Indonesia to mandate all vehicles to be hydrogen-based in future capital

A cleared forest area marks a 7.3-km toll road project underway near the new capital city of Nusantara in East Kalimantan, as seen in this undated handout photo from state-owned construction company PT Wijaya Karya, the project’s developer. - Antara

JAKARTA: The government wants to mandate all vehicles in the future capital city of Nusantara (IKN) to be based on hydrogen, in a move that appears to mark a shift from its initial focus on battery-based electric vehicles (EVs) in the planned new capital in East Kalimantan.

The target is to implement the mandate after 2040 with an interim goal of 50% of vehicles in 2035 to be based on hydrogen, also known as fuel cell EVs.

“Fuel cell EVs are a part of Nusantara’s larger development plan,” said Eko Harjanto, assistant to undersecretary for industrial development at the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister. That day, Eko was speaking at an event titled Exploring the Great Potential and Future of Hydrogen Cars. “Hydrogen fuel cells offer a promising solution for clean energy in our transportation sector,” he added.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo previously said in November last year that all passenger vehicles in the future capital city must be battery-based EVs, while 80% of public transportation would also be electric-based.

State-owned electricity company PLN had also pledged to provide battery-powered infrastructure to support the vision, such as charging stations for battery-powered EVs in Nusantara and its satellite cities like Balikpapan and Samarinda.

Meanwhile, hydrogen-based EVs were envisioned largely to make up the city’s commercial vehicles including trucks and buses.

Battery and fuel cell EVs use a similar propulsion system but the former uses onboard batteries to store energy that will power its electric motors, whereas the latter stores energy as hydrogen that gets converted to electricity by the fuel cell.

Eko went on to say that this move aligned with the government’s strategy to accelerate the adoption of low carbon-emission vehicles, as hydrogen fuel cells generate electricity without producing emissions, with water the only by-product.

The Transportation Ministry has already analysed the potential need for hydrogen fuel cells to power buses and trucks.

Initial estimates suggest transitioning some buses to hydrogen fuel would require a power output of six gigawatt hours (GWh) by 2040, equivalent to 210,000 tonnes of hydrogen.

Meanwhile, shifting other heavy transport vehicles would require 161GWh worth of power output, equivalent to 4.88 kilotonnes of hydrogen for the same period.

The government has implemented tax incentives to encourage the domestic production and sale of battery-powered EVs but has yet to make a similar regulation for hydrogen-powered vehicles. — The Jakarta Post/ANN
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