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“Inspiration for other energy transition initiatives”


Nicolas Crettenand has been part of the Hydrospider team since 2020, practically from the start. As Head of Operations, the civil engineer EPFL was significantly involved in setting up the supply chain for the low-emission mobility ecosystem. Crettenand has been Managing Director of Hydrospider since June 1, 2022. He says: “Sustainable heavy transport needs green hydrogen. The principle of the ecosystem works, although it is still in a pioneering phase and still needs improvements.” The primary goal for the next few months is to advance the expansion of production facilities.


Hyundai's 46 fuel cell trucks powered by green hydrogen cover ever greater distances, regularly well over 10,000 kilometers per day. How do these numbers make you feel as Managing Director of Hydrospider?


Nicolas Crettenand: These values are very encouraging. They underline that the principle of the ecosystem works and that there is a need for sustainable mobility in the area of heavy transport. Hyundai's fuel cell truck has proven itself in everyday life and the drivers and transporters enjoy the vehicle and its features. All of this is very gratifying. Because this means that more and more CO2 emissions are avoided.


The idea of the ecosystem was launched almost three years ago, and the first production plant for green hydrogen in Switzerland was put into operation two years ago in Niedergösgen. Where is the ecosystem today?

Crettenand: Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility, the members of the H2 Mobility Switzerland support association and Hydrospider have achieved a lot together in recent years. Everyone involved is doing pioneering work in various areas. They have created a new infrastructure and a new business model on a private sector basis and brought it to life. We are not yet where we wanted to be in the ecosystem with our ambitious goals two years ago. It is still in a pioneering phase and still needs improvements. For example, the expansion of production capacity did not progress quite as planned.


You have been Managing Director of Hydrospider since June 1, 2022. What are your goals for the next few months?

Crettenand: Primarily, we need to promote the expansion of production facilities for green hydrogen in Switzerland - be it at our own locations or with partners. Things are tough here for various reasons. In a few weeks, the hydrogen production Ostschweiz AG in St.Gallen will put the Kubel production plant into operation. This is a ray of hope, but it is not enough. Further and larger systems are to follow. At the same time, we are further digitizing and automating the logistics area. Today we have 24 swap containers in use to transport the green hydrogen to the filling stations, which is still manageable with reasonable effort. But as the ecosystem grows, we need scalable solutions here too.


What is the economic efficiency?

Crettenand: This is actually a big challenge for the entire ecosystem. As is well known, the energy markets have been going crazy for several months; Electricity prices are higher than ever before. The production of hydrogen is very electricity-intensive, which currently leads to extremely high costs. There is no doubt: Sustainable, low-emission heavy transport requires green hydrogen and all parties involved are behind the initiative. But ultimately the business model can only work if the economic aspect is right for all partners.


You have been working for Hydrospider since the beginning of the ecosystem, have helped shape its development and experienced it first hand. What distinguishes the partnership?

Crettenand: The ecosystem for low-emission mobility makes the much-described sector coupling a reality. As entrepreneurs and pioneers, each partner is ready to invest with conviction in this joint future project. Here competitors work together and exchange ideas. The common goal is to find a solution for the decarbonization of heavy transport. Therefore, everyone is pulling in the same direction. And as a result, the ecosystem can become an inspiration for other energy transition initiatives.

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