US Lags Behind in Hydrogen Power Race

Despite being one of the biggest users of hydrogen power for powertrain applications, the US is lagging behind in the race to install vital infrastructure.

A study by global research consultancy IDTechEx, The Hydrogen Economy, Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Production Methods, suggests the world’s biggest economy is in danger or missing out on the climate change and energy storage benefits of the fuel in its hydrogen economy report. While both fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are slugging it out in the passenger car area, many automakers are viewing hydrogen as, ultimately, the better powertrain option for heavy duty vehicles requiring long range travel.

However, to achieve this goal, hydrogen refueling stations (HRS) need to be part of the existing fueling infrastructure. Yet, while the US is assessed as having some 35,000 vehicles, including everything from cars and trucks to industrial utility vehicles like fork-lift trucks, the study rates its HRS as -60.

Leading the way in hydrogen infrastructure is Japan with 133 HRS for its 3,600 vehicles, closely followed by Germany with a 76 to 653 ratio and Korea with 34 to 5,000. The report points out that last year Daimler stepped back from the development of the passenger GLC FCEV but did not completely abandon the hydrogen powertrain, shifting its focus to trucks. A collaboration with Volvo to develop fuel cell heavy-duty vehicles is likely to begin in September, opening a new chapter for the hydrogen technologies.

Although the FCEVs have not reached large scale production, this is the clear long-term goal adopted by several countries. The idea is to develop a hydrogen network, which aims the adoption of hydrogen as an energy carrier in different sectors. In other words, the development of the so-called hydrogen economy while reducing the cost of hydrogen.

The necessity of the hydrogen economy is driven by the requirement of reducing pollutant emissions while achieving a higher energy independence. Within the different sectors addressed by hydrogen economies, the automotive sector is one of the first to be developed.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_




Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *