Thursday, October 8, 2015

Comparing Hydrogen fuel cells and lithium batteries

While hydrogen is abundant, it still has to be obtained from somewhere, produced. Theoretically, it could be obtained by splitting water via electricity generated from solar or wind power. However, commercially, that’s not how we get it. Financially, it makes much more sense to get hydrogen via natural gas reformation. In other words: “let’s stick with fossil fuels.”

The overall effect is that hydrogen fuel cell cars aren’t even as efficient or environmentally friendly as conventional hybrids like the Toyota Prius. Again, see how they compare in this chart (also below). Also note that battery-electric vehicles, even plug-in hybrids, are much “greener” even on today’s grid, and the electricity grid is getting greener and greener every day. “The hydrogen car is more like one third as efficient as the EV,” Dr Joe Romm (who used to oversee and promote hydrogen funding in the US Department of Energy) writes. “Put in more basic terms, the plug-in or EV ‘should be able to travel three to four times farther on a kilowatt-hour of renewable electricity than a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle could’!”
If you care about efficiency, clean air & water, or a livable climate, that chart shows pretty clearly what type of car you should buy or lease. And that’s the key reason why I’m a huge fan of battery-electric cars and started this website.

But if you want another source, here’s a chart from the Advanced Power and Energy Program at UC Irvine:

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