On 22 April 2016, Annemie Turtelboom, Budget, Finance and Energy Minister for the Flemish Region, and two representatives of the European Commission — Magda Kopczynska for the Directorate-General for Transport and Robert Schröder for the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation — launched the first public hydrogen charging station in Belgium, located in Zaventem. The station, which has been designed, installed and operated by Air Liquide, marks the first use of hydrogen as a clean energy in Belgium.
The hydrogen station, which was built as part of the SWARM project (*), has been partly financed by the European Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking fund, a public/private partnership aiming to support the development of applications involving hydrogen energy. The station, which has been built on land provided by Toyota Motor Europe, connects Belgium to Europe's hydrogen network. The hydrogen is produced by electrolysis, a process that does not generate any CO2emissions and contributes to Air Liquide's Blue Hydrogen program. It could provide between 30 and 40 recharges daily in less than five minutes for an average range of 500 km.
The project has been brought to fruition by cooperation between all the partners, in both the private and public sector. It demonstrates the synergies possible within a strategic initiative developing an alternative fuel market and creating the corresponding infrastructures.
Air Liquide manages the entire hydrogen chain. A pioneer in hydrogen energy, Air Liquide is actively participating in the sector's development and so contributing to meeting the energy transition challenge. The Group is demonstrating its commitment by providing hydrogen charging stations for cars, forklift trucks and other transport vehicles. In Europe, Air Liquide has already launched several hydrogen charging stations for use by the general public, particularly in the Netherlands, Germany and France. Other stations are also being rolled out in the US and Japan.
Pierre-Etienne Franc, Vice-President of Air Liquide advanced Business and Technologies says:
"We are delighted of the opening of this first hydrogen station in Belgium. The hydrogen is the missing link for a successful energy transition. It constitutes one of the solutions for clean transport, allowing to evolve towards electric motorizations while respecting usages. We answer by this way to the challenges of clean transport: reduction of greenhouse gases, pollution in cities and from the dependence to fossil energies."
(*) SWARM: Small 4-Wheel fuel cell passenger vehicle Applications in Regional and Municipal transport. The project aims to supply ninety hydrogen-powered city cars to Europe. Regions of European countries are participating in the project: the Brussels region in Belgium and the Wer-Ems region in Germany. The project has been financed by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (FP7/2007-2013) with approval number 303485.