Transport and logistics experts at the 5th International Conference on Future Mobility have called for greater infrastructure to the success and use of hydrogen fuelled vehicles to provide alternative modes of mobility.

The Conference which is the region’s most eminent annual gathering of influential sustainable and intelligent mobility leaders was co-organised by the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) and Messe Frankfurt Middle East, and ran from 26-27 November at the Grand Hyatt, Dubai.

During an interactive panel discussion on the infrastructure requirements to enable EV and fuel cells in the UAE, Mohit Tyagi, of BMW AG highlighted key points for the success of hydrogen fuelled vehicles and how they can impact the future of mobility and logistics in cities of the future.

“Hydrogen will be a source of energy for fuel cells that will usher the transition of energy use in the future. This will apply to all sectors and will greatly benefit route traffic,” said Tyagi. “The federal authority in the UAE, ESMA, has been involved in framing the regulations for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and we’ve welcomed these efforts.”

Tyagi explained that hydrogen and synthetic fuels will play a large part in road transport and government support is a necessity for its success. “Hydrogen is a basic building block of a post fossil-fuel society and in 2050 we expect 80% of energy sources used in the road transport worldwide will be based on hydrogen or synthetic fuel,” he said.

“Once the technology and regulations are in place, the government has to act to promote hydrogen infrastructure or promote hydrogen transportation in the mobility landscape.

“Success in hydrogen mobility will require high performance, fast and safe fuelling, and optimum production, storage and logistics. These points will have to be developed and driven in parallel. Additionally, hydrogen mobility must be attractive, safe, sustainable and affordable for to be a success for the consumer.”

Panellist Erwan Bruneau, Product Manager – Europe, Hydrogen Energy Systems at Air Products outlined the approach governments in the region must adopt to enable hydrogen-powered cars to become a viable alternative to internal combustion engines.

“We know the technology is there, it works and it’s safe. We’ve estimated that hydrogen cars have already refuelled over nine million times globally,” explained Bruneau. “We have developed standards over the years to provide a consistent technology and protocols for refuelling vehicles but also for building systems.

“Now we need investment in infrastructure and building networks. Companies are willing to enter that market and continue to support it, however, local political backing will make the difference. We’ve seen this in Europe, the US and Japan and they have been at the forefront of developing and supporting the move towards hydrogen mobility. This has been pushed through policy on energy and carbon emissions taxation and funding of energy programmes. Once you engage with the initial funding of these programmes, the benefits will take on a snowball effect.”

The exhibition space at ICFM also played host to display of new and existing (EVs) showcased by some of the region’s top manufactures such as MG, BMW, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Chevrolet, and Jaguar Land Rover.

These included the MG ZS EV, Mitsubishi’s e-Evolution concept car and Outlander PHEV, BMW’s i3S 120Ah Advance and i8 Roadster, the Porsche Taycan, Jaguar’s I-PACE and the Chevrolet Bolt.