The Hydrogen distraction: An expensive, wasteful use of your time and money

Just stop with the hydrogen already. ...

Yesterday Australia’s first publicly available Hydrogen refueling station went into operation. Located in the ACT, this is hydrogen station is run by ActewAGL.

For those not familiar with ActewAGL, its a joint venture company that provides utility services in the Australian Capital Territory and south-east New South Wales and is a ACT Government-owned corporation. This means the ACT Government are so desperate for hydrogen to be a reality, they are paying to build out a non-existent refueling network.

Despite the hydrogen refueling station originally being scheduled for opening in December of 2019, the station is only now launching in Q1, 2021. That delay could largely be attributed to the lack of FCEV vehicles in the market. Even today, neither the Toyota Mirai, and Hyndai Nexo Fuel-Cell vehicles are available for consumers to buy.

Despite the number of refueling locations available literally being at 1 right now, the ACT Government has purchased 20 of them, presumably to be seen to be green, purchasing a zero emission vehicle.

The problem with that is just how irresponsible that decision is, using tax payer’s dollars to buy hydrogen vehicles, when there’s far better Electric Vehicle options on the market.

CarAdvice have had a chance to review the Nexo (which doesn’t include purchase price costs). In that review, they reveal the price per kg is $15. Given the 150L tank, the cost of refueling using hydrogen is a massive $90 to reach the maximum range of 666km.

Filling the 150-litre tank from empty will take five minutes and grant you a combined range of 666km. In terms of cost, 150-litres of hydrogen weighs 6kg. The cost at the pump currently is $15 per kg, which results in a full tank from empty costing $90.

While the range of 666km for the vehicle is impressive and a refuel time of , they had to put a massive tank in the car to achieve that. A $90 cost to refuel places this as one of the most expensive vehicles to run.

  • $90 Hydrogen refueling / per 666km = 0.135 per km
  • $44 Supercharging a Tesla / per 600km = 0.0733 per km ($0.47 per kWh)

Things get even more interesting if we look at charging at home, which attracts a much cheaper rate, particularly if we include off-peak rates, given a majority of EV charging is scheduled to occur overnight.

  • $15.45 Off-peak charging a Tesla at home / 500km range = 0.0309 per km (0.1818kw/h).

Basically the cost of travelling in the Hyundai Nexo, versus a Tesla Model 3, is almost double at Supercharging rates and as we know, there’s not only hundreds of Tesla Superhcarging locations around the country, there’s hundreds more fast chargers from 3rd party networks.

When we consider the Hydrogen versus charging overnight using off-peak electricity prices, it’s almost criminal to consider a Nexo by comparison and that’s before you account for the reduced servicing costs. If Tesla isn’t you’re thing, there’s a growing number of great EVs to choose from and all have similar economic and the same zero-emission story that just beats Hydrogen every day of the week.

There’s no simpler way of saying this than the economics of hydrogen don’t make sense. The lack of infrastructure doesn’t make sense. This attempt by multiple Government bodies to fund Hydrogen is a waste of time, effort and especially money. Instead, Governments should be using this capital to accelerate charging infrastructure for cars that people will actually buy.

The one advantage of a hydrogen vehicle is the refueling time of 3-5 minutes, but that’s easily outweighed by the dramatic inconvenience of having to travel to this location to refuel. If you don’t live or work near this location (99.99% of the population don’t), then a hydrogen car just doesn’t make sense in any way shape or form.

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GeneralVehicles

Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021
5 Comments on this post.

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  • Jnrdavo
    28 March 2021 at 6:59 am

    What about the overall cost of the Tesla including batteries compared to the hydrogen cars?
    Also, What are the long term plans for the batteries and their precious metals?
    Surely hydrogen deserves a deeper look into its viability in Australia?

    Leave a Reply
    • DavidN
      29 March 2021 at 4:08 pm

      Firstly there is little cost difference, and the hydrogen car needs far more maintenance.
      Secondly car batteries last a hell of a long time, and can then be reused for stationary power.
      Thirdly there are plenty of options becoming available for recycling these batteries when they’re finally past their “use by” date. However there are very few used batteries available right now, so nobody is rushing down this path.
      Fourthly V2G systems are being worked on right now, meaning that car batteries will be a huge advantage in stabilising the grid once automated systems are up and running- feeding the grid at peak, charging when there is surplus power.

      Hydrogen is complex, horribly inefficient and plain DUMB! Equally dumb is throwing tax payer dollars at it.

      BTW Why do you think the major German manufacturers have dumped it?

      Leave a Reply
  • DavidN
    28 March 2021 at 8:28 am

    Thanks Jason.
    There are about one hundred and one reasons to NOT consider a hydrogen vehicle, and only one reason why it would be a consideration. (Speed of filling, IF you can find somewhere to fill it.)
    Why do tax payers keep having to fork out for this incredibly stupid idea.

    About 8 years ago Elon Musk said “hydrogen is BS” or words to that effect. For the Musk haters out there (there are plenty for some weird reason) there are numerous other experts who say exactly the same thing.
    Even for heavy transport (trucks, trains, ships etc) it just makes no sense, as it’s such an expensive and inefficient means of propelling vehicles. (Maybe for aeroplanes due to the weight advantage but the design would have to be completely new from the wheels up, and development cost would be massive.) Sure- all of that may improve eventually with breakthroughs that are not yet here- that day may well still be decades away.
    Take trucking: a big part of the cost of the operation is diesel and engine maintenance. An electric truck is much cheaper to fuel, much cheaper to maintain. A hydrogen truck would be dramatically dearer to fuel, and likely no cheaper to maintain, which means no trucking company in their right mind would want one. Then of course there is availability of fuel….. I’ll just leave that there.

    Why do people keep pushing the hydrogen barrow?

    Leave a Reply
    • Stefan Scheinert
      28 March 2021 at 11:00 am

      It’s easy; this is a logical path for the oil industry. So instead of gas you are dependent on hydrogen. Also, most hydrogen is generated from gas….So, as you said it doesn’t make sense.

      Leave a Reply
  • Al Hartl
    29 March 2021 at 4:37 pm

    The author is correct, hydrogen for cars does not make sense. But hydrogen is still needed, to make cleaner steel and cement. Less than 300 steel blast furnaces and cement kilns world wide are responsible for almost 20% of greenhouse gas emissions.

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