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Hydrogen cars with zero emissions at the tailpipe, ready to spread widely

Hydrogen based technology in the electric transport sector is competing with traditional fuels like diesel and gasoline for long distances. It is quiet, needs reasonable time for refuelling and it releases water only.

Transport and Mobility

Transport is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions and a serious contributor to global warming. Road vehicles in particular are responsible for a large proportion of urban air pollution. One way to decarbonise mobility could be to replace fossil fuels with hydrogen. This is the most common substance in the universe, but it doesn’t exist naturally on earth; one can only find it in molecular forms such as water or organic compounds. It can be produced by extracting it from its compound, usually in a gaseous form, made of two atoms (H2). It is a high efficiency and low-polluting fuel, which only releases water and heat as by-products. It is also an energy carrier, which can store and deliver energy. Urban mobility based on hydrogen is gaining ground in Europe, especially in Denmark, the UK and the Baltic countries. The technology involved is called hydrogen electric. “Actually, the vehicles are electric, only the storage is in hydrogen, which is not burned but used in the fuel cell to create electricity for power,” explains Helmut Morsi, advisor to the Director, DG for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission. A hydrogen tank is able to store a large amount of energy, making it more suitable for bigger vehicles, like buses or trucks. “The heavier the vehicle is, the more efficient the hydrogen will be,” stressed Morsi. Hydrogen can be produced with the energy collected from renewables, by means of the electrolysers, and then converted back to electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen in the fuel cell. This way, large surplus amounts of electricity, harvested from sun and wind can be stored for long periods of time. It means a great opportunity for southern countries, like the Balkan region, which are rich in renewables. This technology is not employed there at the moment, and a significant part of the energy is lost as the grid is not able to absorb it all. Nevertheless, some local governments and mayors in Western Macedonia and Crete have expressed interest in pursuing this direction. The issue was recently discussed during the international Balkan Clean Energy Transition Conference held in Kozani, the leading energy producing area of Greece. The city, which is one of the ‘followers’ of STARDUST, a European project demonstrating new smart urban interventions, is analysing viable solutions to replace fossil fuels. “Hydrogen electric could be a business case well suited for countries like Greece,” asserts Athanasios Stubos, research director and head of Environmental Research Laboratory at the National Research Centre Demokritos in Athens. “There are Greek companies which are building part of this technology and they are doing quite well internationally. Furthermore, many in the scientific community have the expertise and the experience to work on hydrogen technology. It is an opportunity and we should grab it.” The country needs policies and infrastructure to support the introduction of these installations. “It is difficult to convince the banks to invest more in this technology because of the economic crisis. The funding has to be arranged with foreign investors,” Stubos adds. However, he seems optimistic about the determination of some local authorities in Greece to support it. Read the full article on:


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