What are the economic and environmental advantages of hydrogen-powered vehicles compared to electric vehicles?

Both electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles are complementary solutions for the future of the transport sector. The main advantages of hydrogen (fuel cell electric vehicles) is consumer convenience, as their refuelling times and range are the same as those of ICEs (internal combustion engine). They are of course also zero emissions.

Hydrogen vehicles: The best of both worlds! The advantages of electric vehicles without the disadvantages

– Zero CO2 emission

– Zero particles

– Zero noise

– Less than 5mn to refill

– 500/600 km driving range

What is the industry doing to make hydrogen fuel cells safer for use in passenger vehicles?

Hydrogen is already largely spread within our society, as industries use very large quantities of hydrogen every day. It is as safe as other fuels being widely used today such as gasoline and natural gas. Hydrogen storage and fuel cell power-train technology have been extensively and rigorously tested to ensure safety. For example, hydrogen storage tanks on-board fuel cell vehicles are made of advanced lightweight materials and are extremely resilient and robust. They are less hazardous than gasoline tanks.

How does hydrogen provide solutions for excess electricity storage?

Electrolysis can convert excess electricity into hydrogen during times of oversupply. The produced hydrogen can then be used to provide back-up power during power deficits or can be used in other sectors such as transport, industry or residential. It thus valorises excess electricity.

Does hydrogen help as a long term energy storage solution?

Hydrogen can serve as a long-term carbon-free seasonal storage medium.

What is the industry doing to reduce the cost of hydrogen vehicles? Why are they so expensive and what can be done to bring the cost down?

For passenger cars, total cost of ownership (TCO) for FCEVs is currently higher than for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, while travel cost (hydrogen price per kilometre travelled) is already similar to the cost of HEVs in Japan. When FCEVs reach at-scale commercialisation, we are confident that cost parity (from a TCO perspective) can be reached by 2025 for medium to large passenger cars.

Much investment is still needed in hydrogen products – does the Council intend to continue this investment? How did you calculate the investment figures (EUR 10bn) mentioned in your report?

We recognise that more investment is needed to deploy hydrogen-related products. Investments planned over the next five years by Council members alone are already in the order of EUR 10 billion. This is based a current amount of yearly investments in the order of EUR 1.4 bn (as per the study), and the willingness to significantly accelerate these investments in the next few years with a shift towards more market deployment investments, provided that the necessary political support is achieved.

What do you consider to be the main drivers of decarbonisation?

Efforts to decarbonise the energy system need to pull on four main levers: improving energy efficiency, developing renewable energy sources, switching to low/zero carbon energy carriers, and implementing carbon capture and storage (CCS) as well as utilization (CCU).

What is the current energy mix breakdown?

Today, fossil fuels account for 82% of primary energy consumption; renewable energy sources contribute only 14%, and nuclear sources 4%.

How do you expect the energy mix to change by 2050?

By 2050, renewables are expected to increase their share of the energy mix by 3 to 5 times the current amount.

Why are current initiatives insufficient to allow for the 2 degree scenario to be reached?

The country plans laid out in COP21 to reduce CO2 emissions (the INDCs) are insufficient. They will increase the average global temperature well above the 2°C mark by 2100. Limiting global warming to 2°C will allow a cumulated emission of energy-related carbon emissions of approximately 900 Gt of CO2 by 2100. At current annual energy-related CO2 emissions of 34 Gt, that ceiling will be reached before 2050.

What is the industry doing to reduce the carbon emissions from hydrogen production?

The industry has, and continues, to invest heavily in further developing clean methods of production, which are now entering into common use. We need to move forward a decarbonisation of hydrogen production by combining processes. Hydrogen can be produced from (renewable) electricity and from carbon-abated fossil fuels, such as:

  • biogas reforming
  • the use of renewable energies during water electrolysis
  • the use of technologies for the capture and upgrading of carbon emitted during the process of producing hydrogen from natural gas

What role does platinum play and is there security of supply going forward?

In an FCEV, platinum plays a key role as a catalyst in the power source and in comparison to conventional ICE vehicles it should require 3-4 times more once commercial scale is reached. The challenge in terms of security of supply of platinum metal does not lie how much can be mined, but to match its availability in the marketplace with the timing of demand once FCEVs will reach scale. Both mining and recycling will play an important part in guaranteeing a smooth transition. This is exactly why the Hydrogen Council has membership from across the value chain.

How hydrogen empowers the energy transition

We formed the Hydrogen Council to both underpin and leverage the enabling role of hydrogen. This global initiative of 15 players from various industry and energy sectors with global reach is committed to providing guidance to accelerate and expand the deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell solutions around world.

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