08 Mar 2022

Is Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology Ready for the Mainstream?

08 Mar 2022  by   
Countries and companies worldwide – including automakers and oil giants – have been pouring billions into hydrogen fuel cell technology in the hopes that it will be one of the clean energy options that will help them to reach their climate targets.

That said, hydrogen fuel cell tech faces substantial challenges to mass market rollout.

Hydrogen fuel cell tech has taken off more rapidly in some areas than others. It is already rolling out in many parts of the world transitioning their public transit bus fleets and trains to zero-emission alternatives. That said, the potential for the technology is considerably broader, extending to industry, heavy-duty machinery, shipping, aviation, transport, as well as for residential and business electric power and heating. The US Department of Energy’s official fact sheet says “Fuel cells are the most energy efficient devices for extracting power from fuels.”

However, there remain a spectrum of challenges to the widespread deployment of H2. For instance, green hydrogen made using processes powered by renewable energy such as solar and wind remain expensive. Furthermore, renewable energy is reliant on weather and time of day. Moreover, refueling station infrastructure networks are not yet well established, limiting range of Hydrogen cars. The challenges are extensive and reach far beyond this list.

Vehicles such as heavy-duty trucks are seeing accelerated H2 fueling development as fleets are rolled out and the necessary infrastructure expands to where it is most appropriate to those that will be using it. Production facilities in various forms are being constructed in countries around the globe.

As green hydrogen becomes more widely available, it is expected to fuel a spectrum of types of vehicle while also holding the potential to store surplus grid power in a way that simply isn’t possible with current lithium-ion batteries.

Panasonic intends to show that hydrogen fuel cell technology is ready for mass market and will begin demonstrations in April 2022 of an RE100 solution at an in-house factory. It will demonstrate the solution that will supply 100 percent of the electricity consumed in business activities from renewable sources using a combination of Hydrogen fuel cell generators, photovoltaic generators and storage batteries. It represents the first time there will be an attempt to create an “RE100 Factory” using H2 at full scale. The company will use this demonstration to show its tech is ready for mass market roll-out.


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