Nikola, the US developer of battery and fuel cell trucks and the European trucking specialist Iveco, have signed a memorandum of understanding with the transmission system operator OGE (Open Grid Europe).
The partners are planning a business model for the pipeline-based transport of hydrogen for H2 fuel cell trucks from various production sites to hydrogen filling stations in Germany.
There are no concrete expansion targets and timetables yet, but these are now to be worked out as a result of the signed declaration of intent. Iveco says that now that the MoU has been signed, the three parties intend to define and formalise their roles and the necessary organisational structure to “enable execution of objectives to be stated in definitive agreements.”
Although the trio does not yet have further information on the technical data of the filling stations and supply lines, Nikola says that the overall objective of the collaboration is: “to establish a business structure for transporting hydrogen via pipeline network from production sources to hydrogen fueling stations in support of fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) “. The three companies say they are committed to the development of the hydrogen economy and will focus on H2 refuelling and distribution infrastructure for commercial truck owners “safely, reliably and economically.”
For the transport of the H2, OGE has a gas pipeline network of around 12,000 kilometres in Germany. This is already partly used for consumption in Germany, and partly also as a connector for gas flows in the European domestic market. Thomas Hüwener, OGE technical director confirmed that OGE wants to build a pipeline infrastructure for hydrogen transport that he says will extend from the production sites to the important network exit points.
Gerrit Marx, President Commercial & Specialty Vehicles, CNH Industrial explains that, in his view, that current business models along the value chain will change with the introduction of hydrogen and battery-powered heavy-duty trucks. “Our collaboration is a great first step in starting up a growing platform of partnerships to make this a reality here in Europe, which requires entrepreneurial and non-linear thinking across fossil industrial structures,” he says.
Nikola and Iveco are linked via the joint major investor CNH Industrial and are working together in Europe on the development of battery and fuel cell trucks based on Iveco chassis. The Nikola Tre, for example, is to be built at Iveco’s plant in Ulm, Germany.
In the US, Nikola is pushing ahead with the expansion of a hydrogen filling station network, including hydrogen production itself – the company has already ordered electrolysers from Nel. “Nikola is committed to delivering and advancing industry-leading hydrogen production, distribution and supply,” said Nikola’s President of Energy and Commercial Pablo Koziner. “We believe this collaboration, in particular, presents a very compelling long-term fueling distribution solution that we expect to advance industry and overall market adoption of FCEV technologies.”