Experts call for intensified development of fuel cells

June 10, 2019 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Two important voices from the world of technology in Germany have criticized what they consider to be the one-sided orientation of developments in electric mobility: In a joint study, the German Association of Engineers (VDI) and the German Association of Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (VDE) call for the research and development of fuel cell vehicles as well as the development of battery-powered vehicles to be stepped up.

From the point of view of the VDI and VDE, the current discussion focuses too much on battery-powered vehicles. This technology alone would not suffice to achieve the energy and environmental policy goals of the Federal Government. The VDI/VDE study "Fuel cell and battery vehicles" shows that fuel cell-based electromobility is not only an important step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but is also much easier to implement.

"Fuel cell vehicles are a necessary element for the e-mobility of tomorrow. The fuel hydrogen can be flexibly produced, stored and transported from renewable energies," says Martin Pokojski, Chairman of the VDI/VDE Technical Committee "Hydrogen and Fuel Cells". He is co-author of the study, which evaluates the two technologies according to relevant technical, ecological and economic aspects. Instead of promoting only one technology, politics and industry should focus on both systems, according to the study's findings. 

Fuel cell vehicles (FCEV) have several advantages over battery-powered vehicles (BEV): They achieve long ranges much more easily and cost-effectively, their refuelling times are comparable to today's standard for petrol or diesel, and they enable much higher payloads. "Another advantage of hydrogen technology is its easier implementation, since existing structures can be used and existing filling stations can be expanded accordingly," explains Dr. Andreas Schamel, co-author of the VDI/VDE study. Schamel continues: "The infrastructure investments for BEV are lower than for FCEV with a low market penetration. But the picture turns with greater market penetration. Therefore, a mixture of both systems - BEV for shorter distances and FCEV for long distances - could result in a cost optimum."

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