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Hydrogen filling station with Toyota Mirai taxis in Copenhagen: End after less than two years

Photo: Everfuel A/S

The move affects only a few drivers in Denmark, but they are all the more massive: According to the industry association "Brintbranchen", just 167 cars with hydrogen fuel cells are registered in the Scandinavian country. This is precisely why the pioneers of alternative drive technology will have to refuel elsewhere in the future.

The operation of hydrogen filling stations for cars is not worthwhile, the company Everfuel told SPIEGEL on Friday. "We can't continue to subsidize the stations." The proliferation of hydrogen cars has "not met expectations". Previously, the specialist portal »Energywatch« reported on the closure. According to its own information, the start-up has so far been the only operator in Denmark. According to previous plans, a network of more than 15 filling stations was to be created by this year, but now there are zero. Company boss Jacob Krogsgaard apologized for the "inconvenience".

Technical problems were cited as the trigger for the step, but not as the reason. Everfuel has not been able to supply its petrol stations since June after leaks were discovered in the valves of its twelve tankers. Over the summer, the stations were therefore out of service.

»Immature market«

On this occasion, the Danish company reconsidered its business strategy. An "immature market" speaks against relying on hydrogen cars. Everfuel now wants to focus on building large electrolysers to produce hydrogen for industry using wind power. These projects are also delayed, but promise secure income. From 2028, a pipeline to Germany is to guarantee sales, and certificates for green hydrogen can already be sold on the German market.

Three older petrol stations in Brabrand, Kolding and Copenhagen will be permanently shut down, as will two other Everfuel petrol stations in Norway. There, the opening of a new third gas station was canceled, but there are also other providers in the country. A new solution is being sought for the locations of planned stations in Sweden.

Everfuel's newer Danish hydrogen filling stations in the port of Aarhus will also remain closed "until further notice", as well as a second one in Copenhagen, where a taxi fleet of 2021 Toyota Mirai has been supplied since 100. The taxi company Drivr also seems to be reorienting, it has now introduced battery electric cars from Toyota as a new option. According to Everfuel, these sites could reopen if a viable business model can be developed.

This is the case with a Dutch Everfuel filling station, which remains in operation. Buses are supplied there. Construction is also continuing at two German bus filling stations in Frankfurt am Main and Wuppertal. In principle, hydrogen stations could be worthwhile where heavy-duty traffic ensures sufficient sales.

In a few years' time, Everfuel can envisage resuming the petrol station business in Denmark as well – especially since the European Union is obliging its member states to build a network of major transport routes by 2030. Theoretically, hydrogen cars could then also refuel in Denmark because the EU prescribes this option. "But only as a supplement," Everfuel clarifies. First and foremost, the filling stations of the future are intended for trucks.