Hydrogen fuel cell EV production to charge up

Global production of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) is expected to reach more than 70,000 annually by 2027. That would be due to more automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

Global production of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) is expected to reach more than 70,000 annually by 2027.

That would be due to more automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) bringing FCEVs to market, according to a new report.

It states there are currently only three FCEVs available for consumers to buy or lease, all available only in selected markets.

However, the figure is predicted to jump to 17 in the next decade.

Most FCEV production is expected to be in Japan and Korea however European production will take the lead globally by 2021, the report adds.

While FCEVs have the advantage of short refuelling times and long range, the problem of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure still exists.

According to the report, hydrogen refuelling stations can cost more than $3 million (£2m) while EV charging stations are “relatively inexpensive”.

It adds there is already a “very well established hydrogen market” but 96% of all hydrogen produced is derived from fossil fuels, “the feedstocks being natural gas, liquid hydrocarbons and coal”.

The report states: “For truly sustainable, zero-carbon mobility, the hydrogen used to refuel FCEVs needs to come from renewable sources. This can be achieved using an electrolyser and electricity from a renewable source (solar PV, wind turbine, etc). However, the cost of green hydrogen will come at a premium compared to hydrogen from an existing plant, like a steam methane reformer.”

Ben Scott, Senior Analyst at IHS Automotive adds: “Recently there has been an increasing focus on battery electric vehicles and battery technology but FCEVs could also play a key role in zero carbon mobility. We are now in the third wave of FCEVs from OEMs and more Hydrogen Refuelling Infrastructure is beginning to be rolled out. This could be a ‘now or never’ situation for FCEVs in mass market mobility.

“There is no market today to justify that premium and that market needs to be created to encourage investment in upstream hydrogen production capability. There is currently a trade-off between hydrogen carbon footprint and cost.”