It is generally agreed that the universally desired reduction in CO2 emissions would only be achieved if the electricity for charging the battery and producing the hydrogen come from renewable sources. But likeweise, the origin of the raw materials should be taken into account. Prof. Dr. Angelika Heinzel from the Centre for Fuel Cell Technology in Duisburg and also co-author of the VDI/VDE study, says: "It plays an important role how the raw materials are extracted and how the batteries and fuel cells are produced. Careful analyses of energy consumption and CO2 emissions over the entire life cycle and an increase in the recycling rate are also indispensable. Both technologies require raw materials that are not available indefinitely".
In addition to the energetic efficiency of the powertrain and the raw material requirements of the battery and fuel cell, Heinzel also specifically investigated the consumption of resources and land for the required infrastructure - such as power lines and charging stations, gas pipelines and hydrogen filling stations. "Both technologies will be introduced in future in segments of the mobility sector: Fuel cell vehicles will initially be used in fleet vehicles and long-range vehicles. In contrast to battery production, the fuel cell still has to overcome the hurdle to mass production," Heinzel said. This could open up a great opportunity for German manufacturers.
The authors of the study jointly demand that the Federal Government should create incentive systems and establish infrastructures for fuel cell and battery vehicles as quickly as possible. "These include the expansion of the hydrogen infrastructure and the inclusion of hydrogen as an energy carrier in the cross-sector long-term strategy for a secure energy supply.