Interview with Stephanie Thomson, HV Systems
I wiggled over to Scotland for the All Energy trade show and found the lovely Stephanie Thomson of HV Systems who gave us the low down on all things hydrogen. Stephanie is very knowledgeable and was a delight to converse with. The hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that HV Systems are producing are really next generation – I can imagine them being seen all around the world in the near future.
Can you give a short background of HV Systems and who you serve?
HV Systems was formed in 2017 by co-founders Emil and Waheed. They are both passionate about the environment and fuel cells, and waited until the market was ready to set up HV Systems. Our target is the courier and freight sector, our customers are the van and truck drivers and operators that are wanting to cut their emissions on the roads.
What are some of the fresh breakthroughs and achievements that have been completed by HV systems recently?
HV Systems have recently won the Scottish Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice and also the SME Scottish Business Awards for Innovation of the Year 2019. We are close to completing our H2 Van prototype.
Has the rise of clean energy systems really delivered growth for HV Systems?
As a company working in a sector completely focused on clean energy systems (the hydrogen vehicle sector), the advances of technology and the increase in the number of companies working in the hydrogen sector has helped HV Systems to grow. Our vision would not be possible without the advances made in the refueling side of hydrogen transport and the rise of the electric powertrain.
From a fuel cells perspective, which technologies do you see as the most important and exciting for the next 5 years?
PEM fuel cells. Efficient non-precious metal catalysts. The cost of fuel cell vehicles is starting to come down, but the price is still a limiting factor in the number of sales. The fuel cell is currently one of the most expensive components. However, OEMs increasing their production and carrying out further cost-reducing R&D will drive down the price of both the fuel cell and the vehicle, thus increasing uptake. Over the next five years, fuel cell applications for passenger and commercial vehicles will become economically attractive, on top of the environmental benefits.
How much can aerodynamics design affect the vehicles electricity consumption?
Our vehicles being more aerodynamic will require less energy to be expended, which means less hydrogen will be required per kilometer. This will in turn reduce the number of times the vehicle will need to be refilled and reduce the TCO.
While there is a lot of excitement and hope within the community about fuel cells, it also has its detractors. What are the major legislative and community issues you have had to deal with?
The incoming bans on diesel and petrol vehicles from cities and even entire countries over the next two decades (Norway 2025, Germany 2030, Scotland 2032, Rest of UK 2040) will make it easier for us to market our vehicles. The increase in Ultra Low Emissions Zones will significantly impact the cost of fossil-fuel commercial vehicles entering city centers. Our vehicles will not have issues with this as they have zero emissions.
The main community issue is communicating how safe hydrogen transportation is today. There have been stringent tests on hydrogen gas canisters and they are as safe, if not safer for use on the road than petrol or diesel equivalents.
A big thanks to Stephanie for taking the time to chat with us. Your knowledge of the market and willingness to share insights were really helpful. We wish HV Systems all the best in the future, and hope to see their vehicles on the road soon!