Hydrogen as fuel is ‘a disaster’ says Centre for Sustainable Road Freight

The use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel is a “disaster”, according to the director of the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight.

Speaking at the SMMT’s London HQ, David Cebon from Cambridge University told visitors: “Hydrogen is a disaster. It’s something that everybody should be saying ‘no, don’t do this. Don’t spend money on this’ to.”

Cebon said that 100kWh of generated electricity, once it’s been sent through the national grid to a battery, will provide about 65kWh of power at the wheels.

But if you take the same 100kWh and used it to generate hydrogen, stored that hydrogen in a vehicle and ran it through a fuel cell to create electricity to power the vehicle, this would translate to just 23kWh at the wheels.

That process, said Cebon, is “extremely wasteful”.

The government committed £2m to a fund in May this year to encourage more businesses to move to using hydrogen vehicles. It also spent £5m on the Hydrogen for Transport Advancement Programme in 2014, which funded 12 hydrogen refuelling stations across the country.

The direction of investment in alternative fuels was also questioned by the RHA’s director of policy Jack Semple at this month’s Freight in the City Expo.

Semple asked whether the government’s £25m spend on research into methane was “innovating in the right direction”.

He said: “For a fraction of what the government has committed to methane in the last few years, we could really move things forward. So it’s good to innovate. But are we innovating in the right direction?”