The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany, has awarded €20m ($21.85m) to five companies for the construction of seven new hydrogen refuelling stations (HRSs) for trucks.

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The average funding for each new HRS facility is €2.85m, with each operator expected to contribute at least 30% of the capital costs from its own coffers.

Each HRS must have a daily refuelling capacity of at least 1,000kg that will later be expanded to 2,000kg at a later date. At least 50% of the hydrogen dispensed must be green by 2027, and 100% renewable by 2029, according to federal government regulations.

There are already eight HRSs for trucks in the heavily populated west German state, which claims to be the number-one industrial region in the country and includes cities such as Cologne, Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Bonn, Essen and Duisburg.

NRW’s economics and climate minister Mona Neubaur, of the Greens, said that a comprehensive network of hydrogen filling stations was needed to ensure trucks could run on “emission-free” H2.

“Hydrogen is an important building block for climate-neutral heavy goods traffic in North Rhine-Westphalia: Hydrogen trucks have long ranges and short refueling times. In this way, we ensure the competitiveness of logistics companies and freight forwarders,” she said.

“In order to be able to rely on emission-free drives in heavy freight transport in the future, we have to create the conditions now. To achieve this, the development of the hydrogen infrastructure must be significantly accelerated.

“With our funding we are creating an important incentive for the expansion of the urgently needed gas station network in North Rhine-Westphalia.”

The winners of the funding (and the locations of their HRSs) were as follows:

  • Air Products (Duisburg and Meckenheim)
  • E.ON (Essen)
  • H2 Mobility Deutschland (Bielefeld)
  • Krimphoff & Schulte (Rheine)
  • Mint Hydrogen Germany (Hagen and Lippstadt)

Commissioning must take place within two years, and the filling station must be in operation for at least six years.

NRW has a goal of having about 200 HRSs across the state by 2030. It currently has 18 in operation, with another two under construction.

Under the EU’s Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation, passed last year, member states must install hydrogen refuelling stations of heavy-duty and light vehicles every 200km along the core routes of the planned Trans-European Transport Network, and in every “urban node” — an EU term for 424 major cities in the bloc with ports, airports and rail terminals — by 2030.

Only 644 new fuel-cell vehicles were registered in the EU in 2023, according to previously published Hydrogen Insight calculations.