Hydrogen power

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macliam
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Hydrogen power

Post by macliam » Mon Apr 27, 2020 12:23 pm

Joe Bamford of JCB was on the radio this morning, suggesting that the government invest £500m in preparations for hydrogen power.

He argues that the UK has no advantage in battery power - and even less opportunity to profit from manufacture, but that whilst hydrogen power is recognized as being an important zero-carbon fuel, it is largely being ignored. He points out that the infrastructure that would be used to produce hydrogen by cracking water using green energy will take time and investment to create and equally that any cutover to use of hydrogen needs to be planned and funded.

I agree - I see battery power as a short-term solution and expensive in both monetary and environmental terms. There has been huge investment in the creation and improvement of battery-powered vehicles, but basic issues have not been overcome. The likelihood of battery-powered ships, or long-haul aircraft, etc. is low - yet both could be fuelled by hydrogen, either as a combustible fuel or via fuel cells.

However, any advances in usage (such as the idea of using hydrogen via the existing gas network to make boilers less polluting) will be hit by the ability to supply bulk hydrogen - whilst, at the same time, solar and wind power need to be sized to provide peak requirements.... but that means there will be "wasted" energy available off-peak that could be used for hydrogen production.

We need to be looking into this NOW.
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Re: Hydrogen power

Post by AAAlphaThunder » Mon Apr 27, 2020 4:14 pm

Hydrogen is no silver bullet. All options have their advantages and disadvantages. It's about striking the right balance.
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Re: Hydrogen power

Post by Boro Boy » Mon Apr 27, 2020 6:14 pm

Whilst I understand the advantages of certain Green Power, Transport for London (TFL) has been using Hydrogen Powered buses since 2011: http://www.hydrogenlondon.org/projects/ ... s-project/

I am told that these buses are expensive to maintain and even more expensive to purchase; so much so that TFL only ordered their next batch of Hydrogen Powered Buses in 2019 and they are due to go into service this year. With each bus costing in the region of £500,000+ (whereas a *normal "dirty transport" bus has a purchase price of a little over £300,000+) as well as requiring special fuelling arrangements to be installed in each depot, don't expect this switch over to "clean transport" to happen nationwide over night.

*NB: A "normal" bus carries an average price tag of £354,500 over its lifetime (around 14 years).
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Re: Hydrogen power

Post by macliam » Mon Apr 27, 2020 6:30 pm

AAAlphaThunder wrote:
Mon Apr 27, 2020 4:14 pm
Hydrogen is no silver bullet. All options have their advantages and disadvantages. It's about striking the right balance.
Who said silver bullet? However, hydrogen power has significant advantages over battery storage.
Boro Boy wrote:
Mon Apr 27, 2020 6:14 pm
Whilst I understand the advantages of certain Green Power, Transport for London (TFL) has been using Hydrogen Powered buses since 2011: http://www.hydrogenlondon.org/projects/ ... s-project/

I am told that these buses are expensive to maintain and even more expensive to purchase; so much so that TFL only ordered their next batch of Hydrogen Powered Buses in 2019 and they are due to go into service this year. With each bus costing in the region of £500,000+ as well as requiring special fuelling arrangements to be installed in each depot, don't expect this switch over to "clean transport" to happen nationwide over night.
Firstly, I don't know the cost of a comparible non-hydrogen bus. Secondly, I don't know what fuel-cell technology they use as it is not yet very evolved. Thirdly, I'd be interested to know why they are more expensive to maintain... but again, this depends on the technology used. Little more than a decade or so ago all the same things could have been said about electric-powered vehicles. The front-runners will always be expensive and have drawbacks - that's why investment is needed. Fuel-cells are not common, so they cost a lot..... imagine asking for someone to create a steam-powered engine from scratch now.

However, hydrogen power has so many advantages that it cannot be ignored - you can refuel like a petrol or diesel car, no lengthy charging. Fuelling points would be like petrol stations and require no expensive changes to the power grid to accommodate. The range and type of vehicle that can be powered is not limited by the weight of the fuel source. The fuel can be produced using off-peak power from existing solar or wind farms.... with no need for battery backup.

It's still early days, but if we put all our eggs in the basket of battery-power to replace internal combustion, either we will fail, or there will be things we can no longer do. it is a high-tech research-driven technology.... the stuff the UK is good at. It deserves investment.
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Re: Hydrogen power

Post by Chadwick » Mon Apr 27, 2020 6:45 pm

Boro Boy wrote:
Mon Apr 27, 2020 6:14 pm
Whilst I understand the advantages of certain Green Power, Transport for London (TFL) has been using Hydrogen Powered buses since 2011: http://www.hydrogenlondon.org/projects/ ... s-project/

I am told that these buses are expensive to maintain and even more expensive to purchase; so much so that TFL only ordered their next batch of Hydrogen Powered Buses in 2019 and they are due to go into service this year. With each bus costing in the region of £500,000+ (whereas a normal "dirty Transport" bus costs a little over £300,000+) as well as requiring special fuelling arrangements to be installed in each depot, don't expect this switch over to "clean transport" to happen nationwide over night.
That is the problem neatly summarised. The status quo of carbon based fuels has an established production and supply chain, and for various reasons (including mass use) it is cheap.

New 'green' fuels require new infrastructure, new production, new distribution etc, but will initially only be used by a very small proportion of the population. The cost of all that new development needs to be recovered, and this makes the new alternatives more expensive.

Any company investing in the expensive option risks making its product more expensive to the end user, in return for no immediate tangible benefit - just a feel good factor. That translates as 'uncompetitive', and usually results in reduced sales, income and profits.

Any government doing the same, likewise risks making itself an unattractive base for industry. Witness the world's preference for manufacturing in the Far East, where we know facilities fall short of the standards expected in the West and we still have to ship it half way round the world, but it is cheaper - and that's where the thought process stops. (If I'd put 'cheaper' at the beginning of that sentence, I wouldn't have written the other stuff about standards and shipping because it would have been redundant.)

How to change it? Three options spring to mind:
  1. Government nudges, encourages, even sets deadlines for industries to make the change. This is the current position, eg. the end of petrol/diesel cars. Hopefully this gives enough time for gradual change, the costs of which can be absorbed. Also, everyone is in the same position, so nationally there is no disadvantage to making the change.
  2. Demand changes. The public spend their money on the greener alternative. Quite a challenge to steer our hearts and minds; various groups have been trying to do this very visibly and loudly since the 1960s (basically since TV allowed imagery to be quickly spread about). But as it stands, we don't care enough. Plastic in the sea - I'd love to change but throwaway plastic bottle are so cheap and so convenient; who wants to carry an empty bottle all day? Ice caps melting - I'd love to save the polar bears and stop London flooding, but I'm worried I can't drive 300 miles on one charge in my electric car.
  3. Government shakes the magic money tree and just throws money at the problem. Grants, subsidies, loans, whatever it takes, billions of pounds with no upper limit, available to small, medium and large businesses to develop the production, distribution and consumption technology. Payment schemes to support newly redundant employees of the carbon fuel producers while they retrain, and seek other jobs. Unthinkable! Who could imagine a government ever doing that!?

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Re: Hydrogen power

Post by planteria » Tue Apr 28, 2020 8:06 am

one of my friends was involved with a project developing hydrogen powered vehicles.
apparently the technology was acquired by a manufacturer, but they have so far chosen not to use it.
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Re: Hydrogen power

Post by macliam » Tue Apr 28, 2020 1:37 pm

planteria wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 8:06 am
one of my friends was involved with a project developing hydrogen powered vehicles.
apparently the technology was acquired by a manufacturer, but they have so far chosen not to use it.
This sounds like a lot of the early research into electric power - particularly hybrid vehicles. Much was "bought" by oil companies and major motor manufacturers, who sat on it and continued to do so until they saw an advantage in jumping on the bandwagon. It's interesting that Tesla has managed to get performance and range out of battery-powered vehicles that most of the "traditional" manufacturers still fail to attain - even in "premium" products.

Fuel-cell research has been "niche" for years and there are issues with the storage and transfer of hydrogen that are mainly being studied in Universities, not by manufacturers. When this changes, there will be advances similar to those seen in the electric vehicle market.... it's just a case of the impetus to change.
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Re: Hydrogen power

Post by macliam » Tue Apr 28, 2020 1:48 pm

Chadwick wrote:
Mon Apr 27, 2020 6:45 pm
Boro Boy wrote:
Mon Apr 27, 2020 6:14 pm
Whilst I understand the advantages of certain Green Power, Transport for London (TFL) has been using Hydrogen Powered buses since 2011: http://www.hydrogenlondon.org/projects/ ... s-project/

I am told that these buses are expensive to maintain and even more expensive to purchase; so much so that TFL only ordered their next batch of Hydrogen Powered Buses in 2019 and they are due to go into service this year. With each bus costing in the region of £500,000+ (whereas a normal "dirty Transport" bus costs a little over £300,000+) as well as requiring special fuelling arrangements to be installed in each depot, don't expect this switch over to "clean transport" to happen nationwide over night.
That is the problem neatly summarised. The status quo of carbon based fuels has an established production and supply chain, and for various reasons (including mass use) it is cheap.

New 'green' fuels require new infrastructure, new production, new distribution etc, but will initially only be used by a very small proportion of the population. The cost of all that new development needs to be recovered, and this makes the new alternatives more expensive.

Any company investing in the expensive option risks making its product more expensive to the end user, in return for no immediate tangible benefit - just a feel good factor. That translates as 'uncompetitive', and usually results in reduced sales, income and profits.

Any government doing the same, likewise risks making itself an unattractive base for industry. Witness the world's preference for manufacturing in the Far East, where we know facilities fall short of the standards expected in the West and we still have to ship it half way round the world, but it is cheaper - and that's where the thought process stops. (If I'd put 'cheaper' at the beginning of that sentence, I wouldn't have written the other stuff about standards and shipping because it would have been redundant.)

How to change it? Three options spring to mind:
  1. Government nudges, encourages, even sets deadlines for industries to make the change. This is the current position, eg. the end of petrol/diesel cars. Hopefully this gives enough time for gradual change, the costs of which can be absorbed. Also, everyone is in the same position, so nationally there is no disadvantage to making the change.
  2. Demand changes. The public spend their money on the greener alternative. Quite a challenge to steer our hearts and minds; various groups have been trying to do this very visibly and loudly since the 1960s (basically since TV allowed imagery to be quickly spread about). But as it stands, we don't care enough. Plastic in the sea - I'd love to change but throwaway plastic bottle are so cheap and so convenient; who wants to carry an empty bottle all day? Ice caps melting - I'd love to save the polar bears and stop London flooding, but I'm worried I can't drive 300 miles on one charge in my electric car.
  3. Government shakes the magic money tree and just throws money at the problem. Grants, subsidies, loans, whatever it takes, billions of pounds with no upper limit, available to small, medium and large businesses to develop the production, distribution and consumption technology. Payment schemes to support newly redundant employees of the carbon fuel producers while they retrain, and seek other jobs. Unthinkable! Who could imagine a government ever doing that!?
The slowly-growing realization that "going green" will require changes for everyone will help. The abandonment of gas boilers, apart from the relative inefficiency and higher cost of alternates, might well be an impetus for hydrogen production. The cost and timescales of increasing the capacity of the electricity network to allow for fast charging of electric vehicles will also be a sticking point.... currently it's being ignored. The use of hydrogen, even as an alternative combustible gas, has advantages when put into this context.
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Re: Hydrogen power

Post by macliam » Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:16 am

A report from the California Energy Commission (the state's primary energy policy and planning agency) has said that hydrogen could be as cheap as petrol in 5 years time.
https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/chea ... ost-study/

Toyota is ready to sell the new fuel-cell powered Mirai in California, though the cost is likely to be around $60k, so not exactly mainstream......yet.
https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/toyo ... nge-price/
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Re: Hydrogen power

Post by AAAlphaThunder » Sat Jun 13, 2020 7:31 pm

$60k too high a price tag for the average person.
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