Two Bit da Vinci Wonders If The EV Future Is Batteries Or Hydrogen


How about a closer look at whether hydrogen-powered cars can find success.

At InsideEVs, we cover all electric vehicles, as long as they have a plug. While some people don’t realize it, hydrogen fuel cell cars (FCEVs) are electric vehicles. However, we don’t focus much on FCEVs since the technology is not very efficient and it’s highly limited in terms of location and adoption. Mostly due to the success of Tesla, more and more people are becoming aware of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). However, that’s not really the case with FCEVs. Is there a chance that fuel cell tech can eventually catch on and work to overtake battery-powered cars?

Battery-electric vehicles (BEV) have come a long way over a short period of time, mostly by virtue of the fact that electricity is readily available and charging infrastructure is continually growing at an increasing rate. Most people have electricity at home, and that has been true for many years. While road-tripping in a BEV might be an issue for people in some areas, that is quickly changing. Public charging infrastructure is nowhere near where it needs to be in order for BEVs to take hold immediately. However, we’re currently entering a major transitional period. Thus, over the course of the next few years, this issue should begin to become a thing of the past.

Some questions to entertain:

How many people have the ability to charge an FCEV at home? Where are hydrogen fueling stations available? How many FCEV vehicles are currently available, where can you get them, and how much do they cost?

The answers to these questions are obvious to most. Charging your FCEV at home is a “no go.” There are only a few cars available with the technology, they’re not cheap, and you can’t get them in most locations.

But, but, but … some of this was the case with electric vehicles initially as well. However, most people could always charge a BEV at home; there are several electric cars available in many areas; and charging infrastructure — while limited in some areas — does exist.

The real question here is … why are we even asking if FCEVs can gain traction?

Two Bit da Vinci dives deep into some of the best sources surrounding this topic to provide us with his take.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comment section below.

Video Description via Two Bit da Vinci on YouTube:

Why Battery Electric Cars are Dominating Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars

Today we’re discussing two different approaches to the electric vehicle: Batteries, and the hydrogen fuel cell. It’s no secret that batteries have been winning out, thanks largely to Tesla. But is there any future for the hydrogen fuel cell? And what might the the future for both technologies look like?



Link to Real Engineering’s Video:

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181 Comments on "Two Bit da Vinci Wonders If The EV Future Is Batteries Or Hydrogen"

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BEVs will be the winner for cars and light-trucks. FCEVs may find an application but they will be a niche market.

To be accurate, FC has never really “battled” the battery; a FCEV, IMO, has to have a large enough battery to act as a buffer, absorbing the energy of deceleration and providing on-demand acceleration w/o having to rapidly modulate the FC output. From what I understand, FC’s will do their best when operating in stable, goldilocks range of parameters, so revving up from idling to 100 kW in a second or two is not what FC’s do very well.

The FC’s is the nemesis of the ICE. I think most road vehicles will be plug-ins, some of which will be BEV, some with-, some without FC range extenders.

And I am not sure about hydrogen being the ‘ultimate’ fuel for the earth-bound FCEV’s. Perhaps soon we’ll have practical SOFC’s, in which you can “burn” anything from bovine flatulence to alcohol to LPG.

Well said. LPG FC for larger vehicles makes sense – there is widespread access to propane outside of cities.
My cottage has no access to the grid but it has a 500lb propane tank.
Not efficient, but accessible. There is a use case for that.

Or you could install solar+batteries… Probably not more expensive than a high-powered fuel cell.

Fuel cell vehicles with on-board reformers which can use a practical fuel may someday find a market beyond very tiny niche uses. But using compressed hydrogen for fuel will ever become widespread, for reasons that have very often been very thoroughly explained.

For example, here:

Unfortunately you’re whole premise relies on the idea that costs aren’t going to decrease. This is exactly the argument people were making a decade ago about batteries.

But let’s think of the cost of a hydrogen fuel cell car, effectively made up of four parts. The car body itself, it’s own battery, the fuel cell/storage, and the hydrogen. For the first two, they will track costs in a battery EV car, and although the battery will obviously be smaller, I think many people are surprised just how big it needs to be for the reasons Dimitrij states above. (Load averaging.) The next question is whether the smaller battery size cost saving can ever make up for the cost of the fuel cell. Apart from the complexity, fuel cells are also reliant on metals such as platinum for the catalyst, and overcoming that (against a background of falling battery price anyway) is going to be very hard. I don’t see it happening. And finally the hydrogen itself. If electrolysis is used, it must ALWAYS be at a big cost disadvantage as it’s far more efficient just to use the electricity to charge a battery – and we’re talking about a factor of around 3x. And unfortunately for hydrogen advocates, there’s little technology can do about this – it’s determined by fundamental physics in the main – how much… Read more »

Niche market? Who will pay 5 times more than gasoline for far less performance and heavier (Mirai is heavier than Bolt, never mind Corolla). I guess crazy people market is a niche market of sort.

The piece argues that this is due to lack of production at scale ala oil refineries, so hydrogen refineries may help bring costs down, and another factor would be that future advances may make this less costly, and some companies are investing heavily in this area in Japan, I guess they wanna try to capture that niche if/when that happens.

I’ll give them the benefit of a doubt and say maybe it can happen some day, especially if oil companies indeed feel the pinch and try to diversify into hydrogen refining maybe.

The other piece of the puzzle is what happens when ICE cars become inconvenient to drive around because of reduction in refueling locations or introduction of more carbon mitigation regulation, pushing more consumers toward EVs as gas or ICE prices go up.

Lots of variables at play.

Hydrogen has been produced at scale for industrial applications for a long time. Significantly increasing scale beyond that would require giant investments indeed — and there is not that much more to gain from it anyway…

You still have the added cost and complexity of setting up hydrogen pumping stations and transporting it there. Meanwhile battery technology is advancing as well. Several promise 2 to five times energy density and cheaper more common chemistries.

Those promoting the “hydrogen economy” hoax claimed that opening more and more H2 fueling stations in California would drive the price of the fuel down because of the advantage of scaling up.

But in reality, the price has actually gone up slightly in the past few years.

There isn’t any clever way around the laws of physics, nor basic economics, to make using compressed hydrogen either practical or affordable. If there was such a way, then we’d all be driving cars powered by perpetual motion engines.

And virtually every one of those H2 stations (of 1 or 2 pumps) was heavily subsidized by the taxpayers just as the H2 is heavily subsidized by the fool cell makers.

Clearly economically unsustainable.

Who would pay $400 for a battery!

It’s called economies of scale, along with the point that the cost of fuel is not the only cost of doing business. For some the extra cost of fuel over electricity may be negated by the convenience factor or some other cost relative factor.

There are plenty of people willing to pay $1000/kWh battery (ie, laptops, cell phone, etc). There is zero (other than crazy people) willing to pay 5X gasoline to increase scale to help bring down H cost.

As for convenience over electricity? What?!?! Going to fuel station like gasoline cars is more convenient than charging at home while sleeping? If they want the hassle of fuel station, they’d get gasoline cars, not H.

Right. People promoting fool cell cars keep arguing they are in certain ways more practical than BEVs, completely ignoring the fact that gasmobiles have the same advantages without the disadvantages.

BEVs have to compete with gasmobiles; there is no need to compete with hydrogen-powered fool cell cars, since those are utterly non-competitive, and will remain so.

So you’re in agreement with those that suggest ICE will never go away. Sure, it may be replaced by BEV in most scenarios, but in 30+ years there will still be a million+ ICE vehicles being produced?

Once EVs are cheaper than ICEs (in some situations we are already there) ICE sales will plummet. So who will buy an ICE that has no resale value?

How about you come up with an idea to power 50 vehicles at a temporary remote camp in the middle of nowhere. Solar would be the only option, but it would require a month or two, and a huge amount of transport to set up a system able to do so.

Here’s the problem with so many that argue against more niche uses of a product. You assume everyone lives/works in suburbia and travels 10 miles a day to their office and back. Sure, a lot of people do, but many don’t.

For examples like that it’s something like hydrogen, or they continue using ICE. There’s unlikely to be an EV option until we get batteries with an order of magnitude (or more) reduction in volume and (more importantly) weight.

Once again, you’re comparing BEV against FCEV. FCEV should be compared against gasoline cars since that’s the usage model. You can do everything that FCEV can do and more with gasoline cars for 5X lower price. Beat that before talking about anything else.

But how on earth would hydrogen be suitable for powering 50 vehicles at a temporary remote camp!?

I take your point about BEVs not being totally suitable for such at the moment either, but I don’t see how hydrogen solves that problem? Sufficient storage and distribution is FAR more difficult than for gasoline, and it’s very difficult to truck in.

And isn’t it a mistake to focus too hard on minority cases anyway? What you describe is hardly typical of most vehicle usage. Personally, I think such cases as you mention are better served by simply sticking with ICE for some years to come. If it ever came to BEVs being all that could be bought, then using diesel and a generator would be more practical than any solution involving hydrogen and fuel cells.

That might be the case for some niche uses — but these will *not* suffice to achieve the envisioned economies of scale. Not to mention that even at the same scale as BEVs, the gains still wouldn’t make hydrogen anything close to competitive.

There are two separate arguments in there.

There’s the debate about economies of scale to reduce costs, which would benefit anyone using it, and the practicality of using a fuel, where cost is much less of an issue.

The energy density of hydrogen is an order of magnitude greater than electricity. That means transporting it (whether by “fuel truck”, or in a vehicle itself) is much more practical in certain situations.

Energy density without regard to cost is ridiculous argument. Uranium is many orders of magnitude larger than H fuel cell. If only energy density is considered without regard to cost, we all should be driving fission powered cars.

Simple fact is, H is dead due to cost that’s many times higher than gasoline while providing zero benefit for the end user.

Jean-Baptiste Labelle

I agree hydrogen is dead but nlt because of price.
FCV cars have the same inherent advantages as EV (torque and performance, no vibration, silence, simpler…).
And they are not more expensive than diesel cars, but not really cheaper either.
So indeed, the FCV competes directly against EV and came in the discussion because of stricter emission standard.

Nonetheless, FCV are dead because the value proposition was to have range and easy refilling.
But with:
1/ lack of infrastructure
2/ high cost of operating (compared to EV)
3/ EV proposing at last enough range (200-300 miles onward) + fast charging station network
The FCV has no real benefits to offer anymore (for cars) and plenty of downsides (poor efficiency of the whole chain, risk of hydrogen tank, no infrastructure and costly to deploy, no charging at home, no models…).

FCEV power is not the same as BEV power. FC is well suited for constant power usage (ie, space applications), but not well suited for fluctuating demand. This is why Mirai is so wimpy despite weighing 400 lb heavier than Bolt.

I can forsee a future of FCEV autonomous semi trucks; they could cruise on the highway without a driver, stopping only once a day for hydrogen at a truck stop. Then when they near their destination, a local driver hops in and takes care of parking the trailer, etc.

The semis could serve to develop FCEV technology by making it cheaper, more compact, more powerful, etc. This could then allow FC technology to be used in other applications, such as emergency backup generators, massive renewable energy storage, small scale remote power generation, cargo ships, long-haul trains, aircraft, etc.

Hydrogen is *way* too inefficient to be viable for energy storage. The suggestion that this could ever make sense is just propaganda circulated by hydrogen proponents.

While it’s true that for an autonomous vehicle on very long distance routes, with no need for rest stops, faster refuelling is more relevant, the small time gain is completely negated by several times higher energy costs. And that’s not something any technology improvements can fix.

Ocean-going ships, and possibly air planes, are the only niches I can think of where hydrogen *might* make sense.

@ antrik

“Ocean-going ships, and possibly air planes, are the only niches I can think of where hydrogen *might* make sense.”

Long term (2040?) that could indeed be a possible outcome.

Jean-Baptiste Labelle

Not sure i would like to fly on a huge hydrogen tank…

I’m not sure efficiency will be an important issue. Keep in mind, despite all the improvements, gasoline and diesel engines remain an incredibly inefficient propulsion system in terms of energy transmission to moving the vehicle.

The problem with fool cell vehicles isn’t the fuel cell stack; it’s using hydrogen as fuel. If you want to make FCEVs practical, then fuel them with a practical fuel.

No matter how many times this is pointed out, for some reason some people don’t get the message.

Like the dozens of multi billion dollar companies, the dozens of huge economic powerhouse governments?

Pushmi, random guy on the internet #38847662, you should go tell them that they’re doing silly things. 😉

Alternatively they may know a few more things than you, or have plans that you hadn’t considered.

To throw a technology under a bus because it’s not viable now is not how technological innovation works.

The idea, the concept, of using hydrogen and fuel cells for transport started a long time ago, in response to calls to cut vehicle emissions. Twenty years ago, the very idea of batteries for car (let alone truck) use was simply not seen as viable, except where very short ranges were acceptable. Hence the idea of governments and companies trying to look for alternatives to ICE, and advance such as hydrogen technology. Move on twenty years, and we’re in a different place. Batteries now have advanced beyond all expectation – in performance, charging abilities, and – most importantly – in lower cost. Whilst hydrogen technology has not really moved on very far. So it leaves us with the situation where a few companies are still pursuing hydrogen because they are already deeply committed, and research money is still available to investigate all options. But it’s increasingly being seen as a dead end for general road transport – maybe rail, maybe shipping, so worth still investigating, but for road use – increasingly no. So it’s not a case of Pushmi-Pullyu, me, or any other “random guy on the internet” telling anybody they are doing silly things – it’s increasingly a case… Read more »

Tunny said:
“So it’s not a case of Pushmi-Pullyu, me, or any other “random guy on the internet” telling anybody they are doing silly things…”

Here’s what Wan Gang, the father of China’s EV industry, is now saying:

“After spending billions of dollars in subsidies for lithium-battery electric cars, China should now shift its focus toward developing vehicles using the competing hydrogen fuel-cell technology.” Wan said the “benefits of fuel-cell vehicles include long driving range, short refueling time and zero emissions.”

“Battery electric vehicles, which are currently more popular, can’t meet the needs of long-distance buses, taxis, or urban logistics and long-haul transport due to their short driving range and long charging time, he said. Wan is the former minister of science and technology and known as the father of China’s electric-car industry, having successfully helped to steer the country toward EVs starting about two decades ago.”

Just “who is Wan Gang?” you might be asking. He’s the dude who pushed China to leapfrog the West in electric vehicles.

Wan Gang is the father of of the Chinese EV industry. Two decades ago, he fomented China’s EV revolution by persuading “China’s State Council to throw its vast power behind the risky, unproven technology of electric cars. He advocated using government money, including subsidies, to help create a world champion industry that would surpass Western automakers.”

Impartial Observer – That is one article, and one voice. In contrast, the vast majority of new electric-based cars and buses actually taking to the roads are battery electric – not hydrogen. I can’t answer why any one person – including yourself – may argue for hydrogen, but in some cases it may be as simple as vested business interest. I’ll take one quote from the article you refer to: “Toyota is furthest along with commercialization of fuel-cell vehicles, having sold its Mirai model since 2014. The Mirai, priced at about $60,000 to $80,000 depending on the market, can run about 500 kilometers (310 miles) on a single tank of hydrogen, which can be refueled in three minutes. By comparison, charging electric battery vehicles can take hours.” Charging CAN take hours – but with fast charging may only take 30 minutes to give a high proportion of range back. And at 310 miles, that’s barely comparable to the range of the best BEVs around today anyway (without realistic possibilities of any recharging at home). And the real trouble with hydrogen cars (apart from the fuel costs at present) is that to get decent performance they themselves must have a decent… Read more »

Perhaps military vehicles. Torque, noise and in-field maintenance advantages, and provides electric power for outpost computers & comm.

Jean-Baptiste Labelle

BEV IS the winner, already.

Hydrogen production needs energy. And its distribution needs energy. Why not to put that energy directly in cars?. Electricity is very accesible in most of countries and for most of the people. Is cheap, and we can produce it from susteinable sources. So I think EVs may be the first option. But maybe, Fuel cell and hydrogen, could have their opportunity for some purposes. I can’t see an EV crossing a desert or a jungle, but yes a fuel cell car, perhaps producing electricity from alcohol or any other thing, easy to obtain, store, deliver and use as gasoline.

Yes, a fuel cell vehicle using fuels *other* than hydrogen might make sense for some niche uses. OTOH, they are so niche that it’s unclear whether it’s worth the effort (and cost) over just using traditional combustion engines…

I don’t know why they’re going through all these contortions. There’s one and only one reason why Hydrogen is non starter: it costs about 5 times more than gasoline. France erupted in protests even with few percent increase in fuel price, imagine how many politicians will be put to guillotine if fuel price went up by 500%.

At least people in France stand up for something.

I hope that’s meat to be sarcasm…

Do Not Read Between The Lines


Here the list of important factors for the success of HFCV:
1) Cell Cost
2) Fuel cost
3) Refueling infrastructure cost

Here’s the list of important factors for the success of BEV:
1) Battery cost

2) energy density
3) recharging speed

Hydrogen is far more energy dense than Lithium batteries at the moment, even if it is less dense than petrol/diesel/gas.

….those hurdles have already been overcome.

Nope, batteries are still massively heavy and take up a lot of space. They’ve definitely got better, but energy density is still an issue.

Yet Bolt is lighter, more powerful, more space than Mirai.

The battery is heavier but the motor drive is around 100lbs with the performance of a V6. A V6 Engine, transmission and all it’s other components (alternator, radiator exhaust ect…) these almost completely offset the battery weight. In other works the “Net” weight difference really isn’t much at all, maybe a few hundred pounds. So your answer about the weight issue is completely WRONG..
And here’s another way to look at it. Engines have had 100yrs to get better and 20% efficiency is as good as it gets. EV’s and Batteries…we’re only starting!
FYI an EV gets 3000+km to a tank of gas. i.e. $60 of gas in a Honda civic goes about 600km city/hwy combined. When I put $60 of electricity into my Chevy Bolt EV I go 3000km, and in warmer temps above 19C I go a whopping 4000km!!! With a battery range of 400km, and 0-100 in 6.5sec! Once you own an EV you really realize what a joke gas cars are…and thats in a Chevrolet, I can only imagine the delight from a Tesla owner but I’ve heard it’s incredible.

EV charge in about 10 seconds almost all the time since you go to sleep / eat / shop. H takes minutes (or hours in LA traffic) to drive to fuel station. Even for long trips, unless you happen to be going to area with H station, BEV will be quicker since there are more numerous DCFC sites.

As for energy density, if someone made nuclear fission powered car for $1 billion and cost million times more to fuel, yeah, that’ll be really popular among the really crazy people.

Ironic you use nuclear fission as an example, because people do use them as a viable energy generating method even though they are significantly more expensive than hydrocarbon fuel – Looked at any aircraft carriers and submarines recently…? They cost a lot more to manufacture and maintain, but their benefits in the applications outweigh the financial cost. Would they make sense in a car? No, but that’s irrelevant, hydrogen systems are a lot smaller, lighter and less dangerous. The cost/benefit point is relevant however.

And sure, currently a BEV would be a better bet for long distance driving (tbh an ICE would be the best option right now). That’s because there’s more infrastructure available. Current infrastructure doesn’t mean future infrastructure. Many more niche applications could be solved by having a hydrogen station in/near routes being travelled by the hydrogen powered vehicle.

Again, this is ironically an identical argument used against BEV’s a decade ago (and it’s still, accurately in many places, used today).

Aircraft carriers use fission due to having large benefit for cost. What is the benefit for H FCEV over gasoline for the end user that warrant 5X higher cost? There is zero benefit for the end user.

BEV always had benefit over gasoline in that they offer 10 second charging time convenience, having instant “throttle” response, and cheaper to fuel. That’s why they are superior benefit per cost compared to gasoline.

Once again, what benefit does H FCEV bring to the end user to warrant paying 5X more for H compared to gasoline? There isn’t one.

BEVs don’t need to compete with fool cell cars; they only need to compete with gasmobiles. Once the problem with ultra-fast-charging BEVs is solved, nobody in their right mind would ever again suggest using fool cell cars for anything beyond a science experiment… which is the only thing they are useful for.

So 1 million+ ICE vehicles in production in 30 years then? And we’ll never remove all ICE vehicles from production then. Got it.

Currently Hydrogen is basically the only other option for those vehicles, so either there’s a technology we don’t know about yet, or people/organisations continue driving around in ICE vehicles for decades to come.

Paying 5X higher price to fuel is not “other option”. That’s like literally flushing money down the toilet as an option compared to buying cheeseburger.

Hydrogen is more energy dense by mass, not volume. Most energy dense by volume is gasoline. Overall vehicle mass of Toyota’s Mirai is on par with Tesla Model S. Hydrogen is light, but needs very strong tanks to hold at very high pressure. It is not at all obvious that hydrogen has a lot of room for improvement vs batteries. H2 might be compressed a little more or the fuel cell increase efficiency from 60% to 80% but this is nothing compared to batteries that have theoretical efficiency improvements of greater than 10 times. No visible path to make pollution free H2 cheaper than electricity because the best way to make H2 is from water using electricity. Then you have the expense of compression, shipping, and fuel cell in car to convert back to electricity.

That’s the point I’m making. You can transport a lot more Hydrogen on the back of a lorry than you can electricity, by around an order of magnitude.

Once batteries get to their theoretical limit (you’re 10 times) then things may be around even. Until that point hydrogen still has that advantage (a major one for some people).

Cost of the product (hydrogen) is far less important to many companies and industries than the practicality and overall cost of using it.

Pay 5x the cost for fuel, but only need two trucks to travel the 300km/ two day trip through the desert to the mobile camp, or pay 1/5th of the cost, but require 16-20 lorries and drivers to do the same route. Extreme, but real example of the issue.

Or pay 1/5 of H price for gasoline and travel far more places and even more convenient of having extra fuel containers to go into the middle of nowhere.

Jean-Baptiste Labelle

BEV are taking off BECAUSE the cost is becoming more attractive than diesel.
People are not switching because of environmental reasons but because cost of operating is now reaching parity or even lower with the advantages that bring EV.
People would NEVER switch to FCV is not cheaper and the thing is that hydrogen will remains always too expensive versus EV (for the simple fact that you need less electricity in an EV than to produce H).

I can’t really add anything of value as engineers and others have pretty much said it all. What I would say is, this effort by Toyota will probably deserve an entire chapter in “The Book of Bad Business Decisions.”

152 horsepower, 247 lb-ft torque from the AC traction motor used in Mirai.

That’s a component essential for a future EV that is already in real-world use. Imagine that transferred over to a Corolla with a plug. Toyota is clearly planning ahead for widespread reuse of their developing technology. Nothing bad about that.

If there was any rational planning involved, they’d be developing their technology with BEVs (or serious PHEVs) — which are viable today — rather than fuel cell vehicles, that might perhaps become viable some time in the future, if you buy the propaganda…

Why don’t you consider the priority of being affordable for the masses serious? Sacrificing price for the sake of more range & power was a gamble which clearly didn’t pay off for GM.

Keep in mind that a fuel-cell vehicle is an EV with a small battery-pack to supplement the stack. All the necessary components are used for electric-only propulsion. So, the technical expertise & experience provides a dual benefit. Heck, even the platform itself can be shared as Honda has demonstrated with Clarity.

Toyota is refining design while waiting for the uncertainty from Tesla and the mess with GM to settle down. There is simply no reason to rush to a market still in the early-adopter stage.

Jean-Baptiste Labelle

Uncertainty of Tesla?!?
Market on early-adopter when China already sold 700 000 EV just last year.
Have you live under a rock?

In terms of brute force microeconomics, HFCVs are a non-starter now and are even less attractive as battery prices continue to decline.

But from a longer term and broader perspective, HFCVs are an atrocious idea for a somewhat more complex reason.

We desperately need to reduce our CO2 emissions a lot and ASAP. Two of the big CO2 emissions sources are transportation and electricity generation. Because it takes roughly three times as much energy per mile driven to “fuel” an HFCV as a BEV, we simply can’t afford to squander that much clean electricity generation at a time when we’re already hard pressed to clean up the electricity sector.

There is a chance HFC technology will find one or more niches, as many here and elsewhere have pointed out. But in terms of what spins the wheels on family and small business vehicles, H is a laughably long shot.

H will fill any niche that can afford to use 5X more expensive than gasoline and return over 5X better result (more like 10X to 100X better due to new tech). Currently, only oil refinery can use it for that purpose in large scale. If there’s not much need for oil, that also kills H use.

Thank you for pointing out the very real problem that using hydrogen as an energy carrier is a very, very long way from being “green”. Promoting the “hydrogen economy” hoax is just one form of greenwashing, and one which unfortunately has fooled a lot of those who are concerned about reducing pollution and global warming.

You can see how successful that hoax has been from this article, and from the various comments here supporting the “hydrogen economy”. 🙁

Might as well just burn gasoline rather than utilize very inefficient H2.

In terms of CO2, that’s certainly true in most cases. Fuel cells however can at least avoid toxic emissions…

(Though of course EVs are a way more practical way to avoid those.)

As has been often pointed out: Your daily needs can be covered with a range of 100-200 miles easily. Let’s say 150 mile range from a 35 kWh battery. Hauling around (and producing) an additional 40 kWh just for a few days in the year is extremely unefficient and does not make up for any conversion losses in producing hydrogen. So that road-trip-range could be covered by a hydrogen tank and fuel cell. If you are on longer trips, a small fuel cell would be enough, since you only need to cover the average power needs.

That way you get best of both worlds: Charge at home most of the time, but still be able to go on long trips easily and quickly.

The disadvantage is that the hydrogen system also uses up space and makes your car heavier. So why carry that hydrogen system each day of the year when you use it only sometimes? That’s just the same question as why to carry a big battery each day…

Yup. Mirai with it’s 300 miles range tank is almost 400 lb heavier than Bolt while producing 60 HP less. So much for H being lighter than batteries.

The fuel cell and hydrogen tank are unlikely to be any less heavy than the additional battery capacity.

And no, the efficiency loss from hauling around a bigger battery isn’t anywhere near that of using hydrogen.

If I wanted that I’d have a range extender combustion engine with a tank that I can fill up anywhere. In fact, I drive one.

By the time they get a fuel cell at a practical cost and widely accepted as a redundant backup in a car, a common battery will get you a 1000+km and charge up in 10min with charging network denser than gas stations.

After living with an electric car, there is no way I am going get a vehicle I have to fuel at a station. You got fuel being pumped into your house at night and it’s dirt cheap!


An FCV can be the same. A small battery (40 miles range) for fueling at home, plus a small fuel cell for fueling on the road. The key to hydrogen is that it can be used to store solar power. Doing the same with batteries will basically double the needed battery capacity.

You forgot cost. Mechanism to make H at home is very expensive when you consider pump that’ll operate to 10,000 PSI. In addition to pump maintenance, there are consumables, like the electrodes, water filters (can’t use tap water as-is), etc. etc. And these are in addition to DC to AC inverter and wires in BEV.

Due to economy of scale, having home unit will cost as much as BEV, never mind the on-going maintenance cost. No one will setup home H station, and lack of economy of scale will not lower the price.

It’s worse than that. A Simple Fuel home H2 generation/ compression/ storage unit costs $250,000-$300,000, and has the footprint of a small car.

Not exactly practical!

Batteries are a more efficient method of storing solar power (both in terms of energy and cost) than hydrogen.

“Doing the same with batteries will basically double the needed battery capacity.”

Yes, and so what? You only have to pay for the battery pack once. With hydrogen fuel, you have to keep paying for the profligately wasteful and very polluting (on a well-to-wheel basis) fuel over and over and over again.

Complaining about larger battery packs being needed for BEVs is about as pointless as complaining that cars need 4 wheels instead of 2. Larger battery packs are better for several reasons; they are not at all a disadvantage.

By the time they get a fuel cell at a practical cost to act as a redundant backup in a car, a common battery will get you a 1000+km and charge up in 10min with charging network denser than gas stations. Enough with the fuel cell rubbish already.

HFCV’s are great for compliance since they are absolutely showered in ZEV credits by CARB that for mysterious reasons promotes a technology rather than the outcome it is supposed to be promoting: lower emissions. Beyond that it’s just too expensive. The cost of distributed hydrogen will need to come down with 70- 80% to be competitive with gasoline in cars and diesel in heavy trucks to find a niche for itself. That’s unlikely ever to happen and it still wouldn’t be competitive with electric cars. On top of that there is the (maintenance) cost of the vehicles that still has to come down by probably that same 70-80%. Could such spectacular cost reductions be realized some day? The laws of physics are definitely not working in hydrogen’s favor…

Wholeheartedly agree!

Chris O said:
“HFCV’s are great for compliance since they are absolutely showered in ZEV credits by CARB…”

Wrong. BEVs and HFCVs earn the same amount of CARB ZEV credits based on their driving range. It’s been that way for a couple of years now.

HFCVs also benefit from the fast refueling provision defined as “Fast refueling vehicles are those capable of replacing 95 percent of a vehicle’s range in under 15 minutes”. Notice how that language is cleverly designed to rule out BEVs. This increases maximum credits from 4 to up to 9. Also HFCVs still befit from the travel provision that was abolished for plug-ins: The travel provision allows automakers to receive credits in all other ZEV states for vehicles sold in California, proportional to the vehicles sales in the states. So that’s a nice ZEV multiplier for HFCVs and explains why they are still popular among some car makers as high yield compliance cars.

Chris O said:
“HFCVs also benefit from the fast refueling provision . . . This increases maximum credits from 4 to up to 9.”

Wrong. That’s the old CARB calculation that has been superseded for a couple of years now. The maximum CARB credit for all ZEVs, whether BEV or HFCV, is now 4 credits based solely on the ZEV’s Average Electric Range (AER). However, HFCVs do retain the “travel provision,” while BEVs and OHEVs do not have a “travel provision.”

From InsideEVs:
“Battery electrics and fuel cells receive between 1 and 4 credits. . . The amount of credits earned for each vehicle is directly related to range. . . For BEV’s and HFCV’s, the Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule (UDDS) is used for calculations. . . The EPA Label range is approximately 70% of the UDDS range.”

It’s actually the other way around, the fast refueling provision was only proposed a couple of years ago (2014) as a bonus for hydrogen on top of the 4 credit cap based on range. If the proposal didn’t make it or was since abolished I would like to see a source for that.

…and that travel provision is a huge boon for hydrogen of course.

Nope, the travel provision is not a “huge” boon for hydrogen. It just gives more time for non-California CARB states to build their hydrogen fueling infrastructure. Automakers would have to sell more HFCVs in California than they are required in order to make up for the shortfall of HFCV sales in other CARB states. The hard “4 credit cap” for all ZEVs went into effect for the 2018 model year (fall 2017). Not quite the “couple of years” that I claimed. My bad. No intent to mislead. At the bottom of every page of the new ZEV regulations it says “Effective Date 01/01/2016.” I misremembered that date as the date on which the “4 credit cap” went into effect. Current & Previous ZEV regulations: ZEV regs for 2018 and subsequent model years – SEE PAGE 7: Page 7 – §1962.2(d)(5) (5) Credits for 2018 and Subsequent Model Year ZEVs. (A) ZEV Credit Calculations. Credits from a ZEV delivered for sale are based on the ZEV’s UDDS all electric range, determined in accordance with the “California Exhaust Emission Standards and Test Procedures for the 2018 and Subsequent Model Zero-Emission Vehicles, and Hybrid Electric Vehicles in the Passenger Car, Light-Duty… Read more »

I’m pretty sure that’s a lie.

“…showered in ZEV credits by CARB that for mysterious reasons…” For all except the last few years the chairman of the board for CARB was also a board member on a large oil company. That is why ZEV credits favor H2. The official reason is the faster fill time, but of course they don’t consider the convenience of charging your car at home as equivalent to near instant fill time.

Mary D. Nichols has been the chairwoman of CARB since 2007. Neither she, nor any of her predecessors, have been a board member of an oil company. Stop making up conspiracy theories and spreading Fake News!

Roy is almost right,it’s actually Mary Nichols husband that is connected to oil interests. So yes, the chairwoman of CARB is literally in bed with oil interests.

Trains, planes, and ocean going ships are the market for hydrogen. You need vast stores of energy that are rarely refueled mid journey.


H is not market for them since they can operate on diesel or natural gas. Considering 1 mmbtu nat gas (292 kWh) is about $2.50 ($0.0086/kWh), vs H that’s $16.50/33 kWh ($0.50/kWh), and you’re talking 58 times more expensive to run on H.

Even if you somehow make H 10 times cheaper, you’re still talking 5.8 times more expensive to run than nat gas. That ain’t happening.

Railway trunk lines are already largely electrified in many parts of the world; while branch lines increasingly add batteries to cover the gaps.

And what about railways like the Gahn, which is only one of at least three similar railways in Australia, and hundreds more around the world, including in North America. The tracks will never be electrified and there are hundreds of km between stops. That’s either a LOT of batteries, continued use of oil, or another technology, perhaps H2, perhaps something else.

I’d argue for such as the Ghan, then currently diesel is optimal. But it’s a niche case, so in overall terms not that important, and the emissions are largely in unpopulated areas. Either way, hydrogen is as infeasible as batteries – you’ve got to think of the problems of transporting it to the refuelling stations.

Nope. Even highly compressed, H2 has much too low an energy density by volume to ever compete with diesel or aviation fuel.

Biodiesel or fully synthetic aviation fuel will be much more practical and affordable than insanely trying to use H2 to fuel a ship or an airplane, and would be carbon-neutral.

I don’t get why this is seen as an ‘either-or’ question. As the meme goes, ‘why not both?’

We’ve had all these years of petrol and diesel cars being on the road at the same time and each having their pros and cons… and yet people still don’t think that BEVs and fuel cell vehicles can exist alongside each other. Why not?

” Why not? ”
Do you think petrol and diesel would coexist if diesel (say) were 5x the price of petrol ? That’s one reason why.
The other is you would need to build a massively expensive H2 infrastructure to rival Petrol/diesel at many times the cost of building out an electric charging equivalent.
So, essentially simple economics, which is usually the deciding factor in a tussle.

Gas/diesel is a comparison of vastly similar qualities. You maybe get ~30% difference in MPG between the two. BEV/FC in contrast is a 200% difference in energy required to fuel/run them. Yes, they are the same in emissions if the ‘fuel’ source is carbon free, but if it is not, FCEVs are 200% the pollution of BEVs.
If the goal is lower emissions, FCEV has lost it’s way.

It’s not even just a petrol/Diesel argument. There are about half a dozen (or more) different energy systems in use on roads and in commercial/industrial applications now. Petrol and Diesel are by far the most widely used, but LPG, Propane, BEV (for decades, not just modern) and among the others. Many of them are more expensive and/or don’t have the “widespread infrastructure” that Petrol/Diesel does, yet vehicles are still made to utilise them. Why? Because they are the most efficient/practical for the niche they are were designed for.

The idea that BEV’s will replace all of those fuel/propulsion sources is a pipe dream. There will be situations where hydrogen is a better bet, there may well be situations where Petrol is still a better bet. Not necessarily in smaller town cars like the Mirai, but certainly in bigger vehicles in more remote locations, or vehicles in controlled locations.

In before “but you could set up acres of solar every day to charge your car in that remote place”. 😉

The various fossil fuels can co-exist, because they only have rather marginal advantages over each other. BEVs on the other hand are vastly superior to anything else, except for some niche uses. (Where traditional fuels most will remain more viable than hydrogen.)

Acres of solar? Bolt gets about 4 mi/kWh (65 MPH) and most people drive about 40 miles a day. That’s 10 kWh per day even with all freeway driving. Even 2 kW system will easily produce more than that, and such small system only takes 8 panels, 120 sq ft, about the size of a storage shed.

Now if you want H from solar, you’ll need about 3X the size due to inefficiency.

*Groan* “Most people”. You’ve obviously missed the point of the post entirely. “Most People” drive petrol or Diesel cars now, rather than the more niche vehicles. To take your (quite frankly farcical) example (and use your numbers): With a small, efficient car, on a paved road you’ll need around 500lb of equipment and an entire day to charge it (assuming a clear sky) to go 40 miles. That’s not practical in the slightest. Now a real world example*: A large 4×4, driving off road a hundred miles a day. Lets be optimistic and say it’s super efficient and is 3 mi/kWh, that’s a requirement of around 33kW, which would require more solar panels than you could put in the back of you’re vehicle. And then you’d need to double it, as you can’t wait around an entire day before you head out again… Now consider there may be 10 of those cars, all needing charging. How many trucks would you need to lug in that solar system? How long would it take to install and take down? Solar is not currently (and probably won’t be until flexible 80%+ panels are available) practical for this kind of application. These guys are… Read more »

You’re the one who mentioned acres of solar. I gave you the actual numbers using actual cars. If you think reality is farcical well, umm, I can see why you like FCEV.

For those who wants / needs to go to fuel station, they can simply use gasoline cars. If you consider the real world (ie, gasoline exists), there is zero point to H FCEV.

Jean-Baptiste Labelle

You take the example of 10 cars having all to charge for 40 times the average daily distance but if you start to speak statistics, you have to consider the average.
While some will need more energy, it means others need less, so this solar energy is available back to the network for the one that need more.
The huge advantage of EV is that you may cover the entire world transport need with just thise panels on each home and have transportation 100% clean.
No other tech so far can offer that.

Andy – quote: “Now a real world example*: A large 4×4, driving off road a hundred miles a day. Lets be optimistic and say it’s super efficient and is 3 mi/kWh, that’s a requirement of around 33kW, which would require more solar panels than you could put in the back of you’re vehicle.” With all respect, your examples of powering many vehicles in remote locations are hardly typical of *MOST* driving and vehicle use. OK, they exist, and you want an answer to “what do we do?” My own feeling is that for the foreseeable future “carry on using diesel” is the best solution, as we’re talking about a small minority situation. This thread is predominantly about “hydrogen/fuel cell versus battery electric”, and if you (maybe correctly) think BEVs are not appropriate for the situation, I fail to see how hydrogen would be any better? If you’re not aware, bulk transport of hydrogen has many problems, not least the weight of the necessary container. A gasoline or diesel tanker will have roughly half of the fully laden weight as payload. With hydrogen, the weight of the necessary pressure vessel means a tanker can only have a max payload of around… Read more »

The question is what is going to become the dominant technology for wheeled vehicles in the future. It would be an absurd waste of money to build out a nationwide network of H2 fueling stations so they can be used everywhere. It’s not going to happen, for economic reasons… quite aside from the impracticality of using a gas as highly impractical (and highly inefficient) as a fuel as H2 is in the first place.

I think any objective analysis would show that we’d be far better off using CNG or LPG as the fuel for heavy trucks. Yet we keep using diesel, not because it’s better, but because the infrastructure is already in place. If something is going to replace diesel for most trucks, then it needs to be a technology which is significantly cheaper per mile, significantly less polluting, yet just as convenient, as using diesel. That’s the only way that any possible competition can win against the entrenched advantage of the diesel refining and distribution network.


Why is that the question? It may be your question, but it’s not even the question of the person that started this thread of posts in the first place.

Personally, as I’ve said multiple times, I don’t think hydrogen will be the dominant fuel of the future, especially for smaller vehicles. I do however think that it could be an option for some situations, just as LPG/Propane and historic electric has been for decades.


The only thing on the horizon which has a chance competing is BEV tech. Using hydrogen just doesn’t cut it; it’s profligately wasteful of energy, it’s far more expensive than diesel, and on the basis of well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions, isn’t much better than diesel. The fueling stations are also far, far more expensive to build and maintain that diesel fueling stations.

Yes, we do need a replacement for gasoline and diesel. H2 isn’t it, and never will be. Period. For some reason, this seems to be a concept that some people find difficult to grasp. Especially — pardon me for being blunt — especially people who aren’t scientifically literate.

What is your solution then? What replacement should we use? BEV isn’t going to be able to replace it so rather than poo pooing a technology you don’t think will work in that capacity, why not suggest an alternative?

Andy – quote “What is your solution then? What replacement should we use? BEV isn’t going to be able to replace it so rather than poo pooing a technology you don’t think will work in that capacity, why not suggest an alternative?”

Carry on using diesel/gasoline. BEVs will be (are?) suitable to take over for the vast majority of road use, which is what is most important. It’s not really important that EVERY single ICE engine gets replaced – just the vast majority. The point is that hydrogen is arguably a WORSE option than diesel/gasoline, and whilst small scale BEV is practical to an extent (charge overnight off domestic supply), any hydrogen road usage would really need building a dedicated infrastructure. For a small number of vehicles, that would be foolish.

You don’t understand the issue. The issue is that trying to use compressed hydrogen to fuel cars and trucks (let alone ships and planes) is and always will be utterly impractical. Fool cell cars exist beyond a few experimental prototypes here and there only because Big Oil is promoting the “hydrogen economy” hoax in an effort to divert attention and resources away from the EV revolution.

It’s not a matter of whether or not BEVs and fool cell cars can “co-exist”, it’s that the efforts to promote using fool cell cars are the result of a somewhat successful lobbying attempt by Big Oil, to divert tax dollars to a false “hydrogen economy” and away from government support for the EV revolution.

The fact that you and others think that it might even be possible for hydrogen-powered cars and other vehicles to someday be practical, is a measure of just how successful Big Oil has been in promoting this hoax. It’s right up there with denying that global warming is real.

This is the third attempt for FCEVs to be relevant. FCEVs were originally promoted as an answer to the oil embargo crisis in the 70’s then the smog crisi of the 90’s.
Hydrogen’s dirty secrets are
– that it primarily comes from steam reforming methane releasing CO2 in the process
– that if produced from electrolysis the production, compression process consumes twice as much electricity as battery electric vehicles making FCEVs unsustainable
– green hydrogen would require 24/7 production and affect grid loading peaks
– dirty hydrogen costs more than gasoline and green hydrogen costs twice as much as gasoline
– hydrogen cars are 1 third as efficient in the use of input energy than battery vehicles
– FCEV hydrogen tanks expire in the 15th year (like BBQ tanks) and must be replaced
– replacement costs for the tanks are prohibitive
– the biggest reason that FCEVs are being pushed so hard is the fossil fuel industry lobby who want to sustain their gas station model and use methane to produce hydrogen

People have been trying to make battery cars for 120 years and they finally seem to have done so in the last few.

There have been numerous concerted efforts to make electric vehicles mainstream in all those years, yet they all failed for one reason or another. There were niche vehicles (like the electric milkfloat that has been around for close to 100 years) and vehicles that were killed off after they just didn’t make economic/practical sense.

Basically, most of the arguments against Hydrogen are well work arguments that have been trotted out against battery powered vehicles for decades. It’s kinda ironic that those same arguments are being used by BEV enthusiasts against a technology that complements their own.

While it’s true that BEVs needed a long time to catch up and re-enter the mainstream, the arguments against hydrogen vehicles are *not* the same. Hydrogen challenges are much larger qualitatively and quantitatively — and now they’d not only have to beat combustion cars, but *also* BEVs.

They don’t, any more than Petrol had to beat diesel, LPG had to beat propane, or Tesla have to beat the mainstream manufacturers.

There are hundreds of millions of vehicles in the world. Many in very specific niches. Hydrogen doesn’t have to beat BEV’s in everything, it just needs to beat it in one situation (or be overall more practical/cheaper) to be relevant.

Currently it has a far greater energy density than BEV, it’s more transportable ad hoc and it can be stored cheaper. Those are all points that mean in some scenarios it may be cheaper than BEV’s.

As Spudley said in the previous thread, it’s not an “either or”.

Honestly this is a problem with the world, it’s become increasingly polarised/”Black and white”. “You’re with us or against us”… What about “That could be good in some situations”, or “I see there is some overlap”, or even “both have their individual benefits”…

Some of us understand that the laws of physics and basic economics will forever limit the use of H2 to niche applications, because of the pernicious nature of the H2 molecule and because getting H2 to the fueling station and into the fool cell vehicle involves far more energy-wasting steps than using electricity to charge a BEV’s battery pack. There is very little room for improvement in using H2 as a fuel; improvements are already about maxed out. Fool cell fanboys keep harping about cheaper ways to generate hydrogen, ignoring the fact that even if generating it was free, H2 would still be much too expensive to compete with gasoline or diesel.

Contrariwise, BEV tech is far from mature, and will continue to improve significantly over the next 25+ years. Batteries can be improved, as anyone can see from the significant advances over the past 30 years; the hydrogen molecule can’t and won’t.

Some of you apparently can’t grasp what is really pretty basic science and economics.

Personally, i’m with you on the niche applications – although even that seems counter to what you’ve mentioned before and would negate the whole idea of “fool cells”. If they’re applicable to some applications, then they’re not a fools idea to develop.

As for maturity of technology. BEV technology is far more mature and has had far more money pumped into it over they years than Hydrogen as a propulsion source.

TBH the use of stupid/derogatory names, while useful to understand the position of the poster (not usually in a good way) really does you a disservice.

Andy – quote: “There have been numerous concerted efforts to make electric vehicles mainstream in all those years, yet they all failed for one reason or another………It’s kinda ironic that those same arguments are being used by BEV enthusiasts against a technology that complements their own.”

The difference now is the huge advance in battery technology over the last 15-20 years. In terms of weight, charging rate and lower cost. I’d have argued myself against BEV 20 years ago – but times have changed. Hydrogen fuel cell technology for road use has not improved remotely as much in the same time, that’s the difference, combined with it inevitably being far less efficient.

Batteries will expire before 15 years.

A tank full of hydrogen full will “expire”, or rather will be used up, in about a week, on average.

Yes, why why why are we still beating the dead horse?

I think hydrogen is only interesting for:
1) long term energy storage (seasonal storage for places with cold winters and emergency generators)
2) maybe long distance airplanes (because of battery weight)
3) things you don’t use often (for example a mobilhome that is used twice per year)

And I think batteries are better for:
1) short term energy storage (intraday storage)
2) all other transport (cars, trucks, trains, boats and short distance airplanes)

For long term storage, I would definitely consider CH4, much much easier to handle.

propane is even easier to store and almost as clean burning as CH4.

It’s even less efficient, though… Neither is likely viable for energy storage. (Worst case, if there is no other way to manage seasonal differences, just overbuilding renewable capacity would *still* be more efficient than using hydrogen for storage…)

Though I wonder whether the higher practicality of synthetic fuels over hydrogen might outweigh the even lower energy efficiency, for uses where other technologies such as batteries do not work…

Bert nails it!
H2 may eventually find a place as one of several seasonal energy storage solutions, other then that it will only compete in some edge cases and maybe in some shipping applications.
H2 from renewable is simply non-competitive due to its inherent high costs/low efficiency.

Hydrogen is way too inefficient for energy storage.

And for things you don’t use often, you can just as well stick with traditional fuels. (The limited amount needed for such niche uses can probably be obtained as bio-fuels in a sustainable manner — or worst case, sticking with fossils might be acceptable for such niches.)

Only applications where hydrogen *might* make sense is where you have to go very long distances without refuelling.

Gasoline is even better when you have to go very long distance. You can carry extra containers of gasoline which you can’t with H. As such, H makes zero sense for long distance since it’s inferior to gasoline even if one doesn’t consider the cost.

Like it or not, the EV future is batteries and hydrogen. Hydrogen will be viable because as the percentage of renewable energy generation on the grid rises so does the amount of excess renewable energy that is wasted and must be dumped, going unused. Countries with a large amount of excess renewable energy like China and Germany are turning to hydrogen production to utilize their excess renewable energy. China currently generates 150GW of excess renewable energy each year that cannot be used and is wasted. Likewise, Tesla’s Hawaiian solar farm with battery Energy Storage System (ESS) wastes/dumps 33% of the electricity it generates on a sunny day, since the PV system is sized to fully charge the ESS battery during a stretch of cloudy weather. Two bit da Vinchi’s info on the adoption of hydrogen FCVs and the hydrogen economy is outdated. China, the 800-lb gorilla in the room, is “all in” on hydrogen fuel cells, and planning for hydrogen FCVs to be 1/3 to 2/3 of its NEV fleet under its 10-year plan called “Made in China 2025.” China’s “Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Technology Roadmap”: From Business Day: “The Chinese government is backing hydrogen as one of the… Read more »

South Korea is also strongly backing hydrogen fuel cells. They plan to replace all 26,000 of their CNG buses with hydrogen fuel cell buses at a rate of 2,000 per year.

Hyundai recently announced their plans to dramatically increase their production of hydrogen fuel cell systems from 3,000 units today to a “whopping 700,000 units by 2030”, with 500,000 of those units going to power FCEVs. As part of the plan increase production, Hyundai will be soon build its second factory that will manufacture hydrogen fuel cells.

“The Hyundai Motor Group has presented the roadmap for its ‘FCEV Vision 2030’. And the roadmap is ambitious: Hyundai and Kia plan to increase their annual production capacity for fuel cell systems from what is currently 3,000 units, up to a whopping 700,000 units by 2030.”

“500,000 of these are planned for use in passenger cars and commercial vehicles, the remaining 200,000 for other applications.”

All the arguments and all the links in the world are not going to change the reality that using hydrogen as a fuel cannot ever possibly be mainstream. It will forever remain a niche application, no matter how hard the fool cell fanboys or the Big Oil shills wish for hydrogen to be magically transformed into a practical fuel.

Gotta hand it to the Big Oil propagandists: Here it is 2018, the EV revolution is finally starting to take off in a major way, and they’re still getting people to talk about fool cell cars (and trucks) as if they might magically become practical someday. Give the Devil his due! 🙄

1/3 to 2/3 of the NEV fleet? Funny, the document you linked talks about 50,000 hydrogen vehicles by 2025 — whereas the plan for EVs is 7,000,000 *per year* by 2025…

The fairy tale about using hydrogen to store excess renewable generation falls flat because of the cost of electrolysis cells. Trying to run them on excess generation only, and thus with lower load factors, makes them even more expensive — so even with effectively free electricity, they will still struggle to be competitive.

There are much more effective ways to implement storage and/or demand response; or worst case, overbuilding generation (and curtailing excess generation) is likely *still* cheaper than trying to introduce hydrogen.

Impartial Observer – quote: “It is also wasting 150GW of electricity each year that cannot be used. This electricity generated in northern China could be used to create hydrogen…”

I find that almost impossible to believe. Whilst China has been rapidly increasing it’s generation via renewables, it still currently produces huge quantities of electricity from coal – so why not use this 150GW of “wasted” electricity to offset some of the current coal generation? (And do they mean 150GW or (more likely) 150GWh? Quite a big difference…..)

**IF** true, then building transmission lines to take the power from where generated to where needed would make vastly more sense than any investment in hydrogen infrastructure.

Tunny said:
“**IF** true, then building transmission lines to take the power from where generated to where needed would make vastly more sense…”

IF?!? Google is your friend Tunny. Just Google “China wasted renewable energy” or curtailed/curtailment instead of wasted. You’ll get many hits.

The Wall Street Journal article with the wasted RE facts and figures is behind a pay wall, and I can’t access it at this moment. But this Reuters article has the 2020 RE curtailment targets for northern China. The article doesn’t mention the current RE curtailment rates, but they are significantly higher than the 2020 targets.

“It expects the wind power curtailment rate to drop to about 30 percent in the northwestern provinces of Gansu and Xinjiang and to around 20 percent in the northeastern region of Jilin, Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia in 2017.”

“Solar power waste in Gansu and Xinjiang provinces should be controlled below around 20 percent and in Shaanxi and Qinghai to below 10 percent this year, it added.”

Impartial Observer – From the reuters link you quote – “It also said that it will promote the power trade market and improve its cross-region power transmission capacity to boost renewable energy consumption and cut its coal dependence.”

The point that such as Greenpeace are making is that construction of renewable energy infrastructure and the electricity grid are not happening together – so if generation capacity gets ahead of grid capacity, there is a period when it can’t be used.

But the solution is as I said before: “…..building transmission lines to take the power from where generated to where needed would make vastly more sense…{than hydrogen}”.

And this is what is indeed what is being advocated, and what is actually happening – even if grid and generation timescales aren’t exactly matched. No one except vested interests sees hydrogen as a solution here. It’s vastly more inefficient than grid distribution in terms of energy, and the cost of such big scale electrolysis stations makes it cost disadvantaged compared to upgrading the grid.

Of course, if you are a company making such equipment, then promoting a hydrogen “solution”, you may prefer to argue differently……..

Once the percentage of renewables energy on the grid reaches high levels they can’t easily absorbed by the grid and must be curtailed. Look at Tesla’s Hawaii solar PV farm with battery backup. In Hawaii there is too much solar renewable at midday; it is actually offpeak for time-of-use rates. Tesla overbuilt their solar PV array by 33% so that the batteries would still fully charge during a spell of cloudy/rainy weather. As a result Tesla has to dump 33% of the electricity that the solar panels generate on a sunny day since neither the batteries nor the grid can absorb the excess renewable energy.

Impartial Observer – Two points from that. With reference to what you say about Hawaii, then when you state “as a result Tesla has to dump 33% of the electricity that the solar panels generate on a sunny day”, it needs strong qualification. Namely that such “dumping” is only for a period of the day, and only during sunny days. Consequently, over a period of month there is only surplus generation for a very small number of hours as a percentage of the total. Theoretically, then yes, it may be seen as desirable to use generation that would otherwise be wasted to produce a fuel such as hydrogen – but, and a very big but – think what it would involve. Even if the electricity is effectively “free”, then the big cost of making hydrogen via electrolysis is the capital cost and maintenance of the electrolysis stations. It would be utterly stupid to construct such that would then only have the electricity to operate for a very short percentage of the hours in a month. You may argue that the electrolysis stations could have their own battery storage to even out the load, such that smaller stations (at much lower… Read more »

The future is already here and has been here for me for the last 4 years since we owned our last ICE. We now have two EVs, one of them a long range EV that we take of multiple trips a year without any problem. Why would I want to give up what works great now for something that only has drawbacks comparatively that might be coming sometime in the future. It makes no sense.

I think the only reason why hydrogen is stil considered is because petro company are looking for an alternative.

I have been driving an EV for almost 6 years and I’m never going back to an ICE car

It’s also car makers hoping to preserve the status quo of keeping a competitive edge over newcomers through piled-up know-how in an extremely complex power train technology — which doesn’t work so well with EVs…

I’m just here for the fool cell comments.

Some very big and smart car companies are betting on hydrogen. Most fuel cell manufacturers are eliminating the most expensive rare metals from the electrodes/electrolyte [thereby greatly decreasing the cost], and the PEM membranes are getting ever more effective and robust [thereby increasing longevity and temperature handling]. HFCs are becoming more competitive, the vehicle range can easily be 300-400 miles and the refueling time [2-5 minutes] is just like gasoline/diesel stations… No need to change habits. Powerful arguments. However, in my mind there are three show stoppers in blocking hydrogen’s parade float… First is hydrogen. In its current version, hydrogen is derived from natural gas [not clean] and requires some cost to reform from nat gas to hydrogen. Clean sources are in development but are not so energy dense [algae, and other microbes] or cheap… Once one has the costly hydrogen, it then has to be compressed to some 6000psi [another cost and source of emissions] to gain sufficient energy density. My second objection is the obvious danger of creating, storing, transferring and carrying 6000psi hydrogen. Even if you accept the explosion potential of carrying hydrogen. the level of perfection/maintenance to avoid a micro/mini leak of 6000psi hydrogen [can cut… Read more »

How many times to we have to point out the very obvious? The problem which will forever keep fool cell cars from being practical isn’t the fuel cell stack, it’s using hydrogen as fuel.

Now, if auto makers decide to switch to using a practical fuel coupled with an onboard reformer for the vehicle, then wheeled fuel cell vehicles might be practical. They never will be so long as they are fueled by hydrogen.

There are niche applications for using H2 as rocket fuel, and in fuel cells for powering spacecraft, unmanned underwater drones, and some other niche applications. But not for wheeled vehicles.

What use would hydrogen have in stationary power generators?…

I drive a Honda Clarity FCEV and now have 20,000 miles on it. I’ve driven all over the state of California, and into Nevada. The 35 refueling stations so far in service have been very intelligently placed to enable long distance travel. I routinely go more than 300 miles between refueling stops. The infrastructure is largely in place and it is gas stations. Nearly all hydrogen dispensers are in gas stations. Those who drive ICE cars now won’t change to zero-emissions if they perceive it will inconvenience them or require a change in behavior. Switching to FCEV will require no inconvenience or change in behavior. They will have the same range as a typical ICE and will refuel at the gas station in the same time it takes to refuel the ICE. If we are to transition rapidly to zero-emissions I believe FCEVs are better positioned to do that than BEVs. Fuel cells and tanks take space, and thus are better suited to larger vehicles. That’s what Americans seem to want: pickups and SUVs. Perfect for fuel cells. In this ramp-up, chicken-egg period, hydrogen is priced high to make it viable for the companies that supply it. The drivers are… Read more »

I presume you’re getting free H with your FCEV since I don’t think you’re stupid enough to pay 5X gasoline to drive on H. But consider what will happen when your free H period runs out. Who in their right mind will pay 5X gasoline to drive inferior cars?

What will happen to FCEV after free fuel period? Unless H remain free, they will be crushed. Throwing away otherwise perfectly good car after 3 years is going to cause far more pollution than almost anything on the road, including gas guzzlers.

You might think you’re contributing to economy of scale, but you’re not. There’s no way they’re going to bring down price of H when 3 year old cars will be crushed. You’re just helping to produce more pollution.

The price of batteries keeps dropping. The price of H2 fuel is actually rising slightly over time.

There is a rapidly growing future for BEV tech, and soon we will see batteries (not EV batteries) used for large-scale grid storage.

There is no future in using hydrogen as a fuel or as an energy carrier. Even the very limited use it has now will disappear as battery tech continues to improve.

This isn’t just an opinion, it’s what the Laws of Physics clearly mandate.

Fuel cells running on hydrogen from methane reforming are *not* 50% cleaner. That’s a myth based on comparing low-powered hydrogen vehicles to “average” gas guzzlers, not to more efficient low-powered combustion (especially hybrid) cars.

Fuel cells are *not* helpful in rapidly transitioning to zero emissions, since even the shills aren’t promising meaningful deployment any time soon. In fact, even if there were no other problems with hydrogen, it’s disqualified by the fact that it will be simply *too late*. We need a transition in the next couple of years, not in two decades — and only EVs can provide that.

Installing charging infrastructure for apartment dwellers etc. is a minor problem. The fact that Norway already has >50% EV sales clearly shows that any claims about it being prohibitive are simply nonsense.

Electrolysis cells are expensive. And when trying to use only excess energy, they are even more expensive, due to low load factors. Thus it’s likely *not* true that it’s better to generate hydrogen than to throw away excess energy, if no other uses can be found for it…

Will hydrogen get cheaper? It would need to drop from current $16/kg to <$2/kg to even start to be competitive with battery electrics. If at the same time it needs to get cleaner by shifting to electrolysis the 68kWh of energy needed to create and compress 1kg of hydrogen will have to be absorbed in that price. Can that all come from free excess power? That will have to compete with increasing grid storage and even if free energy were available this type of non onsite hydrogen production will increase distribution cost.

The hydrogen atom is a tough one to harness, there is no chance it will ever become competitive with battery electrics. People will have to pay big time for a continued gas station experience.

TO transition using legacy ice gas cars, can we not retro fit an ice to burn hydrogen like we do to burn lpg?
If kits to replace the gas tank and fuel system can be developed and offered….

It has been done. Mercedes-Benz had a hydrogen burning car several years ago. Just not cost effective as it is much less efficient than fuel cells. That in turn means you need much larger tanks.

Good grief. If he actually thinks hydrogen powered vehicles could ever possibly become a practical form of widespread transportation, then he needs to re-name himself the two cent da Vinci!

It simply amazes me that people keep bringing up this suggestion over and over and over, no matter how many times it’s pointed out that pretty basic science and economics will forever keep hydrogen-powered vehicles from being anything more than a niche application where the price of fuel is unimportant, or a science experiment grown like a cancer, far beyond any real purpose or usefulness… which is what the Mirai and similar fool cell cars are.

Why not advocate for going back to steam powered cars? That would be no more impractical!

“Good grief. If he actually thinks electric powered vehicles could ever possibly become a practical form of widespread transportation, then he needs to re-name himself the two cent da Vinci!

It simply amazes me that people keep bringing up this suggestion over and over and over, no matter how many times it’s pointed out that pretty basic science and economics will forever keep electric powered vehicles from being anything more than a niche application where the price of fuel is unimportant, or a science experiment grown like a cancer, far beyond any real purpose or usefulness… which is what the Leaf/Roadster and similar electric cars are.

“Why not advocate for going back to steam powered cars? That would be no more impractical!”

Anon, 2010.

We all know batteries are used for things other than cars, and economy of scale is just matter of time due to benefit for the end user for battery applications, cars or otherwise.

What will bring economy of scale for H to bring down the price? It ain’t happening when H costs 5X existing tech while providing zero benefit for the end user.

Pretty dumb comment, there is no laws of physics I’m aware of that suggest BEVs could never become an economically viable proposition. Clearly the fuel is dirt cheap and the battery cost is getting there too.

The video has a couple of glaring mistakes. One he suggests that with further improvements hydrogen will become as cheap as electricity and there are many posts here explaining why that is not possible. The other was the statement that the Nikola One was lighter weight than the Tesla Semi. Nikola One has a 635kWhr battery as well as the fuel cell system. This is because the fuel cell can be thought of as a trickle charger and a battery needs to provide acceleration and absorb braking regeneration, but why so large? I think because the truck has to go over mountains with long uphill grades and then has large recuperation on the downhill side. Depending only on fuel cell only would make the uphill trip agonizing slow. This large battery is almost as large as the Tesla battery. Nikola will not be able to buy their battery for the low cost Tesla can make their own, and probably not as efficient so will weigh as much. The Nikola one will therefore be the same weight and cost as the Tesla Semi before adding the fuel cell and H2 tanks. It will therefore weight more and cost much more. Increased… Read more »

Nikola is a scam. None of their numbers even remotely add up. It’s bizarre it’s taken as seriously as it is.

CARB may have finally given the kiss of death to FCVs. They just approved VW’s Electrify America Cycle 2 California plan that removed all EA funding for additional hydrogen stations, instead expanding community BEV charging stations.

Plus no other state nor the DOE has elected to fund or build any fueling station outside of California in the past few years. If you own or lease an FCV, you are stuck in California and Reno for the foreseeable future.

Soon we’ll be saying “FCVs – RIP”.

The US was never a big proponent of Hydrogen. There was some interest there, but it’s mostly driven by Asia.

When they killed the electric car back in 2001 it was actually hydrogen that that was proposed as the one top wait for and showered with subsidies.

Not so fast HVACman. Rumors of HFCVs death are premature.

Two weeks ago Air Liquide announced that they will build the first world scale liquid hydrogen production unit dedicated to the hydrogen energy markets.” It will be located in the western U.S., and produce 100% renewable hydrogen.

“The plant will have a capacity of nearly 30 tons of hydrogen per day — an amount that can fuel 35,000 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) . . . providing a reliable supply solution to fuel the 40,000 FCEVs expected to be deployed in the state of California by 2022. The plant will also support other fuel cell vehicle and transportation markets in the region, such as material handling and forklifts and heavy duty trucks.”

Not a word on the distributed cost of that hydrogen. Unless that’s < $2/kg it won't be competitive with battery electrics and that's not taking into account the higher depreciation and maintenance cost of HFCVs, to compensate for that it will need to be even a lot lower than that.

Jean-Baptiste Labelle

What does 100% renewable hydrogen means? That it is produced from 100% renewable oil energy? Or that hydrogeen iss renewable renewable, which it is by definition….

It’s good to hear that hydrogen is starting to fail in one of its main missions: absorbing funds that could otherwise have been used to drive real change.

LOL China doesn’t care what “Two Bit da Vinci” thinks even one bit.

China: Great Wall Motor’s premium SUV brand WEY to launch hydrogen-powered vehicle model in 2020, foray into Germany in 2021…and formally launch fuel-cell volume production model in 2022 autonewsDOTgasgooDPTcom/new_energy/70015463DOThtml

China is going to lead the charge in adopting hydrogen fuel cell technology while North Americans scratch their heads and wonder how they lost yet another key piece of tech. It’s funny.

A sideshow in a tsunami of battery electrics that is currently shaking up the Chinese carmarket. The Chinese face the same laws of physics the rest of the world does.

If Chinese are so stupid as to throw away their money on crappier technology with H, why should the US wonder that they’re flushing money down the toilet? Actually we might wonder why the smart Chinese didn’t intervene.

In that note, here’s another stupid idea Chinese implementing: solar roads.

Granted, US implemented a small stuff first, but China is planning even bigger money waster. I mean, why lose 50% over rooftop solar when rooftops are not yet covered with solar? I really wonder why the smart Chinese don’t intervene to idiocy.

I don’t see why companies continue to waste money on fuel cells, even if you can solve all of the problems in hydrogen production, and there are a lot, you face the cost of building out a fueling infrastructure. Hydrogen will require that every single gas station be converted to hydrogen at a cost of millions of dollars per gas station. BEVs require minimal infrastructure spending, installing a Level 2 charger at your home costs less than $1K, cheap compared to the cost of a new car. Public charging is only required on highways because 98% of charging will be done at home. Also charging at home is so convenient as compared to going to a gas station.

Maybe reach people own not only oil companies but construction companies. And at the end tax payers will pay them for building hidrogen infrastructure.

This video is so full of misinformation, it’s not even funny 🙁 Most egregious is the claim that EVs only have an edge because of Tesla’s investments. There is no doubt that the advance of EVs has been accelerated by Tesla — but there is also no doubt that even without Tesla, EVs would be years ahead of hydrogen. (Any of the compliance EVs mentioned is cheaper and easily outsells hydrogen cars…) And that’s in spite of various companies and governments pouring billions into hydrogen fuel cell technology — quite possibly more money than Tesla ever invested in EVs… In fact there are some hints that hydrogen vehicles gain less from economies of scale than BEVs — meaning that even if they had a head start, BEVs would *still* win. Hydrogen cars are zero-emission, but contrary to the newspeak of the hydrogen lobby, they are *not* pure electrics, any more than series gasoline hybrids are. In both cases, the propulsion is electric, but the fuel is not. The efficiency comparison calculation is full of errors. (Though the final numbers are about right…) The EROI numbers for hydrogen make no sense. They are actually efficiency numbers (for a particular process in… Read more »
Here’s my two cents: Oil companies have spent trillions building out their networks of service stations. The business model involves taking a vehicle to a pump for refueling. Hydrogen fits that model. Why is this important? Jobs. The current refueling ecosystem provides hundreds of thousands of jobs, from fuel delivery to the mini-marts for sundries and nearby businesses. So what happens if BEVs really take off and service stations start dying? I suspect that oil companies will do a Coca-Cola shift to protect their refueling revenue source. As people started buying bottled water and “health drinks”, Coca-Cola redefined itself from being a supplier of a cola drink to being a supplier of refreshing beverages, including all kinds of cold drinks. I figure oil companies will do something similar, replacing oil with hydrogen (which, to its detriment, can be made from natural gas). Lots of lobbying money to get political backing based on protecting jobs. Meanwhile, BEVs will face challenges in disposing of all those Li-ion batteries and questions about where all that lithium comes from unless they can come up with a more palatable long-term energy storage system. So my sense is that the final decision on which way to… Read more »

H proponents propose in-situ H generator and unmanned fuel stations at ~$2M each. That’s contrary to oil companies distribution model and “jobs” argument.

What is most telling here is that those who come here and lamely try and spin H2 as the future (remember it has perpetually been touted as “the future” for decades already now) are also the virulent most anti-Tesla and sometimes anti-EV posters.

I wonder what is the real relationship is between cheerleading for H2 and their undying hatred of Tesla as the leading edge of forcing the world into sustainable transportation?

Even Fiat-Chrisler CEO Sergio Marchionne was shure that Hydrogen does not have future compared to BEV.