Real car companies like Honda, Toyota and GM produce a few thousand hydrogen test vehicles (so called FCV’s or Fuel Cell Vehicles) and make slick commercials with pure water dripping out of tail pipes in front of endless green fields:
The promise of hydrogen is indeed intoxicating. It is very easy to overlook its massive problems and expect science will solve them… next year.
Unfortunately, the reality is much harsher and con’s far far outweigh the pros:
- hydrogen provides a far denser energy than batteries, about 200 times more dense, which means you don’t need much for long distance travel
- hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe
- refueling a hydrogen car takes about 4 minutes
- hydrogen cars only direct outputs are electricity and water clean enough to drink
- the cost of hydrogen is about 800% more expensive than what is used in traditional electric vehicles
- about 75% of the energy produced by hydrogen goes to waste in one form or another
- it takes a VAST amount of energy to separate hydrogen from other elements making it’s net environmental cost quite high
- it is very expensive to make hydrogen
- hydrogen vehicles are very complex especially compared to the elegance and simplicity of battery powered vehicles
- there is little to no hydrogen infrastructure anywhere on the globe with exception of a few test markets like Iceland and parts of California
- “first responders” like fireman, police and EMT’s will not extract a driver from a severely damaged hydrogen vehicle for fear of setting of an explosion
- battery electric vehicles have made enormous efficiency improvements in recent years while hydrogen has seen few breakthroughs in the technology
What this video that explains the technical reasons Hydrogen just isn’t going to work anytime soon:
We think hydrogen powered vehicles will not make either economic or environmental sense for decades. But don’t take our word for it. Purveyor of all things future, Elon Musk, calls hydrogen powered vehicles are “incredibly dumb”. … and don’t take Elon’s word for it. Toyota admits “Elon Musk is right – it’s better to charge the electric car directly by plugging in“.
Many seemingly new technologies are actually just derivatives of old technologies. Breakthroughs do happen and it seems they happen more and more these days so we should not abandon hydrogen. However, to be competitive, hydrogen be needs many breakthroughs and needs them at a faster rate than batteries/storage; that just hasn’t been happening in recent years.