Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and hydrogen-fuelled vehicles should sit alongside one another in the future to ensure maximum energy efficiency, according to one expert.
Hugo Spowers, founder of Riversimple, which hopes to launch its first hydrogen vehicle in 2022, said: “Hydrogen and electricity as two parallel vectors gives us maximum energy efficiency. Some demands are met better by BEVs and some by hydrogen. We need both these technologies; we don’t argue over solar or wind turbines winning the energy race.”
He explained: “Electricity and hydrogen are very complementary. You can make electricity more efficiently from some sources and hydrogen more efficiently from others. For instance, producing electricity from wind is far more efficient than hydrogen. But when there’s excess wind, you can’t store electricity but you can store hydrogen. On the other hand, hydrogen is made more efficiently from biogas than electricity.
“There are pros and cons of both. Hydrogen makes more sense for vehicles with longer range or commercial vehicles, while BEVs make more sense for short-range vehicles. The efficiency advantage of having both is compounding.”
BEVs currently make up 1.4% of the new car market in the UK, whereas hydrogen take-up is negligible. The Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo are the only commercialised hydrogen cars currently available, while just 18 public filling stations are in place.
However, many manufacturers are working on hydrogen-fuelled vehicles in the background, even though electrification is a more immediate priority.
Helen Lees, electric and connected boss at the PSA Group, speaking at the same Auto Futures event, added: “Ultimately, our [vehicle] platforms have been designed for hydrogen in the longer term." She added that consumer perception of hydrogen cars remains a barrier alongside infrastructure, and that PSA believes hydrogen is much better suited to light commercial vehicles.