Hydrogen on the road

March 30, 2007, 10:30 CEST

Statoil's two hydrogen-fuelled cars were fitted with 'HY' (hydrogen) numberplates by Liv Signe Navarsete, the Norwegian transport minister, on Thursday 29 March. The cars can now be legally driven on European roads.

"These are the first approved cars of their kind in Norway," says Brage Wårheim Johansen, who heads the hydrogen entity in the new energy business unit.

"This is an important approval and a recognition that they are just as safe as conventional ones."

The cars are one of the elements in the national HyNor project. The project will make driving a hydrogen-fuelled vehicle between Stavanger and Oslo possible by 2009. In August 2006 Statoil opened its first hydrogen pump at its Forus service station near Stavanger.

Statoil's two hydrogen-fuelled cars will be linked in with the Forus HyNor station. In June, nine new cars will be linked in with a new HyNor filling station at Grønland, eastern Norway. Moreover, two hydrogen-fuelled cars will become part of the Hytrec research centre's filling station in Trondheim next year.

The Norwegian transport minister took the newly-approved car out for a spin, along with a television team from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). (Photo: Cato Buch/Zero)

"I want to contribute to a focus on hydrogen as an alternative, future-oriented and environment-friendly motor fuel," said Ms Navarsete.

"As part of this initiative, I want to make the most environment-friendly hydrogen-fuelled vehicles more visible. This is why I want these cars to have the abbreviation 'HY' as part of the numberplate character combination."

Ms Navarsete will now propose changes to traffic regulations to allow all hydrogen-fuelled cars use of public transport lanes.

Hydrogen-fuelled cars and filling stations mean that hydrogen is finding its place in the Norwegian motor fuel market. The way forwards to the big breakthrough is nonetheless some way off, Brage Wårheim Johansen emphasises.

"New technology must be developed to make hydrogen fuel cells more efficient in car engines," says Mr Johansen.

Hydrogen as a fuel is produced without harmful emissions. Burning of hydrogen in car engines produces only water.