Japanese Government To Offer $20,000 Subsidy On Fuel Cell Vehicle Purchases


Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan

Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan

Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan

Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided that the Japanese government needs to step in to promote the adoption of fuel cell vehicles.

To do this, Japan will provide a purchase subsidy of 2 million yen ($19,740) or more towards fuel cell vehicles.

Toyota, the first automaker expected to sell a fuel cell vehicle in Japan, says its unnamed fuel cell sedan will retail for 7 million yen (~ $70,000 USD) in Japan.  This high price tag convinced Abe that a purchase subsidy will be required in order to convince buyers to purchase one of these “environmentally friendly” vehicles.

Abe says Japan will eventually have more than 100 hydrogen refueling stations throughout select areas of the country.

What we find rather telling is that some countries are already beginning to phase out subsidies for electric vehicles, partly due to prices falling to competitive levels without the subsidy included.

On the other hand, fuel cell vehicles are relatively new to market and so expensive that subsidies will be a must if adoption is expected.

The proven technology of EVs?  Or the new-wave FCV?  We’ll go with the EV.  How ’bout you?

Source: Nikkei

Category: General, Honda, Toyota

Tags: , ,

81 responses to "Japanese Government To Offer $20,000 Subsidy On Fuel Cell Vehicle Purchases"
  1. Big Solar says:

    “very telling” is oil companies influence I presume.

    1. Jouni Valkonen says:

      I think that in Japan, Toyota has more political influence on politics than oil companies. Without knowing that they will receive lucrative subsidies, they never would have started developing this technology that cannot have any applications anywhere EVER. Even modern spaceships are now operating with solarpanels + batteries or RTG as power to weight ration is more favorable than with fuel cell.

      Fuel cell techonology belongs to Apollo and Space Shuttle era. Not in the modern world.

      1. Richard Gozinya says:

        I’d never heard of RTGs before, always cool to learn new things, thanks!

  2. GeorgeS says:

    I think we will have FCV’s whether us EV fanatics want them or not.

    The oil companies are hedging their bets. They know at some point they will have to capture the carbon. It is much easier to capture the CO2 at the point of production of the H2 than in a million tailpipes.

    1. kdawg says:

      Make the oil companies give $20,000/car then. I’m OK subsidizing technologies that makes sense.. but not those that don’t.

      1. GeorgeS says:

        Let’s face it. FC’s have some apps like big trucks. The costs will come down. And the oil companies probably WILL end up facing a lot of the expense.

        As far as who’s paying for it. We can have the same argument as EV’s. They were all given incentives also.

        1. kdawg says:

          Just use CNG for the big rigs.. forget the hydrogen. We already have a CNG superhighway.

          1. Richard Gozinya says:

            I vaguely remember hearing about a technology that would make fuels like CNG or propane a lot easier to store. The best description for it would be something like a sponge, so they could either store a lot more fuel, or store it at lower pressure safely, or whatever combination they needed. No idea if that went anywhere or not, but it sounded really cool.

          2. Mikael says:

            “Just use CNG”… well, it’s the fossil fuels we want to get rid of. CNG is not a solution, it’s just another problem.

            1. kdawg says:

              It’s better than oil, and it will buy us time till we come up w/something better for big rigs. There are a handful of BEV big rigs, but they don’t have the range to haul loads across the country. Yet. We just need time.

              (I’d even be OK w/CNG FC’s in a semi-truck. I just don’t see the point of wasting energy to make/transport hydrogen)

        2. kdawg says:

          “We can have the same argument as EV’s. They were all given incentives also.”

          That’s why I said I’m OK w/subsidizing technologies that makes sense. Hydrogen fuels cells for vehicles does not make sense.

  3. jmac says:


    What happened in Japan with the sudden rush to fuel cells, by the government and Japan’s oil companies ???


    Somebody shoved some money to another somebody under the table.

    1. Big Solar says:

      That is what I was assuming. Seems very probable. Not that other factors aren’t at play.

    2. DaveMart says:

      If you think it is sudden you have not been following the issue as I have.

      It is true however that fuel cell vehicles have now reached a critical point where the engineering is there to build them at more than prototype volume, just as happened with battery electric 5 years ago.

  4. jmac says:

    I haven’t run the numbers myself but…..

    I think it’s cheaper to make electricity from natural gas and charge batteries than to steam reform nat gas into hydrogen to be used in a 60 per cent efficiency fuel cell.

    But, the facts be damned……

    The point is, of course that the oil companies want hydrogen, even though hydrogen is significantly less efficient than grid electricity.

    1. Big Solar says:

      That is a very good point.

    2. GeorgeS says:


      as I said. The oil companies can capture the CO2 at the point of manufacture of the H2. The CO2 has some commercial value. They can use it to get more oil out of the ground which they are already doing.

      So a FCV running on H2 (w/ carbon capture) has zero CO2 emissions. While the EV running on electricity made from natural gas has some CO2 emissions.

      1. kdawg says:

        “So a FCV running on H2 (w/ carbon capture) has zero CO2 emissions.”

        Not if they’re pushing it back into the environment to extract more oil.

        1. GeorgeS says:

          This reference talks about enhanced oil recovery combined with CO2 storage

          1. kdawg says:

            But how do you guarantee that CO2 will stay down there? Seems risky to me.

      2. Mikael says:

        Carbon capture as a solution will never work. The only thing working is to not extract more fossil fuels from the ground.

        1. Priusmaniac says:

          Exactly, CO2 is way too volatile, actually the very best carbon capture is coal that you leave deep buried in the ground.
          Alternatively, when the oilies realize a durable carbon capture with the atmospheric CO2 of Venus, than and only then, will we trust them for a durable carbon capture on Earth.

      3. scott franco says:

        Even given carbon capture tech, it is more efficient to generate electricity given NG, and then capture the carbon from that central plant, than trying to capture it from the 1000’s of hydrogen fueling stations that would be needed.

        Of course my favorite idea for where to put the carbon is to pipe it into the capital building…

    3. DaveMart says:

      You haven’t run the numbers but those are the facts?

      Do you read what you write?

      I could supply the numbers, but see no reason to bother since you admit to having done zero research.

  5. DaveMart says:

    Here is what Toyota think about it:

    And they have put a great deal of time and money into backing it.

    1. Assaf says:

      Thanks for the link, it is instructive.

      Again, for me the FCEV make-or-break point is renewable H2 sources. According to this website there’s one such plant scheduled to open in Germany in 2015, and NREL in Colorado ran a 110-kW wind powered H2 plant that was enough to fuel a single FCEV.

      Translated to the real world, we are a decade away from renewable H2 production making a dent in natural-gas sources, optimistically speaking.

      Meanwhile, in half a decade we are slated to have at least 2-3 affordable 150-mile BEVs on the mass market. And the renewable portion of the electricity mix is on a sharp increase worldwide.

      I’d say keep an eye out for this option, but prioritize the renewable-source development before you subsidize FCEVs. We shouldn’t be putting huge $$ into building yet another system of fossil-fuel gas stations.

      1. DaveMart says:

        You don’t start up the production facilities when there are only a few dozen fuel cell cars on the road.

        You are asking for the chicken before the egg is hatched.

        California mandates that a third of hydrogen for transport comes from renewables.
        That is currently being met by wastewater processing and that and allied resources such as methane from landfill and sewage could on their own run perhaps ten percent of the total Californian light vehicle fleet.

        The notion that everyone else should only spend money according to your notions is quaint, and unfortunately others continue to have their own opinions, in Toyota and Japan’s case by going for hydrogen and fuel cells big time as their engineers tell them that they can make them work.

        Me, I would build loads of nuclear which fits better with BEVs than FCEVs, but I don’t evaluate everyone else’s ideas purely on how well they accord with my preferences but on their own terms for internal consistency.

        1. Assaf says:

          No, the notion that one can only express opinions online if the world follows them is quaint.

          The conversation was constructive, until the point you’ve reverted to handing out grades.

          If you cannot discuss FCEVs here in a constructive manner even with someone like me who is not FCEV-hostile, then you’ve already lost the argument.

          1. DaveMart says:

            And if you fancy that a case is disproven because the way it was presented has offended your delicacy, then you are not thinking at all.

            You said:
            ‘I’d say keep an eye out for this option, but prioritize the renewable-source development before you subsidize FCEVs. We shouldn’t be putting huge $$ into building yet another system of fossil-fuel gas stations.’

            which sounds pretty much like handing out grades to me.

            It is me that is saying that there is a variety of opinion, and that that opinion should be really respected, not just paid lip service too, whilst you are the one who apparently thinks that the only folk who should receive funds are those doing exactly as you prescribe.

            Online though is a pretty rough place, and if you are that delicate is no place for you! ;-0

            That was not even moderately heated!

    2. kdawg says:

      That is not from Toyota. That is from a pro-fuelcell website.

      I like how they compare recharge/refuel times, but forget to mention how BEV’s can refuel at home (or anywhere there’s a plug).

      Are you going to install a $5 million hydrogen station at your house?

      1. DaveMart says:

        See the credit at the top to Toyota.

        1. kdawg says:

          Not buying it. They just took bits of info from Toyota’s site, and added in a bunch of their own. There’s no link even to Toyota’s info.

          Here’s the closest thing I could find from Toyota’s legitimate website: http://www.toyota.com/fuelcell/

          1. DaveMart says:

            That site has never done its own pieces as long as I have read it, it simply reprints stuff from others.

            However, I don’t present this as something which I agree with every argument made, but since Toyota has got a lot of flack I thought is interesting to see what they have to say, assuming it is from them.

            I would have thought they would pull that tiny web site up pretty sharply if it wasn’t, and as I say so far as I am aware they don’t even do any editing, let alone writing an article.

    3. Eric says:

      The day that I can plug my Fuel Cell vehicle into my Garage and fill up on the 1 Time Prepaid (including Taxes) Energy (in my physical position, on my property) for the next 40+ Years and then Drive across the Country for 1 Time Prepaid (including Taxes) Energy like I can do since 2013 with Solar and Tesla for around +/- 10% of what it cost me in 2014 Dollars, is the Day when I will start to consider the Myth that is Fuel Cell vehicles. Fuel Cell vehicle may be great for other people (oil, some car makers, car dealers, cart parts manufactures, Government fuel tax collectors ), but I don’t know what century it will be great for me based on the old, existing 2012 Electric car technology. By the way a 3 (didn’t used to be 5 to 10) minute Hydrogen fill up is still slower then a 90 second battery swap from 2013 Technology. Maybe if time stands still for Tesla, Solar Technology and Battery Technology for the next 10 to 20 years; Fuel Cells Vehicles Might finally do SOME of things people have being doing with Solar and Tesla for the the last couple of years, MAYBE.

      1. DaveMart says:

        Have you got an allergy to paragraphs> 🙂

        And are you a nightworker, or have you got one of the very first home battery storage systems to charge your car from, or do you in fact charge it from the grid at night, not solar?
        A touch imaginative in your description of where your charging comes from, perhaps?

    4. scott franco says:

      Its too bad FCVs aren’t more applicable to airplanes. The heavy bottles used to store the fuel are a non-starter there.

      1. DaveMart says:

        They are being applied to APUs now where their reliability scores big time.
        Just like batteries although not to the same extent they don’t compete with the energy density of Jet fuel of course.

        1. scott franco says:

          Hard to beat the reliability of a slipstream APU. If there is no slipstream, it generally means the passengers are dead and don’t need it anyways !

      2. Priusmaniac says:

        On an airplane you go for liquid hydrogen because it is denser and you have professionals around. Planes are interesting because you know exactly from where they start and where they go. Hydrogen has also the advantage to be lightweight for that particular application.
        In cars you can’t work with liquid hydrogen and it doesn’t make sense anyway since you never have a very long road like driving from New York to Melbourne, so batteries are way better. For the long haul plane liquid hydrogen could at least make some sense.

  6. Assaf says:

    If there is a viable path towards mass-producing the H2 fuel in a renewable way, then I’m ok in principle with FCEVs.

    However, if no such viable path exists, then I agree with the commenters above that this smells like an Oil/Toyota/government scam. Not the first one in Japanese history; we’re still too close to the TEPCO Fukushima debacle. And $20k/vehicle is a pretty jaw-dropping sum. Just about the cost of a ChaDeMo ‘pump’.

    Let’s see whether the Japanese public gets to have a say on that.

    1. DaveMart says:

      There are shed loads of ways of producing hydrogen from renewables:

      They cost more than producing it by reforming natural gas, but then with NG prices in the States so does electricity.
      The point is that the cost is affordable.

      Where the difficulties arise for those who want only battery electric cars but still want them to run on renewables can be put in one word:

      If you want to get all your electricity from your car and everything else from solar, then on average in the US you would need something like a 4:1 overbuild.

      That is to put it mildly, expensive, and is the reason why people who actually have to try to engineer high renewables solutions use hydrogen, which can easily and efficiently be stored in massive quantities ( transported mixed in with the natural gas network, to salt caverns )

      For my preferred solution, nuclear, there is no such problem of course as they turn out power summer and winter, so the entire US light vehicle fleet could run on about 100GWe, or the same again as the current nuclear fleet.

      It is precisely because of the wish to use a lot of renewables that there is the interest in hydrogen.

      Not needed for nuclear, but that option would really upset fossil fuel interests, as it really can, instead of pretend, displace however much of the fossil fuel burn as you like, and has displaced 75% of it for decades in France, with much of the remainder coming from hydro.

      1. shawn marshall says:

        Do not know why you have the patience to contend with so many opinionated experts. With nukes and seawater we can make all the H we want and distill fresh water too. There is no energy crisis at all. The eco-nuts need to believe they are saving the world by driving EVs. It is simply an attractive option in the market and with one leap in battery tech may take off big time. Why would anyone be hostile to fuel cells even if oil companies want to push the technology? It exposes an anti-capital bias. Let all technologies compete and winners will emerge. The magic hand rules in the end.

  7. Alaa says:

    Japan needs the Arabs more than the Arabs need Japan.

  8. Josh says:

    There is one other factor at play in Japan, negative public perception of electricity after Fukushima. Japan doesn’t have the land resources for wind/solar like the US does and there is no public support for nuclear anymore. Electricity scarcity was a very real thing in the months following the disaster, that may have a lasting effect on their local policies.

  9. DaveMart says:

    Everyone who is serious about having lots and lots of renewables in the grid is into hydrogen, as it is the only practical way of enabling that.

    Hence the big push in Germany and everywhere else that is trying that.

    Me, I would just build lots and lots of nuclear with solar to cover peak demand where that occurs in the summer not in the winter.

    I recently ran the numbers elsewhere and that might amount to ~250GW nominal of solar, a heck of a lot more than there is at present, but that would achieve low carbon because it would simply top up nuclear, which could also do the job perfectly well without solar if need be.

    Those who want lots more of solar, and even more wind though have a storage problem on a gigantic scale, which only hydrogen can solve, which is why the Germans etc are going for it big time.

    So my preferred solution would not need much hydrogen and would work better with batteries, but since I don’t rule the world I consider seriously and on their own terms those who are trying to use lots of renewables and so going for hydrogen and fuel cells.

    Of course many imagine that fuel cells and hydrogen are the spawn of the devil and that they can magically have renewabless everywhere without.

    Those who have studied the matter have however universally tried to employ loads of hydrogen, as without it the numbers simply don’t stack up.

    1. kdawg says:

      Is hydrogen a better battery than a Li-ion battery? If yes, then why not store renewable energy in hydrogen at the source of the renewable energy, then convert it back to electricity at the plant level when needed, out to the grid? Why bother shipping/storing/dispensing hydrogen at all these stations all around the country?

      1. DaveMart says:

        The thing is, that asking ‘is hydrogen a better storage medium than lithium batteries’ is to fail to understand that you need a whole host of different technologies which have different characteristics, so the question should be rather ‘better and worse in what ways?’

        Capacitors, batteries (not just lithium, but lead acid, flow batteries and a host more), pumped water storage and the creation of hydrogen are all used for storage in different ways.

        The bit which is most relevant here is that batteries are expensive compared to conversion to hydrogen and back, but even more importantly can store much smaller quantities.

        So if you have a solar array you can reasonably hope to use batteries to store it to cover night time use, although that is expensive at the present.

        It is utterly impossible to use it for seasonal storage.

        You are for an energy flow of 1kw, only talking of ~10kwh or so of batteries for overnight storage.

        You are talking a couple of orders of magnitude for seasonal storage or of the close order of 1,000kwh

        The only way we know of doing that is by conversion to hydrogen.

        That is what Germany is trying to do, to use wind and solar when it is in surplus to generate hydrogen, and store that.
        They can hit well over 80% efficiency by using the otherwise wasted heat for district heating.
        Storage in salt caverns and redistribution in the NG network is surprisingly efficient, but of course you have to convert it back to electricity again.

        It is not though a fair comparison unless you are actually using scads of fossil fuels and simply playing at using renewables to compare electricity from renewables without storage to hydrogen, as the electricity just doesn’t happen when it is needed.

        So the quick answer to your question is that lithium batteries if you don’t mind paying for them are ‘best’ for a few kilowatt hours per capita, and hydrogen is ‘best’ for hundreds of kilowatt hours per capita

        1. kdawg says:

          So if power storage was decentralized and we had battery backups spread around the nation, and cheap batteries from something like the gigafactory, it would be more efficient and cost less.

        2. Priusmaniac says:

          The problem with this is that there is no way to get out of the obvious oilies play in favor of fossil hydrogen. If you find ways to store renewable hydrogen fine, but we clearly feel that renewable hydrogen is only a face for actual fossil gas and even worse like fracking gas or oil tar sands and coal. So with such suspicions present there is no way the renewable hydrogen story can be bought.
          Beside there are other large scale energy storage systems that can work like pumped water storage or simply not burning biogas in the summer but storing it for the winter only. You can also balance the renewable wind power that tends to be more even all year round.
          On a more technological point of view you can further work on the SMES (superconducting magnetic energy storage) to store larger quantities, flow cells also provide possibilities as well as the reversible methanol oxidation fuel cell CO2+2 H2O=CH3OH + 3/2 O2. Methanol can be stored in large tanks for later use.

  10. DaveMart says:

    S/be 250GW nominal for the US.

    And I meant to add that the grid can handle a lot more solar anywhere within ~20 degrees of the tropics, where vast populations live.

  11. realdb2 says:

    The major problem I have with FCEVs is that they are so much father behind EVs in terms of mass availability/viability.

    I’m tired of debating whether or not FCEVs are possible. Yes, they might be possible but even the most aggressive estimates have them being at least a decade away from relevance.

    EVs are here NOW! EVs are competing with ICEs, not FCEVs. It’s a shame to see big players like Toyota and the Japanese government throwing money at FCEVs.

    A dollar spent on FCEVs is a dollar spend on ICEs in the ICE vs EV war IMO.

    1. DaveMart says:

      If you used the same criteria of market impetus then no one would have shifted from ICE.

      An earlier start does not mean it is necessarily the best technology.

      Most of the subsidy money has gone and is still going to battery electric, and fuel cells are progressing at a far faster rate than energy density.

      None of the big boys, and the qualified engineers and chemists, are predicting how it will pan out as progress in technology is inherently unpredictable.

      So the DOE, Toyota and the other big boys are covering the waterfront, not taking a half-assed guess how the technologies will work out.

      I’m with the hundreds of industrial chemists who are involved in fuel cell and battery development, and the two fields are closely related and who are not making any predictions, not the umpteen blokes on blogs who are so certain!

      1. realdb2 says:

        So right now FCEVs are behind EVs. Right now EVs are the better technology.

        Your argument is keeping investing in FCEVs which have the potential to be the best technology down the road.

        The problem is, when do you stop investing? When do we decide that FCEVs will never be better than EVs? Never?

        1. DaveMart says:

          I’m happy for all avenues to be developed rather than try to pick winners, at least to the point where the relevant experts narrow it down, which they certainly are not at the moment – that only happens on blogs! 🙂

          It ain’t really that expensive, not in terms of energy, which is always in telephone numbers.

          The other point which tends to escape notice is that fuel cells and more advanced batteries such as lithium air are not really that distinct and different, and the same tools are being used to examine and develop both.

          In practical terms both are being applied, for instance for buses and delivery vehicles fuel cell REs seem to be a very good option at the moment.

          Of course if a breakthrough battery, perhaps lithium sulphur gets here soon, the balance will swing.

          But equally staggering progress is being made in several methods of, for instance, direct solar to hydrogen, which would of course sweep all before it, the fossil fuel industry, nuclear and all if it can be made to work economically.

          So the answer as far as I am concerned it that we don’t know, can’t possibly know, which or what is going to win out, and the serious analysts, such as the DOE and Toyota, who continue to vigorously research batteries, don’t profess to know.

          So I admit to some impatience with those who profess certainty as to what ‘will’ happen, beyond any argument or doubt!

          If they do, show me, as me and the DOE would both like to know!

      2. Djoni says:

        You’re one of the most articulated commenting here and I’ll agree with you about how this thing will comme like it or not.
        It’s still doesn’t add up in a mid or long terme basis, for me anyway.
        Efficiency is above everything the fundamental about the survival of any living thing on this planet, and that include one presumptuous mamal, the human kind.
        So, even if, hydrogene make it to propelled ourselve in whatever we’re in, it’s still won’t be as effective as using energy stored in battery.
        At the end,I just want to emphasize that there’s a bigger need for much better battery than any hydrogene related issu.
        But as you say, I don’t rule the world or the physics.
        Fuel cell mignht be great for big rig, boat or whatever is huge, safety issue aside, but a car doesn’t need that much energy to propel it.
        Battery can do the job very well and better and does it already not that bad either.

        1. kdawg says:

          Sorry, I just LOL’d at the exclamation point after “IMHO”.

          That is all.

        2. DaveMart says:

          I have always been an articulated commentator, and unkind people say of the 40 ton variety! 😉

  12. jmac says:

    Many people have run the numbers on fuel cell efficiency, versus the efficiency of battery electric cars,

    Fuel cells always loose.

    1. DaveMart says:

      Most of the numbers produced for the purpose of ‘proving’ that BEVs are way more efficient than fuel cell cars are complete flannel, achieved simply by not comparing like for like.

      So the well to wheels efficiency of hydrogen is taken, and unblushingly compared to some bod running his BEV from a solar panel, who incidentally is presumably a nightworker, when less than 1% of US electricity is actually produced that way, and as I detail above really running most of the grid on solar is not only decades away but would necessitate a truly massive overbuild.

      That is not very efficient, and using any surplus to produce hydrogen and provide fuel for fuel cell cars starts to sound good, however that may offend those with the true
      BEV religion.

      If we are talking about so far in the future as when much of the grid comes from solar, then hydrogen including possibilities like direct solar to hydrogen, is on the cards.
      Or simply using the process heat to provide hot water giving an efficiency of ~90% for hydrogen production plus heat is being done right now.

      In the real world where the books are not being cooked both BEVs and fuel cell cars use around 1MJ/mile well to wheels.

      1. Spec9 says:

        Less than 1%? So what? What matters is the future and wind & solar are currently the most installed new electricity sources in the USA. I get 130% of my net electricity from solar PV. It works. It is proven.

  13. ffbj says:

    Fuel cells have their uses and will be part of the mix. Albeit a very small part.
    In Japan where the government is backing them whole hog they will have success after a fashion, and will do so in other Island nations, like Iceland, and perhaps Hawaii, where imported fuel costs are many times the average.

    I, unlike some, claim no special knowledge or
    training and do not impute that those who do not agree with me are just plain dumb. That of course does not mean I am right, just polite.

  14. Jeff D says:

    $20,000 seems like an overly high subsidy just for an alternative fuel that may be promising. I would tend to think that there are other factors at play here such as the aforementioned electricity issues and concern for nuclear in Japan. I could also see what seems like Toyota putting all its eggs in the fuel cell basket and is a company that for Japan, falls in the too big to fail category. I don’t think that we will see subsidies for fuel cells get that high here in the states because there are too many other options and concerns to split that money among.

    1. Priusmaniac says:

      They will need to at least double that if they want to sell the thing.

  15. jmac says:

    If there ever was a religion, it’s fuel cells. It’s been going on for 30 years !!!

    Why would someone so strenuously argue for fuel cells unless they had some skin in the game ?

    For example:

    …work for a fossil fuel company

    …actually work for a fuel cell company

    …gets paid to post

    …or is a simply a misguided egotist who feels that is his sovereign right to correct and chastise everyone who disagrees with him.

    …or just a pointless troll

    1. DaveMart says:

      Why would anyone make accusations without having evidence to back them up?

      Of course since you, as you think that your own conclusions are so perfect that no one could reasonably differ from them, then your own assumption of infallibility means that differing from them can only be from interested motives.

      Of course an alternative hypothesis, which I offer very hesitantly, is that you are not God or infallible, and that others simply do not agree with your assessment.

  16. kdawg says:

    Here’s a good read.
    Why automotive fuel cells have no future:

    The cost of building a hydrogen infrastructure to replace petroleum and natural gas would be an estimated $200 trillion. Compare this to the cost of a smart electric grid, $338 billion to $476 billion, which would impart $1.4 trillion to $2 trillion in economic benefits.

    Updating our aging electrical grid is something that America will need to do anyway to keep our lights on and economy running. In the process we can help expand the existing infrastructure to accommodate electric cars which cost $0.75/gallon equivalent to fuel, as opposed to $4.5/gallon equivalent of hydrogen, which the department of energy believes may drop as low as $3.75/gallon equivalent by 2020.

    This brings me to the second fundamental problem with fuel cells — the fuel. Hydrogen is not an energy source but a store of energy, much like a battery. Today 96% of hydrogen is made from natural gas, in a process that is 72% efficient. Hydrogen can be made from water in a process called electrolysis — which is 70% efficient. However, because it is the smallest, lightest, and least dense element hydrogen must be compressed to be stored. When one considers the energy losses of creating hydrogen (say from wind or solar powered electrolysis) then compressed into a vehicle’s fuel tank, it will never be as efficient, nor as cheap, as taking that electricity and putting it straight into a battery.

    The bottom line is that EVs, such as Tesla’s Model S, will always have the upper hand over fuel cells due to higher efficiency and lower fueling costs. Throw in the lack of hydrogen infrastructure and more expensive price tag to build said infrastructure and it becomes clear that hydrogen fuel cells have a very limited future, if any.

    1. realdb2 says:


      We don’t need to make hydrogen. You are forgetting there are plentiful amounts of of unbound hydrogen on the surface of the sun and in the atmosphere of Jupiter.

      Toyota and OPEC are in the planning stages of an expedition to both destinations as we speak. We just need to divert more dollars away from EVs towards this expedition.

      Cover all the waterfronts (and planets) I say!!

    2. DaveMart says:

      There are umpteen ‘good reads’ from random blokes who might happen to agree with whatever notion you hold.

      I prefer systemic studies, which is where the points I make come from.
      For instance here is one of many:

      Or on costs:

      the supposed costs you quote are simply ludicrous.

      I prefer the DOE, which does things like quote both sides of the ledger, for instance that hydrogen stations built mean that petrol station don’t last forever, and so much of the cost is simply changing one for the other.

      I feel no need to go through in detail to refute such barmy made up figures, so will simply say that I give more credence to sources such as the DOE which puts the cost of hydrogen and electric infrastructure at similar levels, and a fraction, around 5% of the big cost, that of replacing the vehicles.

      Since the DOE is usually regarded as more credible than your source, perhaps instead you would provide a detailed refutation to show where they have gone wrong.

      The rest of your figures, for instance the 96% of hydrogen from NG are more or less random factlets, without context and hence significance.
      That percentage is just another way of saying that in the US gas is really really cheap.
      Sure, hydrogen from renewables is more expensive.
      So is electricity.
      The point is whether it is affordable.

      Similarly you have seized on the 70% efficiency of electrolysis.

      In Germany they are already doing electrolysis with heat recovery, and if you add that in you are way over 80%, around the same as charging your battery from the wall.

      The real hole in your arguments though is that you are not comparing like for like.

      Its fine if like me you want to use nuclear power for the electricity, and that is really more efficient, simply because it is available when you need it, day or night, winter or summer.

      If you want to use a lot of renewables though you can’t simply skip past the storage issue.

      Hydrogen deals with that.

      1. kdawg says:

        * Who said I wanted to use “a lot of renewables”?
        * I feel no need to go through the details of the sources when I linked the source and you can read for yourself.
        * There are umpteen good reads, and I wanted to share that one. You like to share ones that are pro-fuel cell.

        Dave, we get it. You’re placing your bet on fuel cells and storing energy in hydrogen. My bet is on battery tech. Trying to flower it up doesn’t change this. Only time will tell where we go, and if that was the correct decision. The problem is there is a lot of vested interests and because of that we do not always take the correct path. If someone came out w/a battery that cost $100, could hold 1MWh of energy, and was 99% efficient, there would still be people pushing for hydrogen.

      2. Spec9 says:

        So have you bought a fuel cell car DaveMart? Or signed up to a buyer list?

    3. DaveMart says:

      ‘Hydrogen is not an energy source but a store of energy’

      I don’t think that a meaningful distinction.
      So fossil fuels would have to be ‘not an energy source’ but a store of energy, solar energy.
      So is biomass, then.

      And in fact:
      ‘However, IFPEN says, growing evidence is pointing to the existence of substantial, natural generation of hydrogen. This could forces a change of paradigm, the R&D group says. In addition to being a carrier of energy, hydrogen could also be a source of energy, and its combustion would emit water (H2O) instead of CO2.’


      I’ve got no idea if the source is large enough or practical of exploitation enough to make much odds, but in any case the distinction seems pretty irrelevant to me.

      It seems plain though that hydrogen is likely an source as well as a store to confound pedants!

      1. Spec9 says:

        It is a meaningful distinction. It points out that the energy comes from elsewhere and thus you lose energy creating hydrogen. Now you can say the same for electricity too but it can be more efficiently and/or cleanly created. And it can be more efficiently used.

        The source-to-wheels efficiency is just not very good.

        1. DaveMart says:

          Whether or how much hydrogen is lossy when it is made has nothing whatsoever to do with whether it should be called a fuel or not.

          You simply highlight that this pretty batty distinction is being made for polemical purposes in order to attach a negative emotional load.

          Electricity is just as lossy if it comes from the US grid, in fact much more so, especially if you capture the process heat from making the hydrogen as the Germans are doing, which enables way over 80% efficiency.

          The electricity from your wall socket on average in the US is around 33% efficient after T & D losses, and then suffers around another 20% loss by the time it makes it through your battery to the wheels.

          You are comparing it to some hypothetical future where the energy comes from solar, and is magically available when needed without suffering storage losses, for instance by conversion to hydrogen and back.

          Unless you live in the tropics or don’t want to drive in the winter this is nonsense.

          Of course, actually the solar cells are only around 15% efficient, so presumably their use should be castigated as they are not an energy source but a store.

          The distinction is flannel for the purpose of seeking to discredit hydrogen use, not in any way a serious distinction.

          The law of conservation of energy means that just about anything is a store not a source if you want to go far enough back.

  17. krona2k says:

    Only 14 posts from DaveMart in this thread? I’m disappointed!

    1. DaveMart says:

      By far the most interesting and informed post you have ever made.
      At least on this occasion you have got the number about right.
      Well done!
      Before we know it you will be posting something which is actually germane.

  18. jmac says:

    It’s 3:45 here in Texas (Central time zone)

    It’s 4:45 Eastern time and it’s 1:45 Pacific Time.

    Shouldn’t you be at work somewhere Dave Mart ?

    1. DaveMart says:

      Like different technologies, different countries are way outside your comprehension.

      1. jmac says:

        And Dave Mart’s present employer is…… ??????

        1. DaveMart says:

          Unable clearly to present any relevant arguments, jamac.
          None of your business.
          Unlike yourself I have manners, and would of course were there financial interest or relevant employment clearly state that as is customary.

          So if you have nothing germane to say and simply wish to reiterate that your own views are not rationally contestable, get a life.

  19. Big Solar says:

    Are the germans germane?

  20. Phr3d says:

    The good news is that Petroleum is on the down-swing, however we reach that end.

    I know that the hydrogen-station-supplied-by-transporting-an-electrically-created-fuelstuff didn’t appeal to My logic much either, and I Hate filling station, but I have learned quite a bit from all of the links here.

    I too dream of meltdown-impossible nukes, and it looks like we’re There, but it Looked like we were there decades ago, and look what happened. What France did differently, I’ve not been able to learn, but clearly it Is possible to nuclear-power a country and Not have scary results.

    So I feel like I get it -better- now, anyway — nukes (if possible) and scads of solar/wind with all of the Brilliant technologies that the electric industry has invented to store for and handle peaks, and finally a relatively affordable and pollution lowered fuel for peaks beyond reasonable design parameters/expectations.
    good stuff!