In recent months we are seeing how some administrations are betting on the electrification of their fleets. But while most opt for battery-powered electric models, there are still some that are not clear about it and continue allocating money to hydrogen models. And this despite the warnings of the experts that hydrogen in this sector is a complete waste.
The last to indicate it was David Cebon. Professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Cambridge and member of the Hydrogen Science Coalition. An organization created by academics and researchers to provide information on the future of hydrogen.
Cebon was recently in Barcelona to participate in the Global Assembly on Green Hydrogen, inaugurated by the Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, and there he wanted to make it clear that some of the uses we are now giving to green hydrogen are highly inefficient.
According to Cébon, in statements to the daily Arathe use of hydrogen does not make sense from an economic or sustainability point of view in sectors such as heating or transportation. In the case of air conditioning a building or a home using green hydrogen, you need six times more energy than if you do it with an electric heat pump.
Hydrogen buses, for their part, indicate that they consume between three and four times more electricity than an electric bus would consume. Electrifying vehicles directly is much more effective.
Real consumption difference between hydrogen bus and electric bus
We can make a comparison that puts on the table the data that is often missing in the presentations of electrification projects. This will be thanks to Barcelona Metropolitan Transport Company (TMB), which is adopting battery-powered and hydrogen electric models, and which has exclusively provided us with the cost of refueling those that work with a fuel cell.
According to the TMB, a 12-meter hydrogen bus has an average consumption of 9 kilos every 100 kilometers. (Interestingly, a report published some time ago by the TMB itself indicated an average consumption of 28 kilos per 100 km, which would drop to 15 kilos with the most modern models. See screenshot.)
This taking into account that in summer consumption increases while in summer it decreases. A kilo of H2O that costs them according to the agreement they have reached with Iberdrola 9 euros per kilo. A value that is not fixed and that changes according to market prices.
This means that the hydrogen bus has an approximate cost of about 81 euros every 100 kilometers. A figure that we can compare with the 54 liters per 100 km on average that a diesel bus consumes, which with current prices and government bonuses will mean around 97 euros every 100 kilometers.
For its part, the electric one, according to the tests of the German TÜV Nord, in a model also with 12 meters of urban travel, achieves a consumption of 61kWh/100km. Something that translates into a residential rate of about 20 euro cents per kWh on average, about 12.2 euros every 100 km. This is without counting on the possibility of installing photovoltaic energy on the roofs of the operator’s facilities, or the possibility of negotiating cheaper rates for large consumers.
Then there is the cost of buses. According to the data, a hydrogen model is currently around the 1.25 million euros per unit. A figure that multiplies by six the cost of a conventional diesel bus. For its part, the electric ones according to the latest acquisition of the Madrid City Council from Solaris, has been closed with a budget of 12 million euros, which indicates that each Urbino unit of 12 meters and with a 400 kWh battery will cost about 500,000 euros.
Some devastating data that make it very clear that the hydrogen bus experiment has absolutely no economic or environmental supportand its adoption is defended according to TMB itself: «The commitment to this technology has been made with a vision of the future, and not so much based on current prices for this small series. However, taking into account the subsidies received from Europe through the JIVE2 project, the cost for TMB of these hydrogen buses has been the same as if they had been electric vehicles. Point out the benefits that are generated in relation to benefits in terms of autonomy and supply time.»
Therefore, it has been public aid from Europe that has made it possible to reduce the astronomical price of buses, and their only point in favor is refueling times.
But the point is that according to TMB itself, the Hydrogen production systems are quite problematic and they have a journey ahead to evolve. Something they have indicated in their own report.
And where can hydrogen be used?
Going back to Mr Cebon’s initial report, green hydrogen could be useful in those applications where it is going to replace gray hydrogen. Sectors like chemical plants and fertilizer production. Nor does it indicate that it makes sense to invest in electrifying sectors such as air and maritime transport in the short term, since these occupy only 2% of global emissions. So there are other emergencies before.
Source | TMB