The refining and petrochemical group ORLEN Unipetrol has opened its second public hydrogen filling station. It is located at the ORLEN Benzina filling station in Záluží u Litvínova. It has the same parameters as the hydrogen filling station that opened in Prague-Barrandov in March. “We are building publicly accessible and fully self-service hydrogen filling stations for cars, trucks and buses that operate non-stop and where filling is done similarly to standard refuelling,” said Tomáš Herink, member of the ORLEN Unipetrol Group’s board of directors. The building of the hydrogen infrastructure is in accordance with the ORLEN Unipetrol Group’s strategy of zero-emission development. It follows EU and national priorities in developing the public infrastructure for clean mobility.
‘In line with our hydrogen strategy, ORLEN will invest PLN 7.4 billion in projects investments focused on the advancement of technology, distribution infrastructure, and the production processes of zero and low-emission hydrogen. Our aim is to generate up to 130 thousand tonnes of renewable hydrogen per year. By the end of this decade, we anticipate the establishment of over 100 hydrogen refuelling stations throughout Central Europe within the ORLEN network, catering to personal, public, and freight transport needs, with nearly a third of these stations based in the Czech Republic. I'm pleased to report that we are steadfastly reaching our goal, as evidenced by the recent launch of yet another station in the Czech Republic. This progress is particularly significant as it plays a crucial role in the "Hydrogen Eagle" project, which is designed to ensure the accessibility of hydrogen fuel across both North-South and East-West transport corridors. Building a network of hydrogen stations is a vital step in ORLEN's mission to achieve climate neutrality of the Group, all the while fostering the energy transformation of our region,’ said Daniel Obajtek, CEO and President of the PKN ORLEN Management Board.
“Building hydrogen infrastructure is part of our plan for strategic development towards emissions neutrality which we want to reach by 2050 at the latest. We emphasise the development of the petrochemical segment, decarbonisation, digitalisation, recycling, and utilisation of alternative energy sources, including biofuels and hydrogen. By 2030, we will have invested CZK 35 billion in this respect,” said ORLEN Unipetrol Group’s CEO Tomasz Wiatrak, describing the development plans.
The construction of the hydrogen station in Záluží u Litvínova was supported by the Ministry of Transport of the Czech Republic as part of the Operational Programme Transport 2. “According to the current plan for clean mobility, there should be 12 hydrogen stations by 2025 and 40 stations by 2030 in the Czech Republic,” remarked Czech Minister of Transport Martin Kupka, who further pointed out that the given objectives did not reflect the current wording of the draft European regulation on the introduction of alternative-fuel infrastructure, according to which hydrogen infrastructure should be built every 200 km on the main TEN-T network. “This year, we expect the Clean Mobility National Plan to be updated,” concluded Minister Kupka.
The Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic also implements activities towards more sustainable transport. "The Ministry of the Environment, as the ministry of the future, aims to reduce the emission burden from transport. We are therefore systematically supporting the replacement of the public administration's fleet, and since last year we have launched a large, six hundred million euro funding call from the National Renewal Plan for municipalities, regions, authorities, schools and other institutions to support the purchase of electric vehicles, hydrogen vehicles and non-public charging stations. The project is still running and one year since its announcement we have applications for over 463 million crowns, which will be used by public administrations to purchase 1,255 electric vehicles and 316 charging stations," said Czech Minister of the Environment Petr Hladík.
Hydrogen is an essential component in developing low-emission and zero-emission personal, mass and cargo transportation. “Its more intensive utilisation is also necessary to meet the objectives of industrial decarbonisation. We perceive technology using renewable hydrogen as a suitable addition to the energy mix of new technologies and processes, and through their combination, we can meet the Union’s objectives more efficiently,” added Tomáš Herink, member of the ORLEN Unipetrol Group’s board of directors and specified: “Every year, we produce 80,000 tonnes of hydrogen in our refineries. As of 2027, we plan to produce 4,500 tonnes of hydrogen also with the help of renewable energy sources, with most electricity coming from a photovoltaic plant installed near our Litvínov refinery.”
ORLEN Unipetrol is very active in building alternative-fuel infrastructure. Apart from classic vehicle fuels, it offers a host of alternative energy sources in its ORLEN Benzina network, the largest chain in the Czech Republic with 436 outlets. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is available at 56 filling stations, compressed natural gas (CNG) at 47 stations, and there are 244 charging points for electric vehicles at 61 stations.
Hydrogen-powered vehicles are basically electric cars. Still, they do not take power from batteries but from a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen in fuel cells while making water. Compared to the existing battery-driven e-cars, the most significant benefits of hydrogen-powered vehicles include a long range and short filling time, comparable to refuelling petrol and diesel. There are only several dozen hydrogen vehicles in the Czech Republic now. Yet, according to the estimates of the Ministry of Transport of the Czech Republic, there could be up to 50,000 hydrogen-driven vehicles on Czech roads in 2030.
The ORLEN Benzina filling station in Záluží u Litvínova (on the Road I/27 roundabout close to the Litvínov Refinery) is a full self-service site that is available to the public 24/7 and suitable for refuelling passenger cars, trucks, and buses. It offers two delivery nozzles with different head shapes to fill in cars with pressure of 700 bar and trucks and buses with 350 bar. The price of hydrogen at ORLEN Benzina stations was set at CZK 278 per kg. A hydrogen-powered vehicle consuming 1 kg of hydrogen per 100 km takes about 5 kg of hydrogen. The ORLEN Benzina hydrogen filling station was built with financial support from the Ministry of Transport of the Czech Republic within the Operational Programme Transport. ORLEN Unipetrol has five hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai cars in its corporate fleet.
ORLEN is also actively advancing plans to establish hydrogen refuelling stations throughout Poland. Publicly accessible stations in Poznań and Katowice are expected to be operational in the third quarter of 2023. In the subsequent two years, plans are underway to launch further stations in Piła, Wałbrzych, Warsaw, Gorzów Wielkopolski, Bielsko-Biała, Kraków, and Włocławek. Since 2022, PKN ORLEN has been channeling hydrogen supplies to a mobile refuelling station in Kraków, catering to the needs of the city's public bus transport. The hydrogen is produced at a HUB in Trzebinia, generating approximately 45 kg of this fuel per hour.
The ORLEN Unipetrol Group is the largest refining and petrochemical company in the Czech Republic. It focuses on crude oil processing and the production, distribution and sale of vehicle fuels and petrochemical products – particularly plastics and fertilisers. It belongs among the key players on the Czech and Central European markets in all these areas. The ORLEN Unipetrol Group encompasses refineries and production plants in Litvínov and Kralupy nad Vltavou, Paramo in Pardubice, Spolana in Neratovice, REMAQ in Otrokovice, and two research centres in Litvínov and Brno. ORLEN Unipetrol also includes the ORLEN Benzina filling station network in the Czech Republic and a network of ORLEN outlets in Slovakia and Hungary. In 2005, ORLEN Unipetrol became a member of the ORLEN Group, the largest multi-energy company in Central Europe. ORLEN Unipetrol employs almost 6,000 people and is active in corporate social responsibility. It seeks to promote initiatives that cultivate and support sustainable development, education, local communities, and the environment.
ORLEN Benzina is part of the ORLEN Unipetrol Group, which belongs to the multinational ORLEN Group and operates the largest network of petrol stations in the Czech Republic. In addition to EFECTA fuels with a purifying effect, ORLEN Benzina offers top-quality VERVA fuels and a wide range of refreshments within the STOP CAFE concept. ORLEN Benzina also issues its EASY and BUSINESS fuel cards and offers customers two mobile applications – the ORLEN Benzina loyalty app and the car care application, Mycí digi linka. ORLEN Benzina also provides power for alternative drives (LPG and CNG) and electricity. It has also launched the first self-service hydrogen filling stations in Prague and plans to open more. In total, ORLEN Benzina operates 436 petrol stations in the Czech Republic and has a market share of 23 per cent. Consumer confidence was confirmed by the fact that ORLEN Benzina was awarded the title of the Most Trusted Brand in the Czech Republic for the fifth time in a row and four times the Merchant of the Year.