French oil major TotalEnergies and industrial gases firm Air Liquide have today announced the formal launch of their 50-50 joint venture (JV) for hydrogen refuelling, Teal Mobility.
The new company plans to have 20 stations up and running by the end of this year and already lists 15 incumbent Total hydrogen refuelling stations on its website.
Teal Mobility aims to build out 100 H2 filling stations over the next ten years to serve heavy-duty fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) — as the two companies stated almost a year ago when they first announced plans for the JV.
While the market for hydrogen passenger cars has been on the downturn in Europe, with its largest market Germany seeing nearly 70% fewer registrations in 2023 than the year before, H2 is widely expected to play a major role in decarbonising trucks.
These vehicles are considered difficult to electrify, since they need to travel a longer distance between stops and refuel quicker than most batteries today can accommodate. Batteries can also add to the weight of the truck and reduce payload, but some industry observers believe that fully electric trucks will eventually become the mainstay of the road freight sector due to cheaper running costs.
In the short term, trucking firms in Europe have been hesitant to buy FCEVs, partly because hydrogen refuelling infrastructure is extremely limited, and partly because operating costs are still lower with diesel vehicles.
The EU passed its Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation last year, which mandates 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. This is expected to result in hundreds of new stations being installed across Europe.
Teal Mobility specifies on its website that its hydrogen refuelling sites will be “located on major European corridors (TEN-T)”.
The joint venture also appears to suggest it will supply both green and blue hydrogen, noting that its name represents a blend of “the most sought-after colors of hydrogen”. It is also an acronym of the two companies’ names.
While the EU has strictly legislated on green H2, with targets and subsidies currently specifying the use of “renewable fuels of non-biological origin” as defined in the delegated acts, it has not yet set out any further policy on the use of low-carbon hydrogen.
However, blue H2 produced from natural gas with carbon capture and storage is generally predicted to be cheaper than green in the short term, while still theoretically contributing to emissions reduction if upstream methane leakage is low.
Hydrogen Insight has reached out to Teal Mobility to confirm whether green and blue hydrogen will be clearly differentiated in supply to customers.
TotalEnergies and Air Liquide are also two of the founding companies behind H2 Mobility, a German refuelling station operator.