Road transport today is responsible for a significant and growing share of global anthropogenic emissions of CO2. Moreover, it is almost entirely dependent on oil-derived fuels and therefore highly vulnerable to possible oil price shocks and supply disruptions. Improving road transport requires all these issues to be addressed. Introducing alternative transport fuels and vehicles will also be necessary to achieve the objectives of decarbonisation, energy security and urban air quality.
A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that converts the chemical energy of a fuel (often hydrogen) and an oxidizing agent (often oxygen) into electricity through a pair of reactions. According to the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, hydrogen is the most common element and makes up 75 per cent of the mass of the entire universe. And, with an atomic number of one, it is the lightest element in the periodic table. Hydrogen fuel cells could have a huge impact on our planet. Fuel cells can have an efficiency of over 80 per cent, compared to internal combustion engines that currently operate at around 25 per cent efficiency and power plants at about 35 per cent.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if we wish to keep global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, which will already cause major drawbacks for future generations, globally the world will need to cut CO₂ emissions by 25% by 2030 and be net zero by 2070. Whichever way one looks at this, the world will accept either a climate emergency, or it must decarbonize, and the richer countries will have to bear the heaviest burden for it.
Fuel cell energy is good for use in backup generations or emerging lighting, as it could be stored for years. Storing electricity for future use has been a problem for a long time. Now, electric cars & buses contain a battery that needs to be charged which take hours and it discharge so quickly after driving a short distance. With Fuel Cells, if the cells have a constant hydrogen source, they can continue to create electricity. It means that instead of filling your vehicle up with fuel at a petrol station, you could be filling your vehicle up with hydrogen and you may travel a longer distance on Fuel Cells. Fuel Cells are noise and pollution-free; it is also available everywhere no matter where you are located. Fuel Cells would also be very cost-effective and easily available.
Some Middle Eastern countries that built their fortunes on oil are seeking to develop hydrogen as fuel, given a shift among some of their buyers toward less-polluting alternatives to crude. Three of Abu Dhabi’s biggest government-backed companies agreed to work together to turn the oil-rich emirates into an exporter of blue and green hydrogen. A new report from research firm Frost & Sullivan, which predicts that global hydrogen production will rise from its current 71 million tonnes to 160 million tonnes by 2030. Revenue generation within the market is expected to increase from USD177 billion in 2020 to USD420 billion in 2030.
The Indian government has said it intends to use hydrogen-based fuel technology to help combat pollution in response to criticism by the Supreme Court of India regarding the air pollution problems in New Delhi and whole northern India, the Solicitor General of India informed the court that the government is making progress, including exploring hydrogen-based technology being developed in Japan. Despite enormous potential and abundant RES and coal reserves, India still in its early stage in the adoption of hydrogen technology. Indian govt should first focus on the use of Fuel Cells as an alternative fuel in the government/ state-owned transports in India as it will be a climate-smart solution for heavy transport in India.
Written By Manoj Prasad, Executive Chairman, MP Morgan Capital (Views Are Personal)