CNN Says Fuel Cells Will Compete with Battery-Powered Cars

By · November 26, 2012

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This Hyundai Tucson is powered by a hydrogen fuel-cell.

CNN is reporting today that hydrogen fuel cells “could overtake today’s battery-powered vehicles.” The news agency’s primary evidence is the expected release “by the end of this year” of the fuel-cell version of Hyundai’s ix35 sport utility vehicle—known in the US as the Tucson. According to CNN, Hyundai will lease a few Tucson fuel cell vehicles starting in just a few weeks, and plans to make up to 1,000 fuel cell cars by 2015. Hyundai’s long-term target will be 10,000 units a year.

Hyundai has mostly remained on the sidelines when it comes to plug-in electric cars. The company has presented a number of concept vehicles, and early in 2012 announced that it would invest $4.4 billion in EV technology. But the company has not made a definitive announcement about making and selling a plug-in car.

In its report, CNN outlined the advantages that fuel cell vehicles have over EVs: longer range, quicker refueling times, and application of the technology on larger vehicles.

"There might be some overlapping in-between, but basically, our strategy is that we are developing fuel cells for heavier and mid-size cars and (battery-powered) electric vehicles for smaller ones," said Byung Ki Ahn, the general manager of fuel-cell research at Hyundai. He said that fuel cell cars are not directly competing with EVs.

Lopsided Competition

CNN also reported that adoption of fuel-cell cars could be stymied by the high cost of hydrogen fueling stations, which it said costs $1 million or more each to build, according to industry analysts. Production costs for battery-powered electric cars, despite relatively expensive battery packs, have an advantage—because current estimates for producing fuel cars are at least $100,000. Hyundai hopes to bring down those costs in the next three to five years, so that it can eventually offer the fuel cell Tucson at about $50,000.

As Hyundai puts its first fuel cars on the road—and others including Toyota and Honda will follow suit in the next few years—the media is likely to continue to portray fuel cell cars as a viable market alternative to battery-powered electric vehicles. But five years from now, only the first few thousand fuel cell cars will reach US roads, and perhaps the first few hundred hydrogen stations will be put into service. By that time, there will be approximately 1 million battery-powered EVs on American roads, with abundantly available public charging in most parts of the country.

CNN gives Kevin See, a senior analyst of electric vehicles at Lux Research in Boston, the final word in its article. He says that petro-powered cars—rather than either battery or fuel cell vehicles—have the biggest market advantage. “They don't force you to change your habits in terms of fueling, he said, “You can still fill up at a gas station.” The article fails to explain that drivers of battery electric vehicles don’t need to go to a gas station to refuel, and can conveniently charge up at home overnight when vehicles are seldom used.

Comments

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 2 years ago

The biggest selling point of Fuel Cell is its efficiency. It should be in the 50-60% range. That doubles the existing ICE's efficiency. Combined with electric motor and small battery pack, it will include regen as well. Ultimately, the $/mile will determine the market.

· Veratonique (not verified) · 2 years ago

Whatever the future will be, this kind of message is here to say: "Hyundai leads the technology and the future".

· · 2 years ago

CNN has failed to tell us where affordable - and environmentally-responsible manufactured - hydrogen is going to be obtained and at what cost are we going to see the deployment of the comprehensive infrastructure of hydrogen refueling stations.

· · 2 years ago

Fluff piece.

I do remember reading about some university research into producing hydrogen during desalination / waste water treatment processes. Until something like that becomes commercially viable, fuel cells are unlikely.

A fuel cell car is basically an electric car that uses hydrogen instead of batteries though.

I have wondered if fuel cells or simply hydrogen burning could eventually find its way onto airplanes since today's batteries tend to be heavy.

· Ernie (not verified) · 2 years ago

@Benjamin:

That's because Hydrogen is made by magic, and when you put it through a fuel cell all that comes out is water!

Hydrogen from Natural Gas is no more efficient and far more expensive than just burning Natural Gas in your engine (one built for the task, of course). And of course, it produces exactly the same pollution. But *you* can feel the warm fuzzies coursing through your veins because *you* are not responsible for that pollution! ;)

· · 2 years ago

Precisely, Ernie. I also tend to think the whole hydrogen economy thing is wishful thinking. This link is one that has been posted on this blog often and is worth doing so again . . .

http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-hydrogen-hoax

Granted, there has been some progress made since this was written. But this is fundamentally still the status quo.

If so many of these problems can be overcome someday (I'm not holding my breath,) we might see a sort of hybrid on par with today's Chevy Volt: one that is primarily a battery car but with a backup fuel cell. We'll see . . .

· · 2 years ago

My favorite hydrogen car quip:

"I'd love to have an affordable, efficient hydrogen car. I'd park it next to my unicorn."

Neil

· · 2 years ago

I want to see the hydrogen technology efficiently deplyoed, EVs and hybrdis did it.
One more thing i dont know if you guys heard, when i heard it i didn't believe it too.
Couple of weeks ago there was a "brand new" discovery, but later I found out there were attempts at this.
This american guy Alberto Solaroli, along with slovak engineers supposedly came up with an ICE engine with this stats :
5 Cylinder VW Audi 814HP, 5,3L /100km
There are some fancy thermo-dynamics employed, there are minimal to none emissions, the engine is cold on touch and the more pressure the engine is under the more efficient it gets.
I also heard it could run on gasoline/diesel/gas/luquid gas and existing engines can be modified to this performance and efficiency (which is around 60% with modified engines and 70% with brand new engines)
This would make a perfect range extender engine (minimal size, no cooler needed, no catalytic converter, plus the efficiency increase when under pressure (perfect for constat rpm in my opinion).
The engine was tested for 4 days straight with no problems, even our government was present at the test.
I do whish for this to come true.

http://veda-a-technika.noviny.sk/uploads/tx_media_files/thumbs/800x448/P...

http://img.ihned.cz/attachment.php/430/43738430/Phzajgb0QfGJuo8yiOnIB4tM...

· Bret (not verified) · 2 years ago

I saw some hydrogen commercials on TV from the big oil companies. They were talking about the future of energy. They would love to have a future product to sell commuters each week, especially if an expensive infrastructure creates a potential monopoly. EVs and CNG represent a real problem for oil companies, since revenue would gradually shift to utlilty companies. That cuts them out of the picture.

· Spec (not verified) · 2 years ago

Well . . . yeah . . . they'll compete . . . and then lose. Actually, no . . . it is not pure battery-powered EVs that will kill fuel cell cars, it is PHEVs that will kill fuel cell cars.

· Spec (not verified) · 2 years ago

Veratonique said: Whatever the future will be, this kind of message is here to say: "Hyundai leads the technology and the future"

Shouldn't it be: "Hyundai lies about the technology and the future" ;-)

· Bret (not verified) · 2 years ago

@Spec,

I think PHEVs/EREVs have a big practical advantage right now. But, as the cost and range of pure EVs improve (and it will dramatically in the next few years), they will be more than competitive. Different types of drivers will choose different technologies and both should sell well.

· Montreal EV fan (not verified) · 2 years ago

As batteries improve through increased capacity and decreased charge time, fuel cells will become less attractive due to their extra complexity and expensive infrastructure. I think the result of any competition between batteries and fuel cells will be a win for batteries, due to the simplicity of a single-system powertrain, and a less expensive associated infrastructure.

· Lad (not verified) · 2 years ago

The H2 Cell tech was created as a red herring by Big Oil and their bought politicians, to divert battery research funds and EV implementation subsides. Fuel cells are nothing more than an impractical myth to slow down EV adoption and technology advances so the movement doesn't disrupt current oil and ICE profits suddenly.

I believe the auto companies will finally respond to the security needs of the American people by producing Battery Electric Cars; but, not without dragging out that response as long as possible. You will know when EV have been accepted by Big Oil when they try to take over the battery business.

· Tim (not verified) · 2 years ago

Is the current year 2012? Because it sure feels like 2000-2001, when the "promise of hydrogen" killed BEV's the first time around. Fuel (Fool) cells are no more efficient than ICE's. Hydrogen will leak out of just about any kind of container, not to mention that you still have to drive to a station to fill up with hydrogen, controlled by a certain few companies. Not to mention the insane increase in water and electricity usage to create hydrogen, just to change hydrogen back to water and electricity. Since the whole process is so inefficient, electricity demand for one vehicle is large enough to charge 4-5 BEV's. Also, the entire hydrogen infrastructure needs to be built up to near the point of current gas stations. Hydrogen is the backup plan the oil companies have for gasoline. They are trying to kill EV's because they can't make a profit from electricity that you generate on your roof to power your car. The only hydrogen system that's been proven to work in cars is the NiMH battery. Guess what happened to EV grade NiMH batteries? Bought by Texaco-Chevron, sold to them by GM to protect their investment in internal combustion by creating the excuse that "batteries are too expensive". Don't let hydrogen kill EV's again. We can't afford it.

I know people are probably sick of hearing it, but please watch "Who Killed the Electric Car". It will open your eyes to what can happen in the next few years. So far, it has been a repeat of what happened in the late 90's.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

"Won't have to change fueling habits"

The whole argument here Boils down to this.

Imagine if you had to take your cellphone out to the "cellphone recharging" station every time you wanted to recharge it. Would that be more popular than what we currently have (I charge it overnight while I am sleeping, and charge it at my desk when at work).

The reality is that EV refueling methods are extremely superior compared to our current gas station method. The only thing lacking is consumer education, and long range charging infrastructure, both of which are changing rapidly.

The choice of hydrogen is just silly. Electricity is the most efficient and flexible way of transmitting energy that we know of, and it has an unparalleled infrastructure worldwide. Eventually, electricity WILL win out. The only question is whether we will delay that inevitability because incumbents don't want to lose their revenue sources.

· · 2 years ago

I'm not the kind of person to believe in conspiracy theories but I suspect the natural gas industry may be giving financial support to hydrogen fool cell research.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 2 years ago

"I know people are probably sick of hearing it, but please watch "Who Killed the Electric Car". It will open your eyes to what can happen in the next few years. So far, it has been a repeat of what happened in the late 90's."

Do you who killed EV? Stupid consumer and cheap gas did...

Get over it. EV-1 was a piece of junk. A two seater that doesn't go far. Gas was $1.60. Original EV-1 was powered by Lead Acid battery. Even the NIMH battery comes nowhere close to today's Li-ion in terms of energy density and energy per volume. You spend 40% of the battery energy to carry its own weight in the EV-1 (pb) and about 28% of the battery energy to carry NiMH batteries. That is a terrible weight to power ratio...

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 2 years ago

The SINGLE LARGEST threat today to all BEV, EREV and PHEVs are high MPG cheap transportation such as Prius.

That is right! Prius is the single largest road block to wide adoption of EVs. Why? B/c it is so efficient and sold by Toyota with rock solid reputation in quality. People flock to it b/c it is so cheap in terms of $/mile.

People buy things mostly b/c of cost. That is why Walmart is so freaking popular with cheap junks. Until BEV/EREV/PHEV blow Prius away with both efficiency AND cost, they will remain a small segment. And Toyota has already "committed" to HYBRIDS by installing that old synergy in all its lineup.

That is the biggest threat. Chevron doesn't need to do anything at all. The last time gas price shot up in California, Plugin cars sales went up a bit, but Prius became the best selling brand in California. People flocked to the Prius dealers like sheeps! They only understand MPG, NOT miles/KWh!

· · 2 years ago

@Modern Marvel Fan,
The Prius didn't start off as fast as the Tesla Model S, Volt, or Leaf are.
Many people only understand the old things but half of the people have above-average intelligence.

· David Martin (not verified) · 2 years ago

The prejudices of the author are sticking out in the slant.
Hyundai's goal is not, AFAIK, a $50k fuel cell car in '3-5 years' but clearly for 2015 according to all the press releases I have seen.
If you have information to the contrary, please source it.
They are not alone, as Toyota have a similar price target and time frame, and Daimler is also heavily involved.

The cost of the initial roll out of hydrogen filling stations to obtain critical mass is also coming down.
Here is NEL's containerised hydrogen producing system, which can be moved on to elsewhere in the system as a bigger one is needed at the initial location:
http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/news-events/news-archive/2012/november/nel-...

The notion espoused by some commentators on this thread that using hydrogen in fuel cells is many times less efficient than batteries, with one even saying that it is no more efficient than natural gas cars is also false.
Not with present methods of producing hydrogen and running the grid it is not.
A kilogram of hydrogen, energetically equivalent to a US gallon of gasoline, takes around 50-55kwh or so worth of natural gas to produce.
The Toyota FCEV small SUV then uses it in real world conditions at the rate of 68mpge, so overall you come out to something like 1.2kwh/mile.
The far smaller range limited Leaf gets around 4 miles per kwh, but the US grid is around 33% efficient so you come out to using around 1.3kwh worth of natural gas per mile.

Notions that people who install solar arrays are driving on sunshine are nonsense, unless they are doing all their driving at night.

And of course efficiency comparisons are apples to oranges, as there is no way that even the mighty Tesla with its equally mighty battery pack can travel the 431 miles in normal driving that the Toyota gets before a 5 minute refill.

It is not either/or between batteries and fuel cells.
They are complementary technologies, with different applications, as Hyundai says.

· · 2 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver: "half of the people have above-average intelligence."

Technically, half of the people are above median intelligence. I'm pretty sure that intelligence is not symmetrically distributed, and far fewer than half of all people are above average.

@Modern Marvel Fan,
It's not all bad news - EVs still gain a little from hybrids' successes. As Toyota (and Ford, and GM, and Honda...) puts large batteries into more and more cars, they are pressuring their supplies to produce better and cheaper batteries. These same gains can benefit EVs as well. It will just take longer.

· · 2 years ago

I'm surprise that gorr hasn't logged on here yet, ecstatic with glee.

· · 2 years ago

"Notions that people who install solar arrays are driving on sunshine are nonsense, unless they are doing all their driving at night."

That is not true. Solar can feed the grid, which reduces fossil fuels burned during the day. In fact, in warm climates, solar generates the most electricity exactly when demand is highest due to air conditioning use.

Any electricity produced with renewable resources reduces the need to generate electricity with fossil fuels.

One problem is the Northwest USA which often generates more electricity than it can use, especially during storm events. There is massive amounts of hydro power and a large amount of wind power. When those are running high, we can't consume enough, and can't ship enough out - so we have to shut down turbines and hydro...

The *national* grid needs to be improved, and our fossil fuel burning plants need to have much more dynamic flexibility built in so that we can pump electricity around better and we have more capability to dynamically scale fossil fuel use as needed. Some coal or natural gas generating plants cant easily be shut down and restarted quickly so we can't scale their use down nicely when we get surplus on renewables.

Also - don't forget that an electric car can run off electricity which is generated from *ANY* source. Any source at any time. Whereas gasoline cars can only run on gasoline, and hydrogen fuel cells can only run on hydrogen. Sure gasoline and hydrogen can be produced from slightly different sources from time to time - but by large they are generally made from only a couple raw materials.

If we improve the efficiency of the electrical grid, instantly every single electric car becomes more efficient. If we make the electricity generation cleaner, instantly every single electric car becomes cleaner. It is easy to improve one power plant at a time. It is hard to replace 100 million vehicles on the roads.

· Spec (not verified) · 2 years ago

Well . . . all this arguing is kinda pointless. Fuel Cell car markers . . . bring it on. Put them on the market. Until, I'd really appreciate it if you would shut up about boastful unproven claims because you are only harming the existing alt-fuel vehicle market. And as you well know, EVs and fuel cell cars share lots of parts so it is in your own interest to help the EV market along since that will lower the cost of your own parts. So if you are bashing EVs, you are bashing fuel cell cars.

· · 2 years ago

@Spec
". . . boastful unproven claims because you are only harming the existing alt-fuel vehicle market"

You're talking as if you don't think that is the objective of the claims.
I agree, bring them all on and let the market decide. Unfortunately, this assumes there is an unlimited amount of capital or pork available to develop all technologies.
Since there is only a finite amount of money available and those who control it do not understand technology, there is a serious problem getting it spent on feasible alt-fuel vehicle technologies.
Too much goes into dead-end holes such as air-cars, FCEVs, ethanol-ICE, etc.

· Jesse Gurr (not verified) · 2 years ago

Ben, I was thinking the exact same thing.

David,
After some quick calcs here is what I came up with:
1 Kg H2 = 1 gal gas = 33.7 kWh
I can't find any info on the Toyota FCV with a quick search so I will use the Honda FCX Clarity instead. Its rated at 60 mi/Kg H2. Which isn't too bad until you realize that electric cars are rated 100 miles for the same amount of energy.
Add to that, 1 Kg H2 might be equal to 33.7 kWh, but it takes more energy than that to make it. 58.26 kWh to be exact. 60 mi/58.26 kWh = 1.02 mi/kWh

It takes about 4.9 kWh / Nm3 H2 produced.
http://www.nel-hydrogen.com/docs/P60_product_leaflet.pdf

There is about 11.891 Nm3/Kg H2
http://hiq.linde-gas.com/international/web/lg/spg/like35lgspg.nsf/docbya...

So 4.9 * 11.891 = 58.26 kWh

It also takes almost 11 liters of water to make that. It uses no NatGas to make hydrogen. So we trade one scarce resource for another, arguably, scarcer resource. Thanks!

· Addicted (not verified) · 2 years ago

@David - Anyone claiming that electric cars are running purely off solar, or clean energy is a liar. That, however, does not mean, that in certain areas of the country it is indeed possible (actually easy) to run your car (and house) purely of solar. E.g.

http://electric-bmw.blogspot.com/

The biggest argument is that electric cars will only get cleaner, as the grid gets cleaner (which is almost certain to happen). It transfers the effort of cleaning our energy source from millions of distributed vehicles, to many orders of magnitude less power plants, on the back of an existing strong infrastructure, which will always be with us.

And this is even before the benefits EVs provide in making the grid even more effective and resilient.

· · 2 years ago

I like the "Green Eye Shade" posts here.. Currently, I don't believe Hydrogen can compete with Gasoline let alone EV's.

They've been pushing Hydrogen for so many years now, and giving out so many of my tax dollars, that I wonder if the equivalent amount of money put into battery research would have gleened a better battery by now.

This Hydrogen propoganda reminds me of the Atomic Energy Commision's Chairman saying Nuclear Power is going to be so great and so cheap, Utilities won't even bother Metering Usage. Contrast that with these two facts:

1). It is the most expensive large scale source of power, once ALL COSTS have been factored in.

2). As Fairewinds chief engineer Arnie Gundersen states, "Its the only form of Generation that can Destroy a Country".

Gorr would be upset with me since if they don't build many GEN 3+ Nuclear Plants, he's going to be missing his only real source of Low-Cost Hydrogen.

· David Martin (not verified) · 2 years ago

'That is not true. Solar can feed the grid, which reduces fossil fuels burned during the day.'

I am well aware of it.
That still does not mean that they are 'driving on sunshine'.
It means that they are driving off the grid, like everyone else, and offsetting it with power which may or may not be advantageous to the grid depending on the climate where they live.

The habitual miss-statement is quite deliberate, and amounts to systemic misrepresentation.
The reason for it is that it neatly glosses over one of the chief problems with solar, that it doesn't necessarily shine when you need the power, and storing it is both difficult and expensive.

The falsehoods they are propagating is particularly outrageous in areas where they winters are cold and long, and their solar array generates little power when it is most needed, whilst benefiting from equally outrageous feed in tariffs in the summer, at the expense of mainly poorer people.

· David Martin (not verified) · 2 years ago

@Jesse:
What you calculated is what I said.
FYI here are the figures for the Toyota - the Honda uses an older generation of fuel cell which they are going to replace before going to full production in 2015:
http://www.nrel.gov/hydrogen/pdfs/toyota_fchv-adv_range_verification.pdf

Note that this is 68mpge in real world driving including highway.

If you run the figures for US grid efficiency also and transmission losses of around 7% (!) there, you will see that my figures for the total energy consumed to power a BEV are also accurate, and about the same or a touch better than for fuel cell vehicles after reforming and compression of NG.

Grid efficiency in the US has been about the same for decades, and is not getting any better as it takes a hit from renewables, which need fancy and inefficient back up.

What the people who claim vastly better efficiency for batteries are doing is taking the most favourable possible way of generating the electricity, solar or whatever (they don't like talking about cost) and comparing that to hydrogen production by electrolysis, which since you are changing the energy state both ways obviously looses efficiency.

They ignore that many renewables people, Germany for instance, are mad keen on hydrogen as it offers perhaps the possibility to store excess wind power and so on, and whatever the disadvantages of that (cost) it sure would be energy efficient as it uses otherwise lost power.

They are also ignoring other possible pathways, such as hydrogen direct from sunlight in artificial leaves, or perhaps more realistically, improved catalysts and high temperature electrolysis.

The efficiency argument is anyway moot, since there is no reason not to use batteries where they do the job, and equally little reason not to use fuel cells where they are more effective and still come out with a very handy energy saving relative to using a combustion engine and fossil fuels, which is the really relevant metric.
There are plenty of times we trade energy efficiency for convenience, or people would not drive large comfortable cars, but go most places on a bike.

· · 2 years ago

"It means that they are driving off the grid, like everyone else, and offsetting it with power which may or may not be advantageous to the grid depending on the climate where they live."

Oh for heck sake. Its the same thing. The net energy consumption is the same.

"The falsehoods they are propagating is particularly outrageous in areas where they winters are cold and long, and their solar array generates little power when it is most needed, whilst benefiting from equally outrageous feed in tariffs in the summer, at the expense of mainly poorer people."

BS

1. "poor" people can afford solar. They would just need to choose to install solar instead of a few packs of cigarettes, a couple movie theater movies, or any other thing people waste money on. Ultimately, however, it will usually save money. I grew up significantly below the poverty line, and we had solar - because it actually saved us money. Now that we have the "no upfront costs lease" programs it is even easier.

2. Even here in "dark cold long night" Oregon, solar makes financial sense. I have a good friend who is a part time college professor (again, not a lot of money) who has equipped her house with enough solar that her meter runs backwards most of the day. She also charges a Leaf. For most of the year she has a zero electric bill, even charging her electric car. In the darkest gloomiest most overcast day, her solar panels still generate electricity. By contrast, on our longest day of the year we have something like 18 hours of sunlight, and a well placed solar array generates power that entire time.

There is zero reason that we shouldn't be installing solar all over the place. Solar tends to generate the most electricity precisely at the time when electricity demands are the highest.

"The habitual miss-statement is quite deliberate, and amounts to systemic misrepresentation."

This is absurd. I have worked with off-grid people who run their entire homes with solar and batteries. I know people with regular houses who generate tons of electricity using solar. I have met people who set up solar charging in British Columbia which have paid off - and thats is far from a sunny climate as we can get... But even if you did want to somehow exclude anyone north of the 45th parallel you would still have like 90% of the American population who could use solar quite effectively.

· · 2 years ago

Benjamin Nead: that New Atlantis article you reference explains very well the energy costs for using hydrogen as an energy "carrier" (a carrier, since hydrogen does not exist on earth to be mined - it must be produced from something else). I knew the basic chemistry before, but reading this article underscores how absolutely stupid stupid stupid it would be to have a "hydrogen economy" as has been touted in the past and occasionally comes up like in these fuel cell articles above. It is apparent to me that few, including reporters at CNN and engineers at Hyundai, understand this basic physical problem.

But, I'm excited, very excited, about EVs and (less so about) PHEVs to start us on a more efficient path for transportation. They are here to stay, it's just a matter of time before the public sees through the BS and the companies have to finally admit they were wrong and commit to building EVs.

· · 2 years ago

I'm with you, Dan. I also have to say that valraider's observations ring true for me. A lot of us were sold on the Hydrogen Economy back in the early 2000s, only to become disillusioned later. While I'd really like to see it work as well as it's supposed to, I'm going to guess it will be a rough road for many more years to come.

And, yes, there' much to be optimistic about on the EV front. Just in the past 24 hours we've seen photos of the presumed production version of the Chevy Spark EV, which seems to have many of the assets of what I've wanted to see in an EV with fewer deficits than most of what's currently out there now.

Also . . . I just got confirmation today that the first Level 3 EVSE in southern Arizona, at Picacho Peak, will be unveiled on Saturday, December 8. More on that one soon.

· · 2 years ago

Ok, if we're confessing to our misguided Hydrogen experiments back in the 1990's, I'll come clean too.
I looked into H2 for a while as well until I learned about all of the limitations that folks have presented above.
I'm not quite as strongly against it as Dan is. There may be places where extra energy is available that must be carried to be useful and there exists a need for the low-grade waste heat produced for other purposes.
Unfortunately, Iceland is the only place I know of that might fit the bill. It has an abundance of energy but can't make it profitable without finding a way to transport it to where it is needed. Their climate also means they have a lot of need for low-grade heat for home heating. I can see how it might be worthwhile for Iceland to produce H2 using their abundant geo-thermal energy to electrolyze their abundance of fresh water (snowmelt) and liquify the H2. They could then tap the waste heat from these processes to heat their homes. The rest of the world could then pump the H2 into their natural gas distribution system and use it along with natural gas.
Unfortunately, it seems that natural gas is still way too cheap for this to be cost effective.
Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco might also be able to do similarly. They don't have much need for the extra heat but their abundance of solar energy collection area might offset it.
Fuel Cells though? I dabbled in them and, other than for electrolyzing the H2O into H2, I don't see much use for them. H2 burns nicely in an ICE.
Good news about the DCFC. That puts Phoenix and Tucson within fairly reasonable Leaf range!

· David Martin (not verified) · 2 years ago

@valkraider said:
' "poor" people can afford solar. They would just need to choose to install solar instead of a few packs of cigarettes, a couple movie theater movies, or any other thing people waste money on.'

You are apparently unaware that poor people rent, not buy.
In view of such an absurd and obtuse statement, I can't even be bothered to read the rest to find our what other nonsense you are spouting.

· · 2 years ago

@David Martin,
You apparently got so tied up in valkraider's fiscal priority comments (which I agree with in the majority of cases) and missed the comment that "Now that we have the "no upfront costs lease" programs it is even easier.".
The only way to get electricity cheaper without capital outlay, than leased solar, at least in CA, is through welfare subsidized electricity. While this is preferred by liberal politicians, it doesn't make sense financially.

· · 2 years ago

Why do people tend to make discussions like this an *all or nothing* type thing? The world is not black/white and some things may or may not work for 100% of the people but are still worthwhile to do for those they *can* work for.

"You are apparently unaware that poor people rent, not buy."

Uhm, not exactly.

First, there are *tons* of below median income people who buy/own homes. Of course - they just aren't big McMansions in posh suburbs. As I mentioned I grew up in a below poverty level family yet my parents bought property and still own it. My father built our house mostly using left-over supplies from construction sites he worked at. I know many people who own homes without making a lot of money. (Or did you perhaps mean "poor people _with bad credit_ rent, not buy" ?)

Second, we rent AND are working with our landlord to get solar.

The solar lease programs are very doable on rentals. Ours, for example, is expected to add $15 to our rent with no up-front costs to our landlord. It will save us from $20 a month in the shortest winter days to over $50 a month on the sunny days - so as renters we actually come out ahead - and as soon as my EV comes in we will save even more as we transition from gasoline miles to electric miles off-set by solar power.

Solar power won't work for folks in apartments, sure (unless the complex wants to add it for marketing/advertising purposes, we have a few around here that market themselves as "green" places to live). But EVs don't work super well for those people either unless the complex installs charging units which is also unlikely to happen.

Also, landlords can reap tax benefits for installing solar on their rentals - depending on their state and locality.

· Jesse Gurr (not verified) · 2 years ago

How about we use a Natural gas fuel cell instead? The infrastructure is already in place. Efficiency of the system is about 60%. I think it would be better than producing hydrogen at a central location and then trying to build the pipes to deliver it to hydrogen stations.

You would have electricity generated by natural gas at 60% efficiency, then transmitted to the hydrogen plant to use to make hydrogen, from more natural gas. It seems a little, ok a lot, wasteful.

The link I found is a few years old but still has good info. It might actually be more efficient than burning the gas directly in the engine.

http://evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=1756

· · 2 years ago

Somewhat relating to the conundrum of adapting solar PV to tall apartment buildings, there might be a way to get useful electricity out of such structures without photovoltaic methods.

Several weeks ago, University of Arizona grad students were displaying their projects out on the campus mall and the general public was encouraged to step up and ask questions. I was drawn to an architectural model of a skyscraper with tiny porcupine-like probes sticking out of it. The grad student who was showing it explained to me that it was part of a system of piezoelectric probes that would generate electricity from the natural flexing of the building and wind whistling on the exterior . . . perhaps enough to provide power to the entire building or at least make a meaningful grid-tied contribution.

Will this grad student's proposal work? I don't know. But it gives my a bit of optimism that smart people are already thinking about this sort of thing. The idea of getting renewable energy for EV charging out of a big building might be on the horizon.

· · 2 years ago

@Jesse Gurr,
The problem I'm aware of with using Natural gas (or gasoline/diesel) directly in a fuel cell is that the carbon in it clogs the 'pores' in the membranes of the cells. To prevent this, most natural gas solutions have to reform the natural gas into hydrogen locally before it can go into the fuel cell. This, of course, takes additional energy and resources reducing the efficiency significantly and increasing the cost.
ICE are quite cheap and, in a hybrid configuration (which all FCEVs are) that allows constant output, can be fairly efficient compared with a fuel cell.

· · 2 years ago

@Benjamin Nead,
One suggestion I often start with for any alternative energy schemes that hope to harness some hidden energy source is the 'danger test'. If there is enough energy around to be useful, it is generally dangerous. This means we need to either collect enough of small sources of it to get enough (such as huge wind turbines) or tap already dangerous sources (sun, dangerous river rapids, dangerous waves, geysers, volcanoes, etc).
Building flexing might be able to take advantage of small energy sources because the building amplifies them but I'm a bit skeptical. There is a lot of wind energy that hits large buildings but I haven't yet seen any efficient way to harness much of it while leaving the building still inhabitable.

· Jesse Gurr (not verified) · 2 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver,
You are correct about the carbon thing. From what I read, they call it "carbon coking". But it seems that people from the University of Pennsylvania have found that using a copper-ceramic blend, that can be reduced significantly. Another problem is that there is a warm up period. Which leads to another problem, high operating temperature. As in 1,000 degrees C.
Although some companies have developed home fuel cell generators that will also heat water with the heat it generates. Don't know if they use the same type of fuel cell though.

· Tim (not verified) · 2 years ago

"Do you who killed EV? Stupid consumer and cheap gas did...

Get over it. EV-1 was a piece of junk. A two seater that doesn't go far. Gas was $1.60. Original EV-1 was powered by Lead Acid battery. Even the NIMH battery comes nowhere close to today's Li-ion in terms of energy density and energy per volume. You spend 40% of the battery energy to carry its own weight in the EV-1 (pb) and about 28% of the battery energy to carry NiMH batteries. That is a terrible weight to power ratio..."

The EV1 is EXACTLY the car I want. The EV1 went 120 miles on a charge on the NiMH batteries, was extremely aerodynamic, and quick. If I would've known about the EV1 and it would have been available in my area, no doubt I would've tried to get one. By the time I ever heard about it, it was too late. GM had already destroyed them. Maybe Ex-EV1 Driver can weigh in on this, but everybody that I've heard of that drove the EV1 loved it.

It was said above that Iceland is about the only place hydrogen makes sense because of the 100% renewable grid mix. If they want to do it, go ahead. The US doesn't have a 100% renewable grid and can't spare the water (or natural gas, if that's what they make hydrogen out of now, which also causes CO2 emissions) or electricity. The problem with turning all alternatives loose, besides the funding issue, is that fuel cells take away from battery development, and battery development is the only thing EV's need.

As for NiMH vs. Lithium, the 11-year old RAV4-EV's running on NiMH batteries are still around, getting near original range, after 100,000 miles, some after 150,000 miles. The only car from that time on lithium batteries is the Nissan Altra. As far as I know, only two of those are left that I've seen. I have 14-year-old NiMH AA batteries that still work well, but a 6-year-old lithium laptop battery that won't work at all and a second 3-year old battery going soon. I just upgraded my off-grid solar system to NiMH batteries, whereas lithium batteries are not compatible. Lithium may win out in energy density, but NiMH's win out in durability and safety. I don't need a 500-mile EV, or a 500-mile range on any type of propulsion. I drive 30 miles a day, at the most 140 miles a day, which the NiMH EV1 could handle, no problem. But thanks to the infinite wisdom of the CEO's of the auto manufacturers and the oil companies, I've been forced to wait for a suitable EV to come on the market when one existed 14 years ago. Now, the whole cycle of making EV's disappear is threatening to start again.

· Steve Hodge (not verified) · 2 years ago

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