Bet­ter to wait for hy­dro­gen?

Motor Equipment News - - CONTENTS -

As we have said many times, full EV ve­hi­cles are not the an­swer to all our needs in New Zealand, and have pit­falls that are al­ready com­ing to light (see p18) as well as huge in­fras­truc­tural prob­lems.

Elec­tric­ity in­fra­struc­ture com­pany Vec­tor in a re­cent “green pa­per” said the power re­quired to charge an EV with a long-dis­tance bat­tery in the suburbs would put a strain on ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture, as elec­tric­ity net­works had tra­di­tion­ally been sized based on the num­ber of houses on the street.

How­ever, each EV would add the equiv­a­lent of one to 20 houses’ power needs, and there could be prob­lems if all the EV own­ers chose to charge dur­ing peak time or use faster charg­ing op­tions.

This once more ac­cen­tu­ates the need for cau­tion be­fore rush­ing into new tech­nol­ogy, and cer­tainly be­fore ad­vo­cat­ing its wide­spread use with­out thought for the con­se­quences. Elec­tric­ity sup­ply com­pa­nies are push­ing EVs for one rea­son only – to make more money.

How­ever, as we have said be­fore, the fu­ture for longer dis­tance travel, and one which fits in with tra­di­tional ve­hi­cle use in New Zealand, is hy­dro­gen power us­ing fuel cells.

A fuel cell ve­hi­cle uses hy­dro­gen from a tank car­ried in the ve­hi­cle, and con­verts this to elec­tric­ity, which then drives elec­tric mo­tors to the wheels. The only emis­sion is wa­ter. Hy­dro­gen is pro­duced by us­ing (sus­tain­able) elec­tric­ity to split wa­ter into hy­dro­gen and oxy­gen, thus as­sist­ing re­ver­sal of the “green­house” ef­fect.

In Europe there are al­ready hy­dro­gen fill­ing sta­tions where the hy­dro­gen is made on-site, and ve­hi­cles fill up just like a petrol sta­tion, and nearly as quickly. There are no big bat­ter­ies to over­heat or de­grade, and nowhere near the waste­ful ex­tra weight that a pure EV car­ries.

And now Hyundai Group (in­clud­ing Kia), the leader in hy­dro­gen ve­hi­cles, has joined up with Audi, the “lead” on hy­dro­gen in the VW group, to share knowl­edge and even com­po­nents to get hy­dro­gen fuel cells into wide­spread use. And it’s will­ing to share with any­body else to reach this goal.

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