Hydrogen refueling station explodes in Norway; Toyota, Hyundai halt FCV sales

The incident follows an explosion at a California chemical plant, interrupting hydrogen supplies for fuel-cell vehicles.

A hydrogen refueling station in Norway has reportedly experienced an explosion, disrupting fuel supplies across the region.

Norwegian media outlets E24 and TU detail a "huge explosion" at a station in the city of Sandvika near Oslo, injuring two occupants of a nearby non-FCV vehicle that was rocked hard enough to deploy the airbags.

Nel, an Oslo-based company that supplied the hydrogen and refueling infrastructure to the station, has dispatched a team of technical experts to work with authorities as they investigate the cause of the explosion.

In the meantime, Nel has temporarily halted its hydrogen refueling operations in Norway, Denmark and other countries.

Toyota and Hyundai have both reportedly halted sales of hydrogen-powered vehicles until the cause of the incident is determined and the stations are back online.

Notably, the incident follows less than two weeks after a hydrogen explosion occurred at a chemical plant in California. In both cases, the explosions appear to have caused problems for FCV owners who need to refuel.

The California Fuel Cell Partnership's station map currently shows nine of 11 refueling sites offline in the San Francisco Bay Area, forcing some FCV owners to make a far drive just to fill their tank.

"We do anticipate some hiccups and some teething pains during these early years, but of course when you have every station in the Bay Area down that's a pretty major hiccup," Shane Stevens, founding partner of Bay Area hydrogen station owner True Zero, told ABC7.

The explosions are subsequent hydrogen supply interruptions highlight the ongoing challenge for fuel-cell vehicles as infrastructure expands at a crawling pace and sales of FCVs remain low. A few major automakers such as Toyota remain committed to the technology, however, and have voiced optimism that hydrogen will still carve out a niche in the automotive industry despite the stellar rise in EV sales.

Read more!