Canadian Manufacturing

International auto, oil giants launch hydrogen initiative

Toyota, Shell among major companies aiming to accelerate investment in hydrogen research and development



The Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle on the production line at the fuel cell stack installation stage. Toyota and Honda have invested significantly in hydrogen technology. PHOTO: Toyota

DAVOS, Switzerland—13 international companies have kicked off an initiative to promote hydrogen technology as part of the global clean energy mix.

Gathering for the first time at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the leaders of Japanese automakers Honda and Toyota met with the heads of Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Air Liquide and a number of other energy and automotive industry players.

Miner Anglo American, rail transport firm Alstom, chemical company Linde Group, French utility Engie along with automakers BMW Group, Daimler, Hyundai Motor, Kawasaki round out the “Hydrogen Council.”

Looking to accelerate investment and research and development efforts in the hydrogen sphere—from fuel cells to storage technologies—the council aims to rally governments around hydrogen.

“We need governments to back hydrogen with actions of their own―for example through large-scale infrastructure investment schemes,” Benoît Potier, CEO of Air Liquide, said in a statement. “Our call today to world leaders is to commit to hydrogen so that together we can meet our shared climate ambitions and give further traction to the emerging Hydrogen ecosystem.”

The renewed hydrogen effort comes as battery technology continues to advance—particularly within the auto industry. Despite the success of lithium-ion, many hydrogen advocates continue to champion fuel cells in larger vehicles such as trucks and buses, as well as regular cars.

Toyota chairman, Takeshi Uchiyamada, pointed to the automaker’s investment in fuel cell vehicles, but said hydrogen technology’s potential does not end with autos.

“We know that in addition to transportation, hydrogen has the potential to support our transition to a low carbon society across multiple industries and the entire value chain,” he said. “The Hydrogen Council aims to actively encourage this transition.”

The council noted their investment in hydrogen technology has reached an estimated 1.4 billion euro per year.

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