Are electric cars undemocratic?

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opplock
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If that is the case three cheers for Toyota. 

aerobod
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The major energy issue with hydrogen produced from non-hydrocarbon sources is that you need more electricity from an energy consumption perspective to produce it than the energy released, so an even bigger investment in power generation is needed than with electric cars. Another aspect is that it is very inefficient to use it by burning, much more efficient to use it in a fuel cell - basically the vehicle has characterisitics close to an electric car then, not an ICE car.

James

Mike Biddle
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There may be a requirement for more power generation to make the fuel, but there is not an enormous cost in distributing the required power to the locations requiring it compared to literally millions of electric car charging points for electric vehicles, ref post 10, how would we charge 35 million cars, most if them overnight at the owners home location?

On the other hand, if the existing 8,000 odd petrol stations converted to hydrogen production/sale then the distribution problem is pretty small compared to electric vehicles.

The Toyota uses a fuel cell system.

https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/toyota/mirai

Seems theres quite a way to go yet, but it looks very promising to me.

aerobod
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It will be interesting to see if hydrogen fuel cell cars gains much traction, as it's maturity as a technology on a cost-performance basis is now quite a way behind BEVs. Similar 1.8 tons BEVs with 120kW are about half the price when compared with the Toyota Mirai.

From a charging perspective with annual average mileages in the UK below 8,000, assuming the car needs charging when on average 50% of charge is remaining, that would mean about 50 charges per year, or once per week. This would be conducive to having a charge point in the city about as frequently as every lamppost. With 7.5 million street lights, the existing conduit could be used to install a pair of charging points next to or within the lampposts that are on residential streets. Then implement regulations restricting parking in those bays only when charging, as the average owner would only need to use it one night per week.

Lots of potential solutions, but it would be interesting to see what the cost of centralised delivery of a higher power capacity to fuel stations would be compared with lower power needs to street distribution points. As it takes about 40% more energy to produce hrdrogen than the energy extracted, assuming 120TWh of energy needed for electric vehicles (as mentioned previously), hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would require about 48TWh more of annual power generation, or additional capacity of about 5,500MW added to the grid. Wind power costs about £1.5m per MW, so nominally £8 billion of additional generation capacity and associated infrastructure for distribution (total finger in the air that would be about equivalent in cost). The question is would the hydrogen fueling infrastructure be cheaper to install centrally by about £16bn than using existing power conduits to install charging points at every residential lamppost?

Another problem with hydrogen at the moment is the cost is currently quite high, about USD$0.21 per mile compared with about $0.06 in the US: https://cafcp.org/content/cost-refill

James

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Hydrogen cells are the only viable solution, using battery packs is utter nonsense, range, weight payload for light CV's etc, never mind infrastructure...

I drove a Fiesta over 20 years back it was a cracking car then, I understand the technology is now owned by BP who oddly enough shelved it...

 

sforshaw
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The charging at home terraced street issue is about as relevant as worrying about how you're going to deliver the coal when everyone else has converted to natural gas, just a need to have the vision that in the future we'll do things differently.

Hydrogen fuel cells are definitely a consideration for the future, BMW were pushing this technology in preference to full electric and is likely the reason why they're now playing catch up in the EV market. My personal opinion is that we'll head towards a new era of hybrid vehicles, hybrid in that the drive will be electric but the power will be provided by a combined hydrogen cell / battery source. This enables a network of charging and hydrogen availability to provide for the range of vehicles that fill the roads from micro city cars to HGVs.

Stu.

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john aston
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I don't see what is 'undemocratic' about a parliamentary democracy deciding to charge different tax rates for different fuels.

It 's about incentivisation , and the initiative wouldn't stimulate much debate if some of us didn't like cars powered by electricity. And it's nothing new  - LPG is already taxed at nearly half the rate of petrol or diesel .And booze is a minefield  - you pay 4 times more on a really thumping red wine than you'd pay on what we call in our house 'training wine' , such as 4% Lambrusco

Mike Biddle
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Stu, the Toyota Mirai is exactly the hybrid that you suggest.

Average mileage may be low, but a significant proportion of owners will take occasional long journeys, and that is the EV weakness.

Averaging out charging requirements also does not work, what happens when demand increases on a Friday night because folks want to go away for weekend or shopping etc? I predict punch ups at charging points.

Mike Biddle
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Stu, the Toyota Mirai employs the hybrid system that you envisage.

Averaging out mileages doesn't really work, most people will go on the occasional long journey, and that's the EV weakness, which is I suspect the reason that Toyota are targeting fleet buyers first, looks like a good strategy to me, volume sales, attractive to high mileage users, gets the product out on the road in numbers, so good exposure, allows for close monitoring of performance and reliability with fleet owners.

What happens when charging demand outstrips supply just before the weekend in preparation for days out, weekends away, shopping etc? I predict punch ups at charging points.

As we have seen with EV's, economies of scale will kick in as volumes rise and prices of both vehicles and Hydrogen fuel will come down to more acceptable levels.

I also see it as a far more useable solution for trucks and other long distance vehicles like coach services.

 

aerobod
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A few quick calculations on what a realtime hydrogen fueling station would look like, assuming 12 pumps that could fill a tank with 5kg of H2 in 5 minutes (would give a range of about 500km / 300 miles). This would mean a facility capable of producing 12kg of hydrogen per minute or 0.2kg per second if no storage of hydrogen, to meet peak demands in a similar manner to a petrol station.

This sort of cell: electolyser cell stack is capable of producing 1 litre of hydrogen gas per minute in the largest stack size which has a volume of about 0.007 cubic metres and requires 288W to power. 1 kg of hydrogen contains 12,000 litres, so 0.2kg of hydrogen per second would require 144,000 units of this size (no doubt built into modules or with larger membranes), requiring 1,000 cubic metres of space (a building 10m x 10m x 10m) and 41MW of power at full capacity. I'm sure economy of scale would bring the electrolyser cost down by an order of magnitude from the current £166m for a fueling station of this size.

James