Hydrogen as a fuel alternative
Electricity, hydrogen, natural gas, and green gas are fuel alternatives that have a lower impact on the environment and are available (to varying degrees) in the Netherlands today.
A hydrogen-powered car is an electric car that replaces a battery with hydrogen (H2) as an energy source. The hydrogen is mixed with oxygen (O2) in a fuel cell to create water (H2O), which produces electricity to power the car. The only by-products are water vapour and heat; the engine produces no CO2. Refuelling a hydrogen-powered car is the same as refuelling a conventional car; however, hydrogen-powered cars have a much further range.
Availability of hydrogen-powered cars
At the moment, there is a limited range of hydrogen-powered cars to choose from. Some brands, such as Hyundai and Toyota, are working hard to develop more models. The Netherlands currently has four hydrogen refuelling stations, but eleven more are expected to be created this year. The goal is to have twenty hydrogen stations by 2020 and fifty by 2025.
Fifty hydrogen stations
In addition to the fifty hydrogen stations, the Dutch government wants to see 5,000 hydrogen-powered cars and 3,000 hydrogen-powered heavy-duty vehicles on Dutch roads by 2025, as part of the climate agreement. This is quite the challenge, given the ambition of 2 million electric cars and 1.8 million charging points in 2030. Hydrogen-powered vehicles are more suitable for heavy transport than electric vehicles due to their longer range and faster refuelling capabilities.
Producing hydrogen as fuel
The government is particularly interested in using hydrogen as a fuel alternative in the industrial sector, for heavy transport such as ships, lorries, and public transport buses, and possibly to replace diesel trains. Producing hydrogen requires a lot of electricity, which results in considerable energy losses. In terms of energy production, driving a hydrogen-powered vehicle is less efficient than driving an electric vehicle at the moment. Only when hydrogen is produced in large quantities will it be an attractive option to use hydrogen-powered vehicles on a larger scale.
Using wind turbines and solar panels is becoming an increasingly popular way to generate renewable energy. Hydrogen is indispensable for achieving the CO2 objectives for industry, shipping, and freight traffic. As it stands now, however, renewable energy is not far enough along for us to invest in hydrogen-powered passenger vehicles on a large scale.
Is hydrogen-powered driving not yet a feasible alternative?
If you're looking for an alternative to fuel, you might want to consider an electric car. This may just be the perfect solution for you or your fleet.