Hydrogen-powered cars will be on sale in Europe from 2015.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe, so it’s not surprising that car manufacturers have in recent years been developing ways of using it to turn wheels.

While turning this environmentally-friendly element into fuel hasn’t been too complicated, the problem is where to fill up hydrogen-powered cars, and Germany is now taking the lead in setting up a fuelling network.

With hydrogen production cars confirmed for introduction in Europe by 2015, the “H2 Mobility” initiative has been launched to deal with the anticipated demand. Six companies - Air Liquide, Daimler, Linde, OMV, Shell and Total - have formed a partnership for the construction of a nationwide hydrogen refuelling network in Germany.

The target is 400 hydrogen filling stations by 2023, with 100 stations over the next four years the short-term target.

Only 15 stations currently exist.

When the project is complete there should be more hydrogen filling stations across Germany than there are conventional petrol stations along the autobahns today.

The stations will be built in cities in 90km intervals on major motorways as well as rural areas, with the cost quoted at about €350 million (R4.76 billion).

The initiative is endorsed by the European Clean Energy Partnership - which tests fuel-cell electric vehicles and their refuelling – and has the support of the German government.

Carmakers which are working on hydrogen-powered vehicles, and are members of the CEP, include BMW, Daimler, Ford, GM/Opel, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, Volkswagen and Nissan.

It is believed that this initiative, combined with the production of fuel cell-powered electric vehicles, will make a considerable contribution in establishing Germany as a leading market for sustainable mobility solutions. - Star Motoring

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