Hydrogen to be green vehicle of choice within five years?

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Words: Nile Bijoux
3 Sep 2019

Hydrogen vehicles might overtake battery-electric vehicles within five years as the most preferred alternative to internal combustion, or so say some Australian experts.

Motor Trades Association of Queensland's chief executive Brett Dale reckons the benefits of faster refuelling and longer range will push more people towards hydrogen cars over battery-electric models. Hmm, perhaps, but there’s added cost and complexity. 

"With hydrogen you're more likely to use the same behaviour as you would to go into a fuel station and refuel your car.”

The only emission from hydrogen power is water, as the system works by hydrogen gas passing through a fuel stack layered with oxygen, generating electricity.

Dale added that electricity for battery-electric vehicles is, in Australia, generated by coal-fired power plants, making hydrogen a cleaner option overall. It’s a little different in New Zealand as our energy is mainly generated by renewable sources like hydro or wind. The only variable remaining is how the hydrogen itself is generated, which probably isn't a carbon-free process. 

Range anxiety is still a prevalent worry among would-be EV buyers and hydrogen has battery-electric trounced there. "You get 1,000 kilometres per tank, which is great for [long distance] road travellers," Mr Dale said.

The biggest problem for Kiwis is the current lack of infrastructure. Hyundai and Toyota have both voiced support for the technology and Ports of Auckland is working on bringing a refuelling station to Auckland’s waterfront. Evidently Hiringa Energy in Taranaki is the only other confirmed point for hydrogen infrastructure at present.

So hydrogen is almost brilliant... in theory. Five years down the line things will likely be different regarding hydrogen filling stations but then BEV range will be greater, and faster chargers will have battery recharging done in minutes rather than hours.

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