It has emerged that the Government will be spending a fair sum of money on hydrogen car development, with hopes of introducing 1.5 million cars to the UK’s roads by 2030. There is also word that the first hydrogen car will be introduced in 2013 according to UKH2Mobility, an agency comprising of various government departments, car manufacturers, tech companies and hydrogen providers.
Hydrogen Cars Costly
The main problem with hydrogen development in vehicles, similarly to electric cars, is price. The technology is still very expensive and there are questions as to whether they would have much demand. They would be significantly more expensive than petrol or diesel prices, however will in turn be subsidised by a 25% of price up to £5,000 government grant (currently available for electric cars). Incidentally, whether or not this grant shall be available in the future is still unclear. There is still no telling what car insurance quotes will be like though!
By 2015, the government wants to see 65 new hydrogen refuel stations, growing to 330 by 2025 up to 1150 by 2030. This is likely to cost an enormous £400 million – where is this money supposed to come from?
Electric or Hydrogen?
All this talk of hydrogen cars comes only a week after the government pledged to increase the number of electric charging points, as well as subsidizing private charging point installations at a potential cost totalling up to several billion pounds. The vision is one of a choice between hydrogen and electric cars coexisting, with those travelling long distances opting for hydrogen, and those travelling shorter distances or commuting in urban areas choosing electric.
This coexistence seems fairly short-sighted however, and does not take into account the leaps and bounds that one technology might make over another. We may find that electric car batteries and charging methods have advanced to the extent where range is no longer an issue, and where their performance excels that of their hydrogen counterparts. In such instances, one type may well be rendered obsolete by another, along with billions of pounds worth of infrastructure. This is not to mention the fact extracting hydrogen uses more energy than the hydrogen generates, as well as the safety implications of having compressed hydrogen in moving vehicles.
In short, governing bodies should not be so quick to jump on the bandwagon, rather, they should use the technology we already have to hand, such as hybrid and low-emission technology. New technology can quickly become old – we must find something that is proven first.