ECN publication
Planning and permitting procedures. Analysis of expected lead times for hydrogen infrastructure build-up in the Netherlands
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 5-8-2010
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-E--10-051 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
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The successful introduction of a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for vehicles in the Netherlands requires – amongst other – permitting processes for hydrogen refuelling stations. An important finding of the European HyFLEET:CUTE (Clean Urban Transport for Europe) research project which successfully employed 33 buses in the public transport systems of 9 different cities was that the cost-effective development of hydrogen refuelling stations requires a harmonisation of safety requirements and permitting processes. Permitting processes are determined by available codes, standards and regulation. (International) regulation constitutes high-level and strict harmonisation. As long as none of this is available, permitting can be supported by guidelines, e.g. safety requirements. Such guidelines serve to build trust and common expectations and requirements among stakeholders. This, in turn, can render permitting processes more effective and efficient.

This report discusses two European research projects aimed at the development of guidelines, codes and standards. Subsequently, the current situation in the Netherlands and experiences and status quo in the US, Norway, Germany and Italy concerning permitting procedures are highlighted. Although no European or (global) international standards are available yet, most stations planned so far have received required permits. Due to a lack of standards and because each demonstration project usually involves authorities which are new to the topic and often makes use of different refuelling technology, permitting lead times vary greatly between six months to two years. In Germany technical and safety guidelines have been developed for refuelling stations operating with gaseous hydrogen. In the Netherlands such guidelines are currently under development. In Italy required regulation is already in place, but still has to prove its ability to decrease the complexity and resulting length of the permitting process. The different countries are calling for European legislation in order to ensure permitting processes that are similar in length as to those currently in place for conventional refuelling stations, namely six months.

Currently, partially due to a lack in regulation, the success of hydrogen refuelling pilot projects depends on committed efforts of all pilot partners and open and frequent communication among project partners and other stakeholders. Technological learning with respect to materials, components and systems is important. Additionally, institutional learning with respect to appropriate safety guidelines is crucial for efficient and safe technology implementation. There are also important aspects of (social) learning that require attention and support, e.g. learning about the set-up of permitting processes (e.g. department interaction within authorities), networking of relevant stakeholders and sharing of knowledge and experiences. The transition of a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure from pilot project to (large-scale) demonstration phase can benefit from collective efforts on local, regional, national and international level.

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