There is evidence that the uptake of hydrogen trucking technology is moving at pace. In 2022, the first hydrogen heavy haulage vehicle was deployed on an active mine site, moving the technology from the laboratory to the field.
Anglo American, in collaboration with engineering consultancies ENGIE, First Mode, Ballard and NPROXX, deployed its first prototype hydrogen fuel cell truck to the Mogalakwena open-pit platinum mine in South Africa. The vehicle is based on a 210-ton Komatsu 930E chassis, with a combination of a 1.2 MWh battery pack and an 800 kW hydrogen fuel cell.91 The resulting vehicle has both zero direct emissions and a higher payload than the original diesel-electric configuration.
In addition to demonstrating the vehicle itself, this site will prototype a fully integrated renewable hydrogen production system, including a 100 MW solar array and 3.5 MW hydrogen electrolysis unit. This system will use zero-emission electricity from the solar array to crack water, producing up to one metric ton of hydrogen per day.1 This end-to-end hydrogen system demonstrates the full benefits of zero-emission energy with hydrogen that is produced on-site, eliminating transport costs and supply chain risk.
Following quickly after this news, Fortescue announced a contract to procure 120 heavy haulage trucks from Liebherr as part of ongoing fleet replacement.2 The Liebherr platforms will be combined with drivetrain systems built by Williams Advanced Engineering, recently acquired by Fortescue.3 Prior to the acquisition, WAE had worked with both Fortescue and Anglo-American on battery-electric haulage truck prototypes. The new Fortescue vehicles will have options for both battery-electric and hydrogen configurations, with the first vehicles entering service in 2025.
Fortescue also announced plans for further commercialisation of the resulting technology, in addition to use on Fortescue’s own mine sites. The growing availability of hydrogen technology and related infrastructure to operators and OEMs is anticipated to position hydrogen to be a viable technology choice in the late 2020s, alongside improvements in battery-electric technology and EVs more broadly.