INTERVIEW THP19: Revolutionizing Waste Management: Parker Meeks, CEO of Hyzon, Unveils Hydrogen-Powered Refuse Truck

Paul Rodden • Season: 2024 • Episode: SIS19

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Special Interview Series – Parker Meeks / Hyzon – Join us in this exciting episode of The Hydrogen Podcast as we sit down with Parker Meeks, CEO of Hyzon, to discuss a groundbreaking development in the waste management industry. Hyzon has unveiled North America’s first hydrogen fuel cell refuse truck in partnership with New Way, promising to transform how waste is managed with zero-emission solutions. Parker shares insights into the challenges and milestones of this project, the innovative 200kW fuel cell system, and the future of hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles.

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Paul Rodden



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Paul Rodden 0:00 Hello everyone, this is Paul Rodden. I want to welcome you back to The Hydrogen Podcast. Today we’re going to talk with Parker Meeks CEO of Hyzon on a major development that will revolutionize the waste management industry in the United States. Hyzon designs and manufactures fuel cell technology for heavy duty transport applications, and integrates this technology into zero emissions hydrogen powered commercial vehicles. Their low cost clean hydrogen infrastructure approach synchronizes supply with demand, putting clean trucks on the road faster. I’m extremely excited to share this news and can’t wait to learn more about their new offering. So Lets cue up the theme song and dive right into the interview. Paul Rodden 0:41 So the big questions in the energy industry today are how is hydrogen the primary driving force behind the evolution of energy? Where is capital being deployed for hydrogen projects globally? And where are the best investment opportunities for early adopters who recognize the importance of hydrogen? I will address the critical issues and give you the information you need to deploy capital. Those are the questions that will unlock the potential of hydrogen and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Paul Rodden and welcome to the hydrogen podcast. Paul Rodden 1:08 Ok, welcome back. I have a special guest for the show today and what he is going to talk about is a game changer for the waste management industry. I am delighted to introduce Parker Meeks. Parker Meeks is the CEO of Hyzon, and is a visionary leader in the hydrogen fuel cell industry. Under his exceptional leadership, Hyzon has achieved significant milestones, including the development and unveiling of North America’s first hydrogen fuel cell refuse truck in collaboration with New Way. Parker’s strategic vision and commitment to sustainability have propelled Hyzon to the forefront of zero-emission power solutions for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Welcome, Parker, thank you for joining us again on the hydrogen podcast, it’s great to have you on the show. Parker Meeks 1:54 Hey, Paul, thanks so much for having me back. Great to see you and excited to update on the progress we’re making and how we’re gonna make garbage really exciting. Paul Rodden 2:02 I can’t wait to hear more about it. Hyzon announced some major news recently… To start off, can you walk us through this announcement of the development of North America’s first hydrogen fuel cell refuse truck? What were some of the key challenges and milestones you encountered that led you to this moment? Parker Meeks 2:18 Thanks, Paul. And we’re really thrilled to share where we are with the refuse market because it’s one that we really do believe it is one that that fuel cell can only deliver the performance that fleets need to match what combustion can do in a zero emission way. And we’re excited as Hyzon to be the first in Australia first and then now the first in North America to bring a fuel cell refuse vehicle to market. And I do need to start with our friends down under first. So our Australia team brought this truck to life. Basically the way that we developed our platforms globally, each region is focused on a platform that’s best suited for some reason to start in that region. So the US team started with the conventional hydrogen class eight truck, the European team started with the cab over flat front heavy duty truck, and our Australian team started with what we call the heavy rigid, which is the base vehicle for a garbage truck. And that heavy rigid by the way that base fuel cell power chassis, there’s a refuse body on the back of that right now. Right. But that same fuel cell power chassis could have a varied array of back ends on it to serve other markets in the future. So we’re starting with refuse. And that’s because there was a very strong pull from our Australian refuse Fleet Base to have a fuel cell refuse truck. So our Australia team developed that truck deployed it in trial in October 2023 with Remondis. Remondis is the fifth largest refuse fleet in the world. They have a significant presence in Europe and in Australia. They are a great customer to put this platform to the test. And they did. Unconstrained combustion routes 18% grades. Those that don’t know what 18% is go look at, you know the steepest Tiller in your neighborhood, and it’s probably less than 10%. This was a real use case and one were to do the normal combustion we needed to do 1200 Trash Can lifts, right? These aren’t your bathroom trash cans, these are full trash cans by the street and go about 150 miles to do full full combustion work. Our truck did that consistently without having to refuel. Right. And that’s important because the best battery trucks that that that our customers in that region have tried, for some time, do about half that 600 cart lifts and then they have to go home and charge. So why is that? That is because of weights mainly. So payload. So a typical Garbage Truck calls about 13 tons of trash, right? Our truck has very minimal weight penalty. So you can haul about the same, a battery truck can have enough to a four ton weight penalty up to 40% of the payload you can’t haul because the battery weight and that causes more trips to the landfill for the same amount of trash. So you know with that our customers see… and that proved to us that in this Australian use case, significantly challenged daily use case four months, no failures, no unplanned downtime, the same operating cost as diesel without subsidy, which is an amazing statement, because the fuel down there is reasonable. It was about nine US dollars a kilo, which still isn’t what we want, but good enough, and, and doing all that work. So one of the strengths of Hyzon is specifically designed fuel cell powertrain and fuel cells supply, globally deployed. Right. So with that, in parallel, our US team working with our Australian team brought that truck to life for the US market. So we collaborated globally to build the first US truck, that truck, we found New Way as a great partner to launch that first truck with. New Way is the largest private refuse body OEM in the US market. There’s someone who wants to lean forward and innovate. And so the main challenges we had to work through first was the Australian experience in total, which is going quite well, and then translating that from a right hand drive to a left hand drive configuration, and then working with a new body builder. But the good news for us is, once we powered the chassis, working with the different OEM is relatively straightforward. It’s really just software collaboration with that OEM. And we will do that quite successful in a great partnership from a February announcement to a May unveil. It’s pretty short period of time. And two trials now kicking off this summer, where some of the largest fleets in the US, you know, we are thrilled, and into how that program has has gone. Paul Rodden 6:28 That’s awesome. So speaking of New Way, how did that partnership come about? And what were some of the key synergies between Hyzon a New Way for that project? Parker Meeks 6:37 There are a few critical overarching alignment points that have to come together, right. And I think the first really is a vision that zero mission solutions are needed. And there are customers out there who really want this. New Way helped us really understand the US refuse market from their customers. So they all the large fleets are their customers, right? And they understand exactly where the market is going. So that helps us align on the most critical pieces of what’s the business case, what’s the business model, what application makes the most sense, that led us to the automated side loader, the ASL as the body type for this first truck, that’s the highest growth segment of the refuse truck market. A lot of the the refuse fleets see the efficiencies that the ASL can provide, driving down the street picking up trash with that arm, right. So that helped us to align and with what body made sense. What market made the most sense, what fleets should we pre developed? And we actually did that together. So we actually had a private event for a number of customers, we brought them to our facility, to see the trucking process to understand where we were going to understand the Australian experience and the operating metrics. And to further convince us of what exact configuration what exact use case, what customer interest did we see which frankly, blew us away and really exceeded our expectations and really primed us to configure that truck in a way that would maximize its benefit to the US market and would give us a really strong Running Start with a customer base. That’s really what you see in our announcements where we have you know, nine major refuse fleets that are lined up to trial the truck starting in a matter of weeks, and that those fleets encompass the majority of the largest fleets in North America. Paul Rodden 8:15 What specific features of the Hyzon 200kW fuel cell system make it more efficient and cost-effective compared to its competitors? Parker Meeks 8:25 Yeah, I mean, look, generally, if let’s take two examples refuse truck first, and then the class eight, because by the way, the refuse collection vehicle, the garbage truck we all know and love. That’s what we’ve been talking about. Refuse companies need the class-8 as well, they hold 82,000 tons of trash from station to station. And I’ll just say battery trucks can’t do that very well, either. But we will come back to that. So in that, in a class 8 truck, a single 200 kilowatt fuel cell system has all the weight and volume and cost efficiencies that we talked about, right, versus the traditional approach of having to use two 120 kilowatt or so systems to provide the power that a attract the right so that lower weight, that ability to package the whole thing where the engine goes our 200 kilowatt fits nicely where the engine is supposed to go. And that’s important because fuel cells in the end are sensitive pieces of equipment. So you don’t want to hang them off the side of the trunk. And some people are having to put one of them inside of the truck or behind the cab. Not good for durability. Right. So those are some of the key advantages in a class eight in the refuse truck. Actually, our current refuse trucks use the 110 kilowatt, which is enough power and fuel efficiency to obviously do the work because the trucks are doing the work and they’re doing it at the same operating costs as combustion when fuel is below $10 a kilo. However, we believe the 200 kilowatt will create an even faster path to total cost of ownership pairing. And the reason is with a 110 kilowatt while it can do the work. Fuel cells love to be at 60% utilization, right? That’s where fuel efficiency maximizes and that’s where we think over time a fuel cell powertrain can be up to 50% more fuel efficient than a diesel power train, because of the efficiencies that we think we can glean, if that feels able to run at 60%, consistently, right, so 110 kilowatts, it is running higher than that more often than we would like, which does drive fuel efficiency lower, although it’s still good enough to beat diesel from a cost perspective. Now, with 200 kilowatts, we think that fuel efficiency gain will be tremendous. So it is a bit more expensive for us, obviously, to put a 200 kilowatt fuel cell into a refuse truck. We think in the end, that’s going to be a massive improvement, even beyond what we have today and range in performance. And in total cost of ownership giving us a faster path to TCO parity without subsidy. Paul Rodden 10:44 Can you elaborate on the pilot programs planned in California with Recology? What metrics will be used to assess the success of those programs? Parker Meeks 10:53 Great question. And that’s what we’re engaged even with Recology, the rest of our customer base on. It’s quite simple… these customers want to be able to put any truck on the road and do the work safely. And with high performance and uptime, and at the lowest cost possible, right. So the metrics we will be measuring. First of all, they’re going to be put on unconstrained combustion limits. So they’re gonna be doing all the work combustion does. And they need to do the work without refueling, right. So your typical refuse route in the US depending on density is anywhere from 1000 to 1800. Can lifts so that 1200 to 1400 can lift per day that 150 mile range, the average use case that we need to be able to deliver against, we’re hopeful to see how far that that can go, you know, can we in certain instances, go to 1500-1700 lifts, right? Additionally, the fueling time, right, we anticipate that truck should fuel and as low as 10 minutes, it’s actually only 26 kilos of fuel onboard, it’s half the fuel onboard that truck, it still delivers the range that we need to do combustion routes. So can we get through a 10 minute 15 minute refueling time consistently? And then, you know, what is the overall operating cost of that unit? Assuming fuel? is at a certain certain price point? Are we seeing the fuel efficiencies? Are we seeing the operating costs, like we did in Australia, where we’re already meeting diesel. Assuming fuel is less than 10 a kilo. And then the final piece is what is the uptime? Right? The trucks got to run. Do we have failures? We did We did not in Australia, which is tremendous. And frankly, a result that we didn’t expect is almost all new technology, first of its kind, fleet deployments has some kind of an issue. So having having downtime won’t be the end of the world. If it does happen. It happens in technology like ours. And but if it does happen, what’s the cause? Do we understand it? How long is it down? And how much confidence do we have at the end of the trial, that this is going to work. And again, based in Australia, we have very high confidence. We’re just excited to get it out there and put it on US roads and in the bay area first, and to move it on to SoCal from there. Paul Rodden 12:50 And speaking of Australia, How does Hyzon’s experience with hydrogen fuel cell implementation in Australia inform your strategies and expectations for the North American waste management market? Parker Meeks 13:02 I think it really sets the foundation for what the truck can do gives us the confidence in the learnings on how we deploy it as well. So with Remondis is and we’re so thankful to them to be the first customer globally to trial that vehicle and put it through its paces for such a long time. We’ve learned a lot of things, not just about how to run the truck in fully unconstrained routes, but also how we help our customers train. How we help our service providers train as well, how we work with local authorities to make sure that they’re trained up on if something happens, how do they need to respond to make sure that they can stabilize that the truck, and finally how we think about setting up the aftersales program and the entire ecosystem around it, which of course, we have learned from a class-8 side as well across all those fronts. But it just helps to have that unique experience in the refuse use case that we can certainly build upon. Because while the pickup was on the other side of the truck, most of the rest of the operations is pretty simple. Paul Rodden 13:56 What feedback have you received from waste management companies and municipalities about the hydrogen fuel cell refuse truck, I can only imagine it’s overwhelmingly positive. Parker Meeks 14:06 It is I mean, there’s a huge buzz and excitement that we have to deliver on. I’m looking right we’re quite excited to do but when they see the results from Australia when they see the truck now on the ground, right, and they understand the specs performance that we expect when they see a lot of technologies driven development for Hyzon period. And in the onroad use case of the class eight they know that we’re not coming into this without having done mobility high vibration use cases with our technology. At the unveil and waste Expo I’m proud that our partner New Way’s booth that we have the truck in was, we think the busiest but that’s a biased view. At the show, we had 10s of customers come to us talking about their interest in the truck. Our trial schedule is full we’re now having to try and say can we shorten certain trials for certain customers to try squeezing, squeezing some more and frankly, how fast can we get a second trial truck to market given all the demand. Paul Rodden 15:00 Speaking of waste management companies and municipalities, what is your vision of how this ecosystem could develop? Is this a scenario where they would contact you for the trucks and then one of your partner companies like Raven SR, to produce the hydrogen on site using their waste of hydrogen tech? What’s what is your blueprint to successfully scale that for those clients? Parker Meeks 15:23 I think you’re onto it, right? This is all about the first truly circular ecosystem, right? When we’re going fully from what they call well to wheel or well to tailpipe all in one location. Right. So the way that we see this working, first of all, let’s start with where you started the end customer, which in many cases, yes, the fleet buying the truck is one of the big fleet operators, right. But their customers in the end, are typically many times cities and municipalities that actually own the landfill who are contracting out, refuse collection services, right, and what’s happening in California, many of these cities and counties are actually putting into their RFP processes, requirements for zero emission vehicles as part of the fleet in the award decision. That’s what’s driving this significantly increased interest in zero emission trucks. That’s what’s driving the disappointment in the battery trucks who have been failing to deliver both on the revenue side and supply side heavy haul side, that’s what’s driven a lot of these fleets, despite the fact that things like the Advanced Clean Fleet Rule is being delayed. And that, you know, some other regulations may not be going as fast. There’s real commercial reasons now, for them to be able to compete, given the requirements that the cities and counties are putting in place. So the way we see it happening is exactly that. We’re now actively planning with our fleets about the trucks and fuel. Right on the backup trials. As I’ve said many times, the goal is of a trial run is the last proof point, have commercial contracts in place on the back of a trial to success with a multi year scale up agreement. And we have to in parallel help them by bringing our fueling partners to talk about. So in the near term, it’s going to be just like our class-8’s. It’ll be mobile fuelers, dispensing fuel on site, when we make the first five to 10 truck delivery. And then the second, you know, 10 to 30 truck delivery to mobile fueler or this kind of use case could probably fuel Up to 40 trucks at a single location before you need to go to a more permanent dispensing solution. And in parallel, these companies are actively looking at in many cases, you know, how do we produce hydrogen from landfill gas or from solid waste, all of which typically is a negative carbon zero or negative carbon intensity when you account for the methane would otherwise be released. And frankly, many cities and counties see it as an opportunity for them to monetize their landfill, and for their ability to, in some cases, create more room for more trash, which is a problem. Paul Rodden 17:46 Are there incentive programs being developed or offered to encourage waste management companies to adopt these new hydrogen fuel cell refuse trucks? Parker Meeks 17:55 There are actually many of it dovetails with what’s already in place, for instance, to California and The Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project, and some of the other disadvantaged community programs that provide additional incentive beyond the HVIP vouchers. But just to recap, for those that aren’t as aware, listening in, you know, California through the California Air Resources Board managed, HVIP a program provides vouchers for heavy duty fuel cell trucks that are $240,000 per truck as the base voucher amount today, there’s $300 million available in that fund today for class eight trucks. And that is amazing. We’re accessing that actively for our class 8 tractor program. Like for the trucks, we delivered to Performance Food Group and to […] over the last six to seven months. And those also will apply to be available to garnishments. You can stack on top of that additional tenant money. There’s a bonus program that can add up to I believe it’s $30,000 for a garbage truck specifically. And then there’s additional money available if you’re in a disadvantaged community if your truck is operating in a disadvantaged community and or if you’re a certain fleet size, when you stack up all the available incentives, if you could get up to $500,000 for a truck or a garbage truck. So for those fleets, what that means is if a diesel garbage truck today cost between $300,000-350,000, right… on diesel, we could charge up to $850,000 for a fuel cell truck and they’d be paying the same price as diesel…net net and that provides a lot of room for us to have a product that we can build that customers can afford. And then we can still hopefully generate positive cash back to the company like we’re doing today on a large fleet in the class-8 trucks. Paul Rodden 19:31 How does this new refuse truck fit into long-term goals for Hyzon in the heavy-duty commercial vehicle sector? Parker Meeks 19:38 Yeah, so I mean, look, it’s the refuse truck and also the overall refuse refuse customer base whichwe believe is huge opportunity for both the refuse truck and the class-8 and the way we see it. And eyes on we’re very focused on a very relatively low cash and capital need approach to scaling the technology stack to base. These credits to minimize the number of dispensing points that We need to fuel the trucks and it is paired with a single platform global 200 kw power train unit right. So the garbage truck that we are moving forward with is the one garbage truck that we’re gonna build globally. We have different right hand side, left hand side driving configuration, depending on where you are, you know, we believe that truck, even if that’s the only garbage truck we do, can’t scale into the hundreds just based on the market demand and the outperformance we see in fuel cell over battery and refuse trucks. Similarly, in refuse the class eight tractor for heavy haul I mentioned before, that is something that we should open up tremendously with equal if not higher demand from refuse fleets. And it’s because they do have this significant use case and having to move 82,000 pounds of trash from landfill to transfer station. That’s a very heavy haul. If you’re doing that most of California, there are hills, right. And so many of these fleets have been trying battery class eight trucks for some time, one of our fleet customers in our trial schedule, and has told us they’ve tried a number of different class 8 battery trucks for major OEMs. None of them have been able to do their 200 225 mile day. Yeah, so I’ll say that, again, these battery trucks can’t do a 200 mile route. Right? Because it’s heavy. And because there are hills, right. So what we’re seeing is even for class-8 and refuse is that because of the heavy loads, they need fuel cells to do that job. And we’re excited that, you know, most of these refuse fleets are trialing both, they’re both throwing the collection vehicle and they’re traveling the class-8 truck. So refuse to the segment because it has this back to base nature because they fleets are used to fueling with compressed gas is given most of their trucks today are compressed natural gas. In many cases, they’re used to capturing fuel on site. This is actually in many ways the easiest use case for us to scale into because the fuel can be made on site, the customer is used to fuel infrastructure on site, they all return to the same base. There’s high concentrations of trucks in a single location. And, frankly, fuel cells, the only powertrain that can do a zero emission job. Paul Rodden 22:02 I agree. Are there any future innovations or upcoming projects Hyzon is working on that build on the success of this hydrogen fuel cell refuse truck? Anything you would like to tease us with? Parker Meeks 22:14 Yeah, I think I kind of I’ve kind of started to hint at it earlier. But you know, with this hydrogen powered chassis, right, the base vehicle that the refuse body goes on top of that chassis can be the base vehicle for a number of different uses, right? So think about cement mixers. Think about even box delivery trucks, you know, think about boom trucks and lift trucks. That’s the vocational trucks space, right. So what we’re excited about is there’s a number of OEMs, who that’s their business is to provide a diverse array of vocational vehicles to power and gas utilities to water utility to departments of transportation, right. These are largely publicly funded entities that if you’re in California, and you’re a publicly funded entity, you need to start decarbonizing your fleet by mandate as soon as the advanced clean fleet rule is being enforced. And, and many of those public fleets are engaging around, where are my solutions for my impending decarbonisation need because again, anywhere you have a truck that spends a lot of its energy sitting still, on a garbage truck packing, packing that trash or like a cement mixer, mixing that cement sitting still, or like a power utility truck, who may be sitting still doing a boom or a lift or something else with a power takeoff. You know, most of the vocational world spends 40% of its fuel sitting still. So all that we believe would be very hard for battery because of how much battery weight you have to add on that truck. And those are all those are opportunities that many of which our current base vehicle could deliver against just with a different back end. Paul Rodden 23:48 That’s awesome. I’m excited to hear that. This has been an incredible conversation, and I am very excited about this new partnership offering between Hyzon and New Way. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. Parker Meeks 24:01 Paul, it’s always a pleasure to come on. And just want to say, you know, Hyzon… we’re quite excited about where we are and where we’re going and appreciate the engagement with you and with all of your audience. Check us out on our website, And if you’re at the ACT Expo coming up, or the other conference coming up soon, hope you were able to engage with you and to shape this future decarbonized world with use of our technology very very soon. So thanks so much, guys. Paul Rodden 24:26 We’ll be right there with you. Absolutely. All right, everyone. I want to thank Parker again for joining with me today to discuss his views on the hydrogen industry. Again, like Parker said, you can check out their website at to see everything that they have going on. Thanks again. Have a great day. Take care. Paul Rodden 24:44 Hey, this is Paul. I hope you liked this podcast. If you did and want to hear more. I’d appreciate it if you would either subscribe to this channel on YouTube, or connect with your favorite platform through my website at Thanks for listening. I very much appreciate it. Have a great day.