and it is expected to increase to 8 miles per diesel gallon equivalent (2.8 km per diesel litre equivalent) by 2016.


  • The technical performance of FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicles) has been demonstrated and commercialisation for a number of car companies has now started in selected markets. The Hyundai ix35 and the Toyota Mirai are now available with the Honda Clarity, Nissan Terra and Mercedes-Benz F-Cell.

Please note that Annex 26: Fuel Cells for Transportation was renumbered to Annex 34 in January 2015. The aims and purposes of the Annex remain unchanged and Dr Rajesh Ahluwalia is still the Operating Agent.

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Annex 30: Electrolysis

Presented by Dr Jürgen Mergel, of Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

The newly formed Annex 30: Electrolysis will focus on technology development, specifically the stack development and requirements for electrolysis. The work of the Annex will focus on three electrolysis technologies:

  • Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysis (electrodes, catalyst-coated membranes (CCMs), stacks, lifetime enhancement, test protocols, balance of plants, etc.).
  • Alkaline electrolysis including alkaline membrane electrolysis.
  • Solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC).

Electrochemical production of hydrogen by water electrolysis is a well-established technological process worldwide. If water electrolysis technology is to be widely and sustainably used on the mass market for the storage of renewable energy, further steps must be taken to solve outstanding technical issues. These include low power densities and inadequate stability, and the high manufacturing and operating costs associated with the technologies currently in use.

The dominant technologies at present in commercial installations are alkaline and PEM electrolysis (Figure 3). Alkaline membrane electrolysis and SOEC are in pre-commercial development in laboratories. SOEC development has profited from SOFC know-how, but further work is still required, especially with respect to the optimisation of electrode materials and improvement of long-term stability.

Comparison of alkaline  and PEM electrolysis technologies

Figure 3 : Comparison of alkaline and PEM electrolysis technologies (Source: J Mergel, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH)

Some of the technical challenges for near-term development that the Annex will investigate are improved stack performance, scale-up to megawatt size, grid integration and high-pressure operation. Stack performance in this sense includes improved membranes and catalysts. On the other hand, achieving megawatt scale-up will require a target 50% reduction on capital costs on a per kilowatt basis. Finally, when considering the improvement of durability of cell materials, it will be important to include a better understanding of degradation mechanisms.

By the end of the first year of operation, the Annex aims to have completed a review of the status and identification of the technical challenges of electrolysis and identified test procedures and degradation mechanisms for electrolysers.

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Fuel cell news

Hydrogenics to deliver a 1MW electrolyser to a European Consortium project in Germany.

Hydrogenics, a leading developer and manufacturer of hydrogen generation and hydrogen-based fuel cell power modules, announced in January 2015 that it will supply a 1MW electrolyser and provide engineering expertise to a consortium working on a EUR 11 million European project called 'MefCO2' in Essen, Germany. The electrolyser will be capable of producing 200m3 of hydrogen per hour, powered by excess electricity produced from intermittent renewable energy sources. The generated hydrogen, along with captured carbon dioxide (CO2) from an existing coal-fired power plant will be catalytically converted into methanol (CH3OH). This methanol can then be used as a low-carbon chemical feedstock for gasoline blending, biodiesel production and the manufacture of chemical derivatives.


US Department of Energy – Technology Validation Program

The aim of this program is to validate fuel cell systems in transportation and stationary applications, and hydrogen production, delivery and storage systems. The project has four main validation objectives with different timelines (Figure 4):

  • By 2017, to validate commercial stationary fuel cells against the 2015 system targets.
  • By 2017, to validate durability of auxiliary power units against the 2015 system targets.
  • By 2019, to validate FCEVs with a range of more than 480km (300 miles) and durability of 5,000 hours.
  • By 2019, to validate a hydrogen fuelling station capable of producing and dispensing 200 kg of hydrogen a day to cars and/or buses.

New investment in critical areas of  infrastructure to support upcoming FCEV commercialisation

Figure 4 : New investment in critical areas of infrastructure to support upcoming FCEV commercialisation (Source: U.S. Department of Energy)

A new budget of USD 6 million has been allocated by the US Government for this program. This budget will be invested in:

  • Obtaining light-duty fuel cell vehicle data from six auto manufacturers.
  • Two new projects that will develop and demonstrate fleets of medium-duty fuel cell hybrid electric trucks.
  • Evaluating nine hydrogen refuelling stations.
  • Investigating compressor reliability.
  • Testing cryogenic hydrogen pumps.
  • Developing high-pressure tube trailers.
  • Grid-integrated hydrogen stations.

New commercially available fuel cell vehicle from Toyota: Mirai

Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Sedan

Toyota launched its fuel cell vehicle in Toyota City, Japan on the 18 November 2014, the Toyota Mirai. This is the company’s flagship hydrogen fuel cell sedan. The Mirai features fuel cell and hybrid technology that is more efficient than internal combustion engines and is free of emissions at the point of use. The Mirai has a driving range of 650 km and boasts a hydrogen refuelling time of three minutes.

The fuel cell stack, which Toyota developed, achieves a maximum output of 114kW with a power output density of 3.1kW/litre. The Mirai has 122.4 litres of hydrogen stored on-board in two three-layered carbon fibre-reinforced plastic tanks at 70MPa (700bar). These tanks, 60 litres in the front and 62.4 litres in the back, are capable of storing hydrogen at a density of 5.7 weight%. All systems have been designed with safety as a top priority.

Figure 5: Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Sedan (Source: Toyota)

Vehicle sales for the Mirai started on the 15 December 2014 and Toyota forecasts that sales will reach 400 units in Japan by the end of 2015. The vehicles have gone on sale in Japan at a suggested retail price of JPY 7,236,000 (about EUR 54,000). Sales in the US and Europe are expected in mid-2015 at a suggested cost of EUR 66,000, depending on government subsidies and excluding local taxes.

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Join our work

We welcome new participants to our work at expert, company and country levels. Participants from IEA member countries ( may join the work of our Annexes, please contact the following people:

Annex 30: Electrolysis, Jürgen Mergel:
Annex 31: Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells, Dr Di-Jia (DJ) Liu:
Annex 32: Solid Oxide Fuel Cells, Dr Jari Kiviaho:
Annex 33: Fuel Cells for Stationary Applications, Bengt Ridell:
Annex 34: Fuel Cells for Transportation, Dr Rajesh Ahluwalia
Annex 35: Fuel Cells for Portable Applications, Dr Fabio Matera:
Annex 36: Systems Analysis, Dr Can Samsun:
Annex 37: Modelling of Fuel Cells Systems, Professor Dr Steven Beale:

If you are from a non-member country, please contact who would be delighted to discuss membership with you, either on a country basis or on a sponsorship basis. Please visit to see the benefits of joining our work.

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Special thanks

Special thanks to the following companies for their permission to use the pictures in this newsletter: La Poste and Toyota.

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