According to a hydrogen expert based in the UK, the idea of using green hydrogen to “green” up long distance trucking is absurd and “totally wrong.”
Many governments and prospective entrepreneurs have exaggerated the uses of green hydrogen, which is not seen as a viable option for usage in passenger vehicles. David Cebon, a Cambridge academic and co-founder of the Hydrogen Science Coalition, claims that even for long-haul haulage, it does not hold up.
The former Victorian claims that electrification is still a preferable alternative for heavy haulage for those prioritising where their electrons are best spent, especially for remote sites like Fitzroy Crossing, which is located 400 km east of Broome and 300 km west of Hall’s Creek. The Driven completely debunked the hydrogen in automobiles defence in January.
Cebon describes the difficulties he sees using green hydrogen for long-distance land transportation in his research for the InnovateUK Zero Emission Road Freight Demonstrator (ZERFD) trial. He refers to green hydrogen as “a scarce and precious resource” that should be reserved for industries like aviation or shipping that cannot be entirely electrified.
He discovered that the overall efficiency of green hydrogen produced through electrolysis, compressed and stored, and then used in a fuel cell to produce electricity to power a vehicle is 23%, as opposed to 69% for a pure battery vehicle, necessitating three times the amount of land for wind or solar farms to produce the same amount of energy.
According to his UK-based research, a 44 tonne truck can go up to 686 kilometres on a 1503 kWh battery. The problem is that long-haul trucking in Australia cannot use batteries of this size since B-Double trucks, which are now the workhorses of the industry, can travel an average of 800–1200 km without refuelling.
The Fortescue Metals Company is using a prototype of Australia’s largest heavy haulage vehicle battery, which has a capacity of 1,400 kWh, to power a 240-ton truck used on mine sites.
The battery is composed of eight sub-packs, each with 36 modules, each independently cooled, and each with its own management system. It weighs 15 tonnes, is 3.6 m long, 1.6 m broad, and 2.4 m high.
In contrast, the Volvo FH has a 540kWh battery and a 300km range. Even though it will only transport trucks halfway across Europe, these vehicles will still only be usable as runabouts between cities or at ports in a country the size of Australia.