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Nikola Will Finally Build Its Hydrogen Stations, But It Won’t Do It Alone

In June 2020 – when Trevor Milton was still its CEO – Nikola announced it had bought five atmospheric electrolyzers from Nel ASA to generate 40 tons of hydrogen per day. The company would build hydrogen fueling stations with them using witty “PPA (Power Purchase Agreements) on main federal transmission lines,” as Nikola said at the time. Since then, Milton resigned, GM backed away from a deal it had with the company, and Nikola never touched on building hydrogen stations again until now. It seems Opal Fuels LLC will finally get them going, even if not in the way they were supposed to work.
Nikola Two Refuels With Hydrogen 15 photos
Nikola Two Refuels With HydrogenNikola Two Refuels With HydrogenNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen R&D Center Before Plans ChangedNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen Station Before Plans ChangedAtmospheric Electrolyzer from Nel ASA Nikola Intended to UseNikola Two Refuels With HydrogenNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen Station Before Plans ChangedNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen Station Before Plans ChangedNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen Station Before Plans ChangedNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen Station Before Plans ChangedNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen Station Before Plans ChangedNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen Pump Before Plans ChangedNikola Two Refuels With HydrogenNikola Two Refuels With Hydrogen
Opal Fuels produces renewable natural gas – or biomethane, if you prefer. That means that using this gas does not increase the carbon level in the atmosphere: the carbon present in biomethane was extracted from the atmosphere. Methane from fossil fuels releases carbon that was confined under the soil for millions of years. This is what worsens the greenhouse effect and increases temperatures, generating climate change.

In the hydrogen stations Opal plans to create with Nikola, the biomethane will be decomposed to produce hydrogen. This gas will then be fed to Class 8 trucks running on fuel cells, precisely the ones Nikola said it would build a while ago. Having the trucks does not help if you do not have where to fill up their tanks, which is why Nikola also pledged to have these hydrogen fueling stations in the first place. Apart from manufacturing the trucks, the company was also willing to create the refueling infrastructure on which they will rely.

Opal and Nikola said they would first concentrate on creating refueling stations for “large private fleets” that have dedicated fueling structures. The good news is that they “will also identify and evaluate opportunities to establish public access hydrogen stations.”

These stations will probably be linked with Nikola trucks and their customers in the first moment. After all, it makes no sense to create an infrastructure that will have no users. At the same time, companies will only invest in FCEVs if they have hydrogen stations available. It will be interesting to see how this will evolve into creating the hydrogen refueling network that will help to establish clean transportation for industries that still fight to find a feasible alternative to diesel, such as trucking.

press release
 
 
 
 
 

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