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Ten reasons why hydrogen fuel outperforms battery electric

Aviation H2's Principal Engineers inspecting the engine of a jet engine they intend to convert to a clean fuel.

As the world grapples with the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat the carbon challenge, the transition to cleaner and more sustainable modes of transportation is paramount.

In this context, the heavy transport industry, encompassing trucks, buses, ships, aircraft and other large forms of commercial transport, plays a crucial role in the global economy.

According to the International Energy Agency, transport has the highest reliance on fossil fuels of any sector and accounted for 37% of carbon dioxide emissions from end‐use sectors in 2021.

Although battery electric vehicles are being used increasingly, they do not yet provide a commercially viable solution to decarbonising the heavy transport industry.

For this reason, United H2 Limited believes hydrogen presents a compelling case for powering heavy vehicles, ships and aircraft, offering a range of advantages over battery electric vehicles and traditional fossil fuels.

In this discussion, we will explore the key advantages of hydrogen, including longer operational ranges, faster refuelling times, higher payloads, high energy density, and independence from the grid for refuelling.

Additionally, we will delve into concerns related to sourcing materials for battery electric vehicles, scalability and existing infrastructure, the transportability of hydrogen, flexibility, versatility, and the potential for competitiveness with traditional fuels.

As one of the world’s largest hydrogen conglomerates, we are focused on delivering transformative hydrogen products which will provide carbon-free solutions for the aviation, marine, passenger vehicle, heavy vehicle, and railroad industries.

Some of our revolutionary hydrogen transportation companies and projects include H2X Global, Aviation H2, Titan Hydrogen, and TrainsH2Power.

Longer operational range

Hydrogen-powered vehicles can achieve longer operational ranges compared to battery electric vehicles. This extended range is particularly advantageous for heavy vehicles, such as trucks and buses, that need to cover significant distances without frequent refuelling stops.

Faster refuelling times

Refuelling a hydrogen vehicle takes a similar amount of time as refuelling a conventional gasoline or diesel vehicle. This advantage over battery electric vehicles, which require longer charging times, makes hydrogen a more convenient option for heavy vehicles or aircraft that operate on tight schedules or need to cover long distances without extended breaks.

Higher payloads

Hydrogen fuel cells are lightweight compared to the heavy battery packs used in electric vehicles. This weight reduction allows hydrogen-powered heavy vehicles, ships, and aircraft to carry larger payloads without compromising efficiency. It is crucial for industries like logistics, freight transportation, aviation, marine, and construction, where the ability to carry significant loads is essential.

High energy density

Hydrogen has a high energy-to-weight ratio, allowing for efficient energy storage in heavy vehicles. This characteristic ensures that hydrogen-powered vehicles can store and utilise a significant amount of energy, enabling them to travel long distances while maintaining operational efficiency.

Independent of grid energy for refuelling

Hydrogen can be produced through various methods, including renewable energy sources like wind or solar power. Unlike battery electric vehicles, which rely on grid electricity for charging, hydrogen fuel cells can be refuelled using hydrogen produced from clean sources or other low-carbon options, making them independent of the grid for refuelling needs.

This is an important advantage for hydrogen vehicles, as electric vehicles are predominantly charged using electricity produced from fossil fuels. 

Transportability of hydrogen as a fuel

Hydrogen can be transported in various forms, including pipelines, trucks, or ships. This means that hydrogen fuel can be distributed and delivered to refuelling stations or directly to industries, providing flexibility and accessibility for heavy vehicles regardless of their location. In contrast, electric vehicle charging stations need to be connected to a power grid or require onsite power generation, which creates challenges for remote regions.

Concerns regarding sourcing materials for battery electric vehicles

Battery electric vehicles rely on rare metals such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel for the production of their batteries. Sourcing these materials can raise concerns related to their availability, ethical mining practices, and environmental impact. Hydrogen-powered vehicles, on the other hand, do not face the same challenges as they primarily require hydrogen gas and do not rely on these rare metals in their energy storage systems.

Scalability and existing infrastructure

Hydrogen infrastructure can be scaled up relatively quickly compared to battery charging infrastructure. Existing fueling stations can be upgraded to accommodate hydrogen refuelling, and new stations can be established at strategic locations to support the growing demand for hydrogen-powered heavy vehicles. This scalability advantage is beneficial for the wider adoption of hydrogen technology.

Flexibility and versatility

Hydrogen can be produced from various sources, including renewable energy, natural gas with carbon capture and storage, or even biomass. This flexibility allows for a diverse range of hydrogen production methods, facilitating a transition to low-carbon or carbon-neutral hydrogen over time. Moreover, hydrogen fuel cells can be integrated into a wide range of large vehicles, aircraft and ships, making hydrogen a versatile solution across different sectors of the heavy transport industry.

Potential for competitiveness with traditional fuels

Hydrogen offers the potential to be competitive with traditional fossil fuels. It can provide similar refuelling experiences and operational capabilities to conventional petrol or diesel vehicles, allowing for a smooth transition for heavy vehicle operators without compromising performance or efficiency. This potential for competitiveness contributes to the feasibility and attractiveness of hydrogen in the heavy transport industry.

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