Jeff has sent in his thoughts concerning hydrogen cars versus electric vehicles and makes some good points.
Jeff: I’m an advocate of a clean energy near future as it sound you are. I’m interested in your thoughts on hydrogen-powered vehicles vs. simpler battery-electrics. It seems to me that battery electrics with latest generation batteries plus a quick-charge infrastructure would be more practical than overcoming the hydrogen hurdles.
It seems that a good use of hydrogen would be as the “batteries” to store excess generation of solar and wind plants to help match generation and demand. In other words, wind and solar would feed the grid but also create hydrogen through electrolysis when production outstripped demand. Then when demand outstripped production, fuel cells would be used to feed the grid. This would also be a way to in-effect transport electricity. Your thoughts?
HydroKevin: The standard that the Department of Energy (DOE) is looking for in hydrogen cars is that they have a range of 300 miles and can refuel in 5 minutes. This assures that in these two important areas that hydrogen cars can compete with gasoline-powered vehicles.
I would think the standard for electric cars must be the same, that they have a range of 300 miles and recharge in 5 minutes. The current vehicles from Tesla, Phoenix Motors, Zap and others don’t meet both of these criteria. Of course, in the future, they could and at this point will become very competitive if this happens.
In addition, if this happens, then powering the grid from renewable resources such as wind, solar, geothermal, wave and tidal energy and storing the excess energy has hydrogen will also be paramount to insure that electric cars aren’t being powered by dirty coal-fired power plants, defeating some of the reasons for going to clean burning vehicles. This is a scenario that many electric vehicle advocates have been envisioning and a reasonable direction the country could go if the technology falls into place.
But, I think another reasonable direction the country could go is to combine the best of both technologies and develop plug-in electric hybrid hydrogen cars. GM and Ford have both built prototypes of this kind of vehicle. Let’s also not forget that the future hydrogen refueling infrastructure may looking nothing like the current gasoline refueling infrastructure.
There may not be centralized production, storage and distribution of hydrogen like there is gasoline. In the future, hydrogen may be produced in a decentralized manner, on demand as needed right at the local refueling stations or at other facilities close by.
The future is wide open for these kinds of emerging technologies and that is why this field is so interesting right now to so many.