Why EVs batteries are more energy efficient than hydrogen

 In Vehicles

Improving energy efficiency in vehicles is an incredibly important subject of research and debate, and a recent study published by Air Quality and Climate Change Journal gives us the opportunity to look further into it.

It’s calculated that only 20% of the energy that we need to power up a diesel or petrol vehicle is actually used on well-to-wheel energy. Researches show that the remaining 80% is used for many other processes such as:

  • Oil extraction
  • Transportation
  • Refinement
  • Engine heat

When we look at conventional fossil fuel vehicles from this perspective is easy to understand how they are widely considered not very energy-efficient and overall ‘expensive’ for both consumers and regarding the use of natural resources.

Electric Vehicles Vs. Hydrogen Power

Studies show that battery electric vehicles are currently the most energy efficient solution because they have significantly lower energy losses compared to other vehicle technologies.
As mentioned for fossil fuel vehicles, energy losses can be represented by the different processes that are necessary to generate wheel-to-wheel energy, and that’s why the pretty simple and straightforward system needed to charge electric batteries present itself as the most efficient of the solutions available today.

Hydrogen powered vehicles are considered by many an excellent opportunity for the future of sustainable transportation; however, they are still not as efficient as electric vehicles mainly because hydrogen is still produced by using fossil fuel generated energy.

Key processes for the production of hydrogen, such as the extraction and treating of the water, the transformation of water into hydrogen or the simple transportation of hydrogen once it has been produced, are all still power up by fossil fuel.

The energy lifecycle process of hydrogen is quite complex compared to the straightforward use of electricity needed for electric vehicles and this is still a challenge that the industry needs to face to get hydrogen technologies on a zero-emission pathway.

Implementation of Hydrogen and Electric Vehicles in Australia

A recent report issued by Infrastructure Victoria, an agency that advises the Australian state of Victoria in planning public infrastructure, tried to predict the repercussion of the full implementation of hydrogen and electric vehicles in the state.

According to their studies, a full transition to hydrogen could be reached by 2046 and would need a 64 TWh of electricity, the equivalent of a 147% increase in Victoria’s annual electricity consumption. The power need to a transition to electric vehicles would still be very high (22 TWh) but still only a third compared to the energy need for hydrogen cars.

Some commentators believe that once renewable energy technologies will be fully developed, the issue of vehicles energy efficiency won’t matter that much anymore. However, considering issues such higher demand also coming from other sectors and the cost of energy that families would still have to pay to recharge their vehicles, let to believe that energy efficiency will always be an essential aspect in sustainable transportation.

The future of green transportation

Considering that the technologies currently available will still need years of development before they reach their full potential, commentators find difficult to pick the best approach to take environmentally sustainable transportation to the next level.

However is fair to say that, given the technology available today, electric vehicles seems to be answer as a large proportion of the cars on our roads could transition relatively easily to battery power in the forthcoming years.

However, research should definitely continue to develop other green energy technology for such as hydrogen for the transportation industry (especially for the long-distance form of transportation like tracks, shipping aircraft) and for other sectors of the economy in order to reduce future carbon emissions.

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