How Clean Is Hydrogen For Powering Cars & Buses?
A Few People Think It Is The Future… (Primarily Those Already In The Hydrocarbon Business i.e. Big Oil & Gas)
In this podcast on YouTube Robert Llewellyn talks with Prof. David Cebon who explains in plain English why only very poorly informed people think hydrogen will play a major role in the reducing vehicle and heating carbon emissions.
Prof. Cebon is not sponsored by any hydro-carbon producers instead he relies on facts not fiction to explain why hydrogen will not be used in gas boilers in the future. (If there is any case for hydrogen it will be the very rare exception and not the norm.) The UKs gas infrastructure which has a reported value of £40billion pounds will become in time obsolete. Spoiler Alert. Electric powered heat pumps will in time replace gas boilers. Prof. Cebon explains why.
Transport a few companies like JCB are betting on hydrogen as the future to power vehicles. Again Prof. Cebon explains why if cost is of any concern why electric is much cheaper than hydrogen.
Buses which run on hydrogen are 6 times more expensive per mile than electric buses. Again if cost is of any concern hydrogen is an interesting idea which just does not stack up when an accountant gets involved.
Just over an hour long this information deserves sharing as a number of councils in the UK including Birmingham Council which has a reputation for making very questionable decisions are investing public money in hydrogen.
For those who think hydrogen is the future. (Do not confuse me with the facts I have already made my mind up.)
Prefer Your Information In Smaller Digestible Chunks?
Lars is a Danish chap who being Danish is very keen to improve the environment but does not go around spoiling other people;s lives, instead on his YouTube Best In Tesla channel his cranks out videos which explain the virtues of EV’s and similar ideas.
In this video Lars explains in plain English why only someone being generously sponsored by a fossil fuel company would think that hydrogen will be used in the future of vehicles or for heating systems.
Action – I contacted West Midlands Mayor Mr Andy Street and got this reply via one of his colleagues.
Dear Mr Willcock
Thank you for contacting the office of the Mayor on 4 October 2022 regarding the business case for hydrogen buses. As this is a transport question Andy Street has asked me to respond on his behalf.
The business case for the 124-hydrogen fuel-cell buses is available on the WMCA website and can be viewed by going to:
Additionally, the report to the WMCA Board meeting in June at which approval to proceed with the project was given is available here:
https://governance.wmca.org.uk/documents/s7002/Report.pdf – this link does not work.
The project to deliver 124 hydrogen fuel-cell buses in the West Midlands is being funded by a grant of £30.4 million from the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) fund. The grant helps bus operators bridge the cost differential between diesel buses and more expensive zero emission alternatives.
The bus operator, National Express West Midlands (NXWM), is contributing the bulk of the capital cost of the project for the buses and refuelling infrastructure, at around £56 million. There will be no ongoing cost to the Combined Authority from the operational of the hydrogen buses as the fuel will be procured commercially by NXWM. Additionally, the Combined Authority is not putting capital funding into the project and will only incur project management costs, expected at no more than £0.6 million.
As detailed in the business case, hydrogen fuel-cell technology was found to be the most economically advantageous option for this portion of the West Midlands bus fleet, based at the Walsall bus garage, given the duty cycles of the routes operated from there. Battery electric buses are much more constrained in the achievable ranges and require significant supporting infrastructure for charging. Hydrogen eliminates the need to deploy opportunity charging infrastructure across the bus network or procure extra buses to cover for battery charging time.
I hope you find this information helpful, and I thank you for contacting the office of the Mayor.
Customer Relations Executive
The phrase “Please do not confuse me with the facts I have already made up my mind…”
The PDF with the business case in has all the relevant details redacted. Therefore proving nothing.
When the City of Montpellier looked in to the true cost of hydrogen buses they found that it was much more expensive than a battery bus fleet to operate. Michaël Delafosse, president of the municipality, said that they now expect hydrogen buses to be six times more expensive than electric buses because of the cost of operation (via La Tribune and translated from French):
“Hydrogen technology is promising. But we were helped on the investment but not on the operation. However, it would be six times more expensive than with electric buses. So, for the moment, we are giving up on hydrogen buses, we will see in 2030 if hydrogen is cheaper.”
While the city might have been able to purchase the hydrogen buses for less money, they calculated that the cost of operation would be 0.95 euros ($1.08 USD) per km for hydrogen buses compared to 0.15 euros ($0.17 USD) per km for the battery-electric ones.
Naturally I replied as I could not see any financial case to support this expenditure of public money…
Dear Mr Willcock
Thank you for your further correspondence on 6 October 2022 regarding hydrogen buses.
West Midlands Combined Authority, through Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), has set a target for a 100% zero emission bus fleet by 2030, as expressed in the West Midlands Bus Service Improvement Plan. Additionally, we want the West Midlands to be the fastest city region to transition to zero emission, with the aim of having 750 zero emission buses on the road by 2025. The Department for Transport has, through its Zero Emission Bus Test Certificate, set certain standards around what qualifies as a zero-emission bus, with these being buses which:
- Have no combustion engines on-board (including diesel heaters);
- Produce no regulated emissions from the tailpipe(s); and
- Achieve a 50% well-to-wheel greenhouse gas saving compared to a conventional Euro VI diesel over the UK Bus Cycle
The zero-emission bus definition, testing and certification regime means that in practice, battery electric and hydrogen fuel-cell electric drivetrains must be used. The Government’s National Bus Strategy (p. 73) encourages local authorities to take a technology-agnostic approach to bus decarbonisation, with bus operators leading on development of technical specifications to meet their operational needs. TfWM will therefore consider both battery electric and hydrogen fuel-cell technology fairly and is not promoting one over the other.
The submission to Government that resulted in the award of grant funding was developed in partnership with National Express West Midlands. The company carried out detailed analysis of the energy requirements for all its routes and hydrogen fuel-cell was identified as the most appropriate technology for the fleet at Walsall depot. The average daily kilometres per bus at Walsall depot is 210km with some duty cycles of over 400km per day. The latest battery electric buses on the market can operate 220-280km per day so would be unsuitable for a large number of routes at this depot. Otherwise, significant on-street opportunity charging infrastructure would be required, or extra buses would need to be acquired to maintain the same level of service. The higher up-front cost of hydrogen fuel-cell buses compared to electric buses therefore is largely offset by the savings made from avoiding the need for significant supporting infrastructure or additional buses. Hydrogen production costs are currently high but are expected to fall significantly in the coming years, with Government supporting early uptake of hydrogen through its Net Zero Hydrogen Fund.
The Government’s Hydrogen Strategy notes (p. 64) that hydrogen “is likely to be fundamental to achieving net zero in transport, potentially complementing electrification across modes of transport such as buses, trains and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).” We expect this to be the case in the West Midlands bus fleet, with hydrogen used on some of the more difficult-to-decarbonise bus routes, such as those operated from Walsall garage. You may be aware of the Coventry All Electric Bus City project, also being developed by TfWM, where an all-electric solution was identified as the most appropriate technology for that part of the bus network.
In summary, TfWM is committed to achieving a 100% zero emission bus fleet by 2030 and will work with the region’s bus operators to support them in transitioning their fleets, with battery electric and hydrogen being considered fairly.
Thank you for contacting TfWM.
Customer Relations Executive
I have no financial interest in BYD Buses – however it does not take long to see that they have buses capable of travelling 450Km on a single charge. I.e. charge them up at night and in the morning you are ready for another 450Km.
Best In Tesla is a YouTube Channel dedicated to clean energy and associated topics… March 18th 2022 they published this video.
I do not think you become the richest man in the world except by being more right than wrong. If you do not want to invest 21 minutes watching all of this video Elon Musk at 18.55 explains why his cars do not run on hydrogen.
Elon’s rockets do not run on hydrogen – they use methane instead.
In summary hydrogen is not and will never be the future for:-
No doubt someone will find an exception but that will be a very limited exception, 99.99% of zero emission vehicles will ultimately be battery powered. Of course there will be a few wrong turns along the way by some manufacturers but those still trading in the 2030’s will be using battery power and not hydrogen.
In this video the presenter uses buckets to explain visually why hydrogen is NOT the answer to vehicle propulsion. If after watching this video and you still think hydrogen is the answer to vehicle propulsion instead of batteries, try watching the video again.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing – Why did not Nokia see the smartphone coming? Why did not Kodak see the digital camera coming (they did invent it!). Why do some people think hydrogen will be the next source of power for vehicles? (Spoiler alert – it will not be.)
In This Video Tony Seba explains why disruptive technology usually sends the incumbent companies bankrupt and the new entrants eat their lunch…
Sorry the sound quality is not great, but look and listen beyond that, and this will remind you why some of the largest car companies on the planet will not be here in 10-years time and Tesla will almost certainly be the largest and most profitable.
In Part Two, Tony Seba explains why new petrol (aka gas) or diesel vehicles will become museum pieces in the next 10-years.
Sorry the sound quality is not great. For those interested in the punchline before they watch something hydrogen vehicles will not be in the equation. Battery powered vehicles will dominate the market. The variation will be in what kind of battery you will have in your vehicle. The high acceleration type or the it gets me there quick enough.
For those who still think hydrogen is the answer Tony Seba explains that clean electricity will be very cheap. Solar is already cheap and becoming cheaper, couple that with wind turbines and batteries, and this combination could supply all our needs. Who would not be in favour? Large fossil fuel suppliers and those sponsored by them (aka politicians).
From time to time Elon Musk throws out a comment such “as a solar panel farm 100 miles by 100 miles” (10,000 square miles) could supply all of Americas needs. Amazingly this is true.
In reality you would not build just one giant solar farm, but would spread that out around any country, but with batteries and wind added to the mix Tony Seba explains that this is far from fantasy economics and is a genuinely viable solution even in countries well away from the equator.
Whilst on the subject of batteries, with some imagination a sand battery can be used to store heat. You basically build a large silo, run wires through that. Heat it up when electricity is cheap (at night for example), then when you want the heat, you have pipes running through the sand, which takes the heat away. Already working in Finland.
This video shows the first deliveries of the Tesla Semi (HGV or Articulated lorry) truck. Not the first electric truck but the first which can do 500 miles on one charge fully loaded. Whilst initially production numbers will be low, demand will be enormous.
This truck has 3 drive motors each one is small and sufficiently light that they can be carried. By the end of 2024 Tesla hopes to be building around 1000 per week.
Q. Does it matter whether the world chooses hydrogen or batteries powered by renewables?
A. If the world wants to slow climate change then reducing fossil fuel usage and increasing the use of renewables to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is essential. Clearly using renewables as efficiently as possible makes the most sense.
I have always been fascinated by geography / geology. The fact that the land moves a few millimetres per year and over millions of years that equates to the Himalayas and so on.
In this video Dan Brit explains why sea level is not a constant. Many people think it is. Sea level has been rising for the last 25,000 years What causes the earth’s temperature to change? Dan explains why when any serious scientists looks at the data the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is a key ingredient of the temperature on our planet. The more carbon the warmer the planet