Battery cars better than fuel cells to cut emissions

Tesla Model S electric vehicle

New York, Nov 15 (IANS) Electric vehicles that run on batteries are a better choice for reducing emissions than vehicles that run on hydrogen fuel cells, claims a study.

Cars with hydrogen infrastructure provide few additional energy benefits for the community besides clean transportation, said the study published in the journal Energy.

“We looked at how large-scale adoption of electric vehicles would affect total energy use in a community, for buildings as well as transportation,” said lead author Markus Felgenhauer, doctoral candidate at Technical University of Munich in Germany.

“We found that investing in all-electric battery vehicles is a more economical choice for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, primarily due to their lower cost and significantly higher energy efficiency,” Felgenhauer noted.

Electric vehicles come in two varieties — plug-in cars with rechargeable batteries, and fuel cell vehicles that convert hydrogen gas into clean electricity.

Battery and fuel cell vehicles emit zero carbon when driven. But to charge them or delivering hydrogen fuel on a large scale, a costly new infrastructure will be required.

The policy makers are figuring out which transportation technology — batteries or fuel cells — cuts total emissions at the lowest cost.

“Studies such as these are needed to identify the lowest cost and most efficient pathways to deep decarbonisation of the global energy system,” study co-author Sally Benson, Professor at Stanford University in the US, added.

For the study, the researchers compared cars that run on batteries versus hydrogen fuel cells in a hypothetical future where the cost of electric vehicles is more affordable.

“In terms of overall costs, we found that battery electric vehicles are better than fuel cell vehicles for reducing emissions,” Felgenhauer said.

“The analysis showed that to be cost competitive, fuel cell vehicles would have to be priced much lower than battery vehicles. However, fuel cell vehicles are likely to be significantly more expensive than battery vehicles for the foreseeable future,” Felgenhauer noted.