US government schedules national hydrogen refuelling station roll-out from 2027




National Zero-Emission Freight Corridor Strategy foresees 'ubiquitous' access to H2 filling stations and electric chargepoints by 2040


The Biden administration has published its National Zero-Emission Freight Corridor Strategy to support the decarbonisation of medium- and heavy-duty trucks — with an eye toward “ubiquitous and convenient” access to hydrogen refuelling stations and electric chargepoints by 2040.


However, the first phase of the strategy, due to run between this year and 2027, will only focus on deploying “first-mover” battery-electric fleets at key freight hubs and building out infrastructure along 12,000 miles (19,312km) of road — 23% of the national highway freight network.


Hydrogen is only expected to start playing a role from 2027 in the second three-year phase, wherein zero-emission freight corridors start to go past the hubs identified in phase one to cover 36% of the national highway freight network.


The strategy notes that this is when the Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs are expected to start construction and produce their first volumes of H2, with the first refuelling stations likely to be located near production centres.


However, up to 2030, for non-tractor-trailer trucks, “activity likely remains battery-EV-dominant, with early introduction of hydrogen fuel cell electric truck technology for longer-distance travel”.


The third phase, running between 2030 and 2035, is when the strategy expects “both battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell truck technology are prevalent, with increased access to hydrogen refueling along freight corridors”. This phase would also see a major roll-out of refuelling and charging infrastructure along 72% of the national highway freight network.


By 2040, the US government plans for zero-emission freight corridors to cover 94% of the national highway freight network in the final phase, with the strategy noting that from 2035, projects in the Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs are expected to reach full production capacity.


However, the strategy has not set out specific targets for how many hydrogen refuelling stations or chargepoints will be installed in the zero-emission freight corridors, or in total across the US by 2040.


The move is similar to the one made by the EU last year, when it passed the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) — which mandates the 27 member states to ensure that publicly accessible gaseous H2 filling stations capable of serving both heavy-duty and light vehicles are set up in every “urban node” and every 200km along the core routes of the planned Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) by 2030.


Currently, California is the only state in the US to host any publicly available hydrogen refuelling stations, given its many years of generous subsidies towards H2 road transport.


However, the state has also seen a long-running hydrogen supply crunch, which has led the price of H2 fuel to skyrocket. Shell cited these “supply complications and other external market factors” in its recent decision to shut down or divest from all seven of its light-duty stations.



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