Rather than relying on any single technology in isolation, a study by the Hydrogen Council suggests that to achieve decarbonisation of the automotive industry, the combined use of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) is required.
In the same way that petrol and diesel have been the standard fuel sources for cars up until now, with both offering different benefits, BEVs and FCEVs will likewise offer different fuel solutions depending upon the circumstances.
FCEVs should be more suitable for areas where there is likely to be ongoing limited grid capacity, restricted renewables, and the need for vehicles that provide fast refuelling with longer ranges – which demands high energy and power. BEVs are a more immediate and easily established solution to rapid automotive decarbonisation. In combination, the two solutions should reduce the demand on resources, the environmental impacts of the carbon lifecycle, and a more efficient vehicle fuelling system.
However, implementing cost-effective solutions through a combination of both technologies must consider the energy infrastructure of the areas in which they would be deployed. The grid investment required for a suitably powerful charging network to service large urban conurbations and cities – areas of high demand – besides relatively inaccessible areas – would be considerable.
As hydrogen can be produced in quantity from renewable electricity, this would prevent the grid from overloading as well as reducing dips in energy production at times of peak demand. In addition, if a significant enough proportion of vehicles were fuelled by FCEVs then the savings would offset the cost of a hydrogen infrastructure.
The use of both technologies then, would be more efficient that the use of one alone.
Executive Director of the Hydrogen Council, Daryl Wilson said,
“It’s become abundantly clear that FCEVs and BEVs are the two key zero emission mobility solutions and will need to be deployed in tandem for the most optimal environmental and economic results. The specific mix of each solution will be determined by each region’s energy production capability and vehicle segment served, but the world needs both and it needs them fast.”
Hydrogen may have a key role to play in reaching global decarbonisation goals and providing low-carbon energy solutions to decarbonise and diversify renewable energy sources for long distance, clean transportation solutions – particularly to areas that need renewable energy to be brought in.