Car manufacturers who have been advocating going the hydrogen and fuel cell way have just been slammed by the chairman of the Clean Fuels Foundation, James Woolsey.
“Hydrogen and fuel cells are not the way to go. The decision by the Bush administration and the State of California to follow the hydrogen highway is the single worst decision in the past few years. Someone may find a way to make hydrogen cheaply available but that is still some time away. Our estimates put building a hydrogen infrastructure at one trillion dollars. In the meantime you have to bring down the cost of a fuel cell vehicle by a factor of about 40 or 50 to make it affordable. Joining the hydrogen highway for families is a poor idea. For large fleets with a single filling facility it might work,” said Woolsey.
He then offers a solution: “The key is to do to oil what refrigeration did to salt at the end of the 19th century. Refrigeration, with the aid of electricity, did away with salt as a means of preserving food. No one fights with their neighbour over salt mines anymore.”
So according to Woolsey, the key is electricity – with both plug in electric vehicles, and plug in hybrids. 78% of cars travel less than 65km a day, which is within the average range of an electric car right now. By using off-peak overnight charging, all the cars that needed to be charged would not affect the US’s power grid significantly.