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Fuel cell cars: not science fiction!

First published on the Cleantech Investor website, 4 April 2014

Hyundai Fuel Cell Vehicle ouside City Hall, London (2012)A hydrogen future is becoming a reality in London and five other European cities, with the launch of the HyFive (Hydrogen For Innovative Vehicles), project, the largest of its kind in Europe. Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, says HyFive - which involves a fleet 110 fuel cell vehicles - will demonstrate that hydrogen “is not science fiction”. A total of 110 hydrogen fuel cell cars will be deployed throughout six European cities (Bolzano, Copenhagen, Innsbruck, London, Munich and Stuttgart), alongside the development of hydrogen refuelling station clusters. The project, funded to the tune of €38 million (£31 million) by the European Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) and the industrial partners, is being co-ordinated by the Mayor of London’s Office.

The FCH JU is contributing funding of €18 million with the balance of €20 million coming from the partners. The vehicles will be supplied by BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota. And hydrogen fuel companies involved in the project include Air Products, Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, ITM Power, Linde and OMV. Hydrogen filling stations will be built and operated in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy and the UK. All refuelling stations share internationally agreed fuel and re-fuelling standards.

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Methanol and Fuel Cells: Range Extenders for BEV

altA Fuel Cell Today Analyst View, by Dan Carter, republished courtesy of Fuel Cell Today

 

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Methanol is an attractive fuel for a wide variety of fuel cell applications. It is currently enjoying success across the world in various stationary applications, is of interest to the military in a number of countries to fuel portable fuel cells and is also extending the range and operational lifetime of batteries powering a small number of niche transport applications, such as materials handling vehicles. We have written a number of Analyst Views on the subject over the past two years covering the applications mentioned above, discussing methanol’s environmental credentials and the potential to generate renewable methanol, and most recently the work by Danish company Serenergy which was demonstrating the potential for methanol to power range extenders for small battery electric city cars. The major automotive OEMs however have not shown interest in the technology for many years, instead focussing on compressed hydrogen storage in combination with low-temperature fuel cells; that is until earlier this year.

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Hydrogen Infrastructure Developments in the USA

altA Fuel Cell Today Analyst View, by Dan Carter, republished courtesy of Fuel Cell Today

 

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The USA has a long history in trying to encourage the adoption of hydrogen as a transportation fuel. Its automakers led early attempts at introducing hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) and attempts have been made to develop the necessary infrastructure on both the East and West Coasts.

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The Cost of Platinum in Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

altA Fuel Cell Today Analyst View, by Dan Carter, republished courtesy of Fuel Cell Today

 

Just over two years ago, I wrote an article on the subject of platinum and its use in low temperature fuel cells. At that time the price of platinum was rising steadily and had reached its highest point since before the global financial crisis. It therefore came as no surprise that the subject of substituting platinum with cheaper materials was a hot topic. Since then platinum has decreased in price by around 20% and this drop has taken place despite the destabilising pressures in the South African mining industry which have not gone away, such as threats of strike action and shortages in electricity supply. With the imminent release of fuel cell electric vehicles in the coming years how much does the cost of platinum affect the cost of fuel cells and what is being done about it?

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Fuel Cells and Hydrogen in Scotland

altA Fuel Cell Today Analyst View, by Dan Carter, republished courtesy of Fuel Cell Today

 

Scotland is a country with very ambitious targets for the integration of renewable energy sources into its electricity mix. In 2011 its First Minister, Alex Salmond, increased the target for renewable electricity generation to be the equivalent of 100% of Scotland's own electricity demand by 2020. The plan is to achieve this goal by generating two times more electricity than the country needs with more than half of it coming from renewable sources. According to Scottish Government estimates, Scotland has a quarter of Europe's total offshore wind and tidal energy resource and a tenth of its potential wave capacity, potentially totalling 58 GW. Even assuming a low capacity factor of 25% this potential could meet the country’s current electricity needs more than three times over.

 

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The Fuel Cell Industry Review 2013

altA Fuel Cell Today Analyst View, by Dan Carter, republished courtesy of Fuel Cell Today

 

Click here to download The Fuel Cell Industry Review 2013

Last week we launched our Fuel Cell Industry Review 2013 which reported annual fuel cell system shipments in 2012 reached 45,700, an increase of 86% compared to 2011, primarily due to increases in stationary fuel cell adoption. In term of megawatts, the fuel cell industry exceeded 150 MW for the first time in 2012 reaching a total of 166.7 MW. Our expectations for 2013 are also included and we anticipate both metrics will again break all previous records, with shipments growing by 46% compared with 2012 to reach 66,800 units worldwide and for more than 215 MW to be shipped, an increase of 29%.

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