In 2019, the city of Fulda won the bid for the HyLand funding programme from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI). It aims to advance hydrogen/fuel cell (FC) drives in Germany. Now it is entering the concept development phase, which means in a few years, 1,000 commercial fuel cell vehicles will be on the road in East Hesse, one of the most important logistics hubs in Germany.

The reasons for taking this step are obvious: green transport services are unique selling points for regional transport companies, the region as an industry location is strengthened by the establishment of a sustainable hydrogen economy and, at the same time, a contribution is made to achieving federal government climate goals. In short, HyWheels will boost East Hesse as a centre of commerce and industry while advancing the shift away from fossil fuels in the transport sector.

In the project initiation phase, the city of Fulda and Fulda district were supported by the long-standing expertise of the H2BZ-Initiative Hesse e.V. and LEA LandesEnergieAgentur Hessen GmbH. Because both actors avail of a large network, many logistical companies were secured for a LOI during the application process.

One focus of the detailed concept is the use of FC trucks. All actors involved see the potential for the acquisition of at least 1,000 hydrogen-operated vehicles. The joint procurement will minimise added costs for operating the vehicles. In addition competitive advantages will be created for regional transport companies, because they are able to offer in-demand green transport services in a competitive logistics market. Aside from using FC trucks, possibilities for operating FC buses, rubbish collection vehicles and industrial trucks for intralogistics will be analysed. FC vehicles could be used for example, in car sharing fleets. Now entering the next phase, a detailed concept will be developed.

The development of the region of East Hesse as a hydrogen region is supported under the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP2) with a total of 300,000 euros by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. The funding guideline is being coordinated by NOW GmbH and implemented by Projektträger Jülich (PtJ). East Hesse is thus one of 13 subsidised hydrogen regions in Germany in the HyExpert category.

For the preparation of the detailed concept, the city of Fulda awarded two work packages: one on the exact specification of the required infrastructure and another on the topic of FC vehicles. The newly-commissioned consortia are beginning to prepare a detailed concept for hydrogen use in logistics. The concept should be ready to be implemented by mid-2021. The application was submitted under the leadership of the city planning authority of the city of Fulda, which received support from the district of Fulda as well as the H2BZ-Initiative Hessen and LandesEnergieAgentur Hessen GmbH.