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Bob Meinetz's picture
Nuclear Power Policy Activist Independent

I am a passionate advocate for the environment and nuclear energy. With the threat of climate change, I’ve embarked on a mission to help overcome the fears of nuclear energy. I’ve been active in...

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  • Feb 24, 2020 12:25 pm GMT
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"Elon Musk’s Tesla cars may have changed the way we look at sustainable driving, but the company’s CEO remains unconvinced that hydrogen cars are the way of the future and even called the idea 'mind-bogglingly stupid.'

During an annual shareholders’ meeting years ago, the enigmatic visionary dismissed the advent of using hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles, calling it 'fool cells' and pointing out that 'success is simply not possible' for the energy alternative.

His statement years ago seems especially relevant today as the automobile industry continues the debate on whether or not hydrogen-powered vehicles are the way of the future."

Well-to-wheels analyses with DOE's Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model show that with a default hydrogen production pathway, fuel-cell vehicles emit only slightly less CO2 than comparable gasoline-powered hybrids.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 24, 2020

Well-to-wheels analyses with DOE's Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model show that with a default hydrogen production pathway, fuel-cell vehicles emit only slightly less CO2 than comparable gasoline-powered hybrids.

This statement was equally true for EVs as recently as a few years ago, but that didn't mean pushing forward EVs was the wrong move-- it was setting up the infrastructure for the benefits that would come as the grid become less carbon intensive. The GREET model surely is looking at what hydrogen fuel vehicles would look like today, not what they could be in the future if/when hydrogen production is decarbonized as well.

And is this analysis looking at all vehicles or specific types? Long-haul trucking would surely have different data than personal vehicles which would be different from municipal vehicles like mail trucks, etc. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 24, 2020

Matt, you're confusing two issues: making the grid cleaner vs. using hydrogen as an automotive fuel. There are excellent reasons why hydrogen isn't used to generate grid electricity; for the same reasons it is a woefully inefficient way to power electric cars (fuel cell vehicles are electric vehicles).

"The GREET model surely is looking at what hydrogen fuel vehicles would look like today, not what they could be in the future if/when hydrogen production is decarbonized as well."

"Would look like today"? The GREET model, to its credit, is looking at what hydrogen vehicles do look like today. Any future environmental value in efficiently powering vehicles with hydrogen ignores irreconcilable energy balance issues. It's only economical if hydrogen is created by steam-reforming methane, and only then because it can be (deceptively) marketed as a clean fuel.

Laurent Segalen's picture
Laurent Segalen on Feb 24, 2020

I am #team-elon.  Agree 100%

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