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Given the recent election results, it's very likely that there will be sweeping legislative changes in the areas of energy and environme...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fuel Cell Future Unlikely or Inevitable? Part 7 - How Soon?

In the prior parts, we looked at all the components needed for hydrogen based personal transportation. Each of these puzzle pieces possible, albeit expensive.
  • Production: H2 can be produced from clean sources, but the current economics dictates that the vast majority of any industrial level production would be from natural gas (See Parts 2 and 3)
  • Infrastructure: H2 Distribution Infrastructure is expensive to install and initially, there would be little demand to make it financially viable (See Part 4)
  • Storage: H2 Storage tanks have made great strides in the last decade (See Part 5
  • Fuel Cells: The heart of a FCV is the fuel cell, it converts the H2 to generate electricity. They are currently too expensive and short lived (See Part 6)
The logistics and expense required for H2-powered personal transportation will relegate them to little more than concept cars and media stunts for the foreseeable future. Honda has been leasing their fuel cell vehicle, the FCX Clarity, since 2008. I searched but could not find out how many are on the road today. In 2010, it was reported that there were a total of 50 FCX Clarity available for lease in the US with a target to have 200 available worldwide.

Toyota, Hyundai and others that claim they will have FCVs on the market "soon" will likely have similar demonstration projects that put little more than a handful of vehicles on the road near the few filling stations that currently exist.

In 2011, General Motors CEO Daniel Akerson said:
We're looking at hydrogen fuel cells... The car is still too expensive and probably won't be practical until the 2020-plus period. And then there's the issue of infrastructure.
Unless you live within a few miles of a H2 filling station, don't expect that you'll be able to walk into a dealership and drive away in a fuel cell vehicle sporting the new car smell within this decade.

However, if you are a FCV fan, don't give up just yet, stay tuned for Part 8 - A Foot in the Door for H2