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17 Jul 2019, 12:50
Julian Wettengel

Hydrogen fuel cell cars have climate advantage over battery electric cars at high range – study

H2 Mobility Deutschland / Fraunhofer ISE

For cars with ranges higher than 250 kilometres, hydrogen fuel cell drives are more climate-friendly than battery electric drives, mostly due to the greenhouse gas emissions that come from battery production, says the hydrogen infrastructure organisation H2 Mobility Deutschland, citing a study by Fraunhofer ISE. “For high ranges, fuel cell cars are more climate friendly, for low ranges it’s battery electric cars,” says Christopher Hebling, responsible for hydrogen technologies at Fraunhofer ISE. The researchers looked at full life cycle emissions from cars with different battery sizes, varying power mixes and ways to generate the hydrogen used as fuel. The higher efficiency of battery electric cars does not compensate the greenhouse gas disadvantage it has in production, the researchers add.

Fuel cell cars are often portrayed as an alternative to battery electric cars, but there is little demand in Germany. A mere 386 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are registered in Germany, or 0.0006 percent of all 64.8 million. Germany has not managed to lower emissions in the transport sector at all, but is supposed to cut its transport emissions by 40 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The country must establish alternative drives for private cars to significantly cut road traffic emissions. Germany’s carmakers have largely decided on strategies favouring battery electric cars.

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