UK government pumps £23m into hydrogen powered vehicles

Posted: March 21, 2017 by oldbrew in Emissions, Energy, government, ideology, Travel
Tags: ,

Credit: wheels.ca


But where will the hydrogen come from? As the report says: ‘Questions remain over how to supply hydrogen in a low-carbon cost-effective manner’. The trouble is these questions have been around for ever and show no sign of going away. Producing electricity, converting it into hydrogen then back to electricity seems unlikely ever to be a cheap process.

The UK government has revealed plans to pump £23 million into “cutting edge” infrastructure to accelerate the uptake of hydrogen powered vehicles, reports Utility Week.

The Department for Transport has invited hydrogen fuel providers to bid for match funding from the government for high-tech infrastructure projects, including fuelling stations, in a competition launching over the summer.

Transport minister John Hayes said: “We know availability of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure can be a potential obstacle to the take up of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. That’s why we’re providing support to give interested parties the confidence to continue to invest in this new emerging technology to help us achieve our ambition for almost all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2040.”

Hydrogen vehicles, such as the Mirai designed by Toyota, use fuel cells to turn hydrogen into electricity which is then used to power electric motors. Like petrol and diesel powered cars they can be refuelled at pumping stations in a matter of minutes but unlike their conventional counterparts only emit water.

“Toyota believes hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles can play an important role in the transition to a low carbon, low emissions society,” said Toyota GB president and managing director Paul Van der Burgh. “We chose the UK as one of the first international markets for our Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car and are pleased that the government is investing in this programme to encourage the further development of refuelling infrastructure and the wider uptake of fuel cell vehicles.”

Questions remain over how to supply hydrogen in a low-carbon cost-effective manner. The fuel can be produced by passing electricity through water – a process known as electrolysis. This allows excess generation from renewables to be stored until it is needed, assisting with their integration into the energy system. However, the process is inefficient – giving back much less power than is put in – and is therefore also expensive.

One alternative would be to produce hydrogen from a fossil fuel feedstock, using carbon capture and storage (CCS) to get rid of the emissions, although there are similarly concerns over the cost of CCS.

Hydrogen is being examined as a possible solution to the decarbonisation of heat as well as a transport and power. Northern Gas Networks worked with Leeds City Council on the H21 project, which explored the possibility of converting the city’s gas grid to run on hydrogen. The study, which was published in July, concluded that a complete conversion would be both feasible and desirable. 

Source: Utility Week – Government pumps £23m into hydrogen powered vehicles

Comments
  1. Stephen Richards says:

    hydrogen needs nuclear

  2. Climatism says:

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    More ad-hoc (taxpayer funded) green centralised planning, bound to fail like most centralised planning inevitably does when price/efficiency signals are elimainated and/or created artificially.

    Can’t wait when society loses its eco-fear and Leftist anti-capitalistic, climate alarmist taboos and gets serious about energy, in particular hydrogen ‘fusion’. IMO the future of energy. With its primary fuel source – sea water!

  3. oldbrew says:

    The hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai costs a crazy £66,000 – not quite the people’s car :/
    http://www.topgear.com/car-reviews/mirai/first-drive

    For less than a third of the Mirai price there’s the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/hyundai/hyundai-ioniq-review/

  4. michael hart says:

    I’m OK with them spending what is really a small amount when compared to the huge sums thrown away on cli-sci in general. At least the money is being spent on people who actually DO SOMETHING, not Cassandras who sit on their fat models all day predicting the end of the world.

    Ultimately they’ll probably just have to accept significant energy losses and focus on reducing losses and making electricity as cheap as possible in order to get the whole equation looking attractive. And, as Stephen Richards points out, that is going to mean nuclear.

  5. A C Osborn says:

    Not just added costs, but also less safety.
    Hydrogen has all sorts of issues, especially leaks.
    As for using for heating, they are absolutely barking mad.

  6. Mike Williams says:

    fyi: Vancouver had 20 Ballard hydrogen-powered buses in their fleet…the hydrogen was shipped from Quebec (3000kms) where it was extracted from natural gas.

  7. oldbrew says:

    Mike W – they could have just run the buses on the gas.
    http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy00osti/28377.pdf

  8. AlecM says:

    25% efficiency H2 to car electrons times 30% efficiency grid electrons to H2 = 7.5% system efficiency.

    Am I wrong?

  9. oldbrew says:

    ‘This allows excess generation from renewables to be stored until it is needed, assisting with their integration into the energy system. However, the process is inefficient – giving back much less power than is put in – and is therefore also expensive.’

    Using subsidised wind-generated electricity to create hydrogen to charge batteries to run cars has to be expensive, inefficient and convoluted. So why bother?

    Another problem is the vast amount of power required to run all vehicles on electricity.

    ‘Each year, German vehicles burn around 572 terawatt-hour (TWh)‘s worth of liquid fuels. Based on the above efficiency savings, a fully electrified road transport sector would use around 229 TWh. So Germany would use less energy overall (as petrol is a source of energy) but it would need an astonishing amount of new renewable or nuclear generation.’

    http://theconversation.com/germanys-plan-for-100-electric-cars-may-actually-increase-carbon-emissions-72997

    So it’s wishful thinking unless entire countries are going to be covered in wind turbines.

  10. oldbrew says:

    The US Dept. of Energy says:

    RESEARCH FOCUSES ON OVERCOMING CHALLENGES

    — Reducing the capital cost of the electrolyzer unit and the balance of the system, and improving energy efficiency for converting electricity to hydrogen.

    — Integrating compression into the electrolyzer to avoid the cost of a separate hydrogen compressor needed to increase pressure for hydrogen storage.

    http://energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-production-electrolysis

    So efficiency is poor and compression/storage is another expense.
    Not looking good for hydrogen power.

  11. Anthony Ratliffe says:

    In a previous life, the large engineering company I then worked for experimented with hot isostatic pressing of rather high tech metal powders. The problems of handling hydrogen turned out to be insuperable at an acceptable cost. H2 as a molecule is TINY, and migrates through everything when under pressure. We gave up the research.

    Tony.

  12. Mike says:

    Having worked on an ammonia plant for many years I would not want to be near let alone in a car powered by hydrogen. They are totally barking.

  13. Saighdear says:

    Ye same olde problem: when ye run out of fuel – you have a Jerrican in the boot ?

  14. Zeke says:

    “Northern Gas Networks worked with Leeds City Council on the H21 project, which explored the possibility of converting the city’s gas grid to run on hydrogen. The study, which was published in July, concluded that a complete conversion would be both feasible and desirable.”

    Municipal governments. The new terror and plague to free republics.

    We looked up ours and discovered several of them had been arrested for various crimes.

  15. Derek Colman says:

    Absolutely bonkers. Hydrolysis produces hydrogen containing 80% of the energy put into it. Fuel cells are 40% to 60% efficient. So that means that only 32% to 48% of the electricity put into hydrogen production is delivered in the vehicle. It already looks bad, and I haven’t even included the energy used to compress the hydrogen. You are right, it will be expensive, maybe twice the price of petrol. But that’s alright because we poor people who can’t afford to buy the latest technology, can just pay a taxed subsidy to make things easier for the owners of hydrogen powered supercars.
    That’s only half the story. Hydrogen is produced on a commercial scale by splitting methane (natural gas) which is a cheaper process than hydrolysis. The process produces hydrogen and CO2. The CO2 is released into the atmosphere. In other words, it would be better to run the cars on methane because while only the same amount of CO2 is produced, the efficiency loss would be lower.

  16. Graeme No.3 says:

    Derek Colman:
    I notice you want to power the hydrogen car with a fuel cell, is that because hydrogen has an octane rating of 66 hence very poor performance in an internal combustion engine?

  17. oldbrew says:

    From Wikipedia:
    ‘The drawbacks of hydrogen use are high carbon emissions intensity when produced from natural gas, capital cost burden, low energy content per unit volume, production and compression of hydrogen, and the large investment in infrastructure that would be required to fuel vehicles.’

    ‘Hydrogen fuel cells are relatively expensive to produce, as their designs require rare substances such as platinum as a catalyst. In 2014, Toyota said it would introduce its Toyota Mirai in Japan for less than $70,000 in 2015. Former European Parliament President Pat Cox estimates that Toyota will initially lose about $100,000 on each Mirai sold.’

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_vehicle

  18. Gamecock says:

    Should we get to producing mass quantities of hydrogen from electrolysis, we will have to deal with the mass quantities of oxygen necessarily produced. Elemental oxygen is highly corrosive and creates unorthodox fire hazards.

  19. Mike Williams says:

    oldbrew – that is way too logical for politicians from Canada’s left coast (P.S. BC has huge supplies of natural gas while Quebec has none so the stock for that H2 had to be pipe-lined in from the Prairies or Pennsylvania).

  20. oldbrew says:

    Why hydrogen fuel cell cars are not competitive — from a hydrogen fuel cell expert
    http://energypost.eu/hydrogen-fuel-cell-cars-competitive-hydrogen-fuel-cell-expert/

    NB this website believes global warming is a threat, but it can be stopped by emitting less carbon dioxide.
    So sad 😐

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