Road transport is estimated to contribute to approximately a fifth of the total European Union carbon dioxide emissions. At the moment, the emissions are 20% higher than they were in the 1990s, and this figure is still rising. This has increased concerns for climate change but also for better air quality in urban areas. Indeed (CO, NOx, SO2, fine particles, etc.) are directly harmful to health, not to mention problems arising from congestion (loss of time and money, accidents, noise pollution, etc.).
The fuel cell technology has several advantages over battery technology in this respect: longer range and quicker refueling time. But the manufacturing cost of producing H2-vehicles remains prohibitive. In a previous study of one of the author (see Creti et al., 2017) it was shown that though the time to market may be around 2040 to 2050 it is still worthwhile to launch the deployment early, say before 2020, due to the large learning-by-doing that can be reasonably expected from cumulated production.
In the present study Julien Brunet and Jean-Pierre Ponssard (CNRS and Ecole Polytechnique) drew the first lessons from the Normandy project known as the EasHyMob project, a significant pilot program in France. The Normandy hydrogen plan has been designed in terms of fuel cell electric vehicles to substitute a diesel Kangoo by an electric Kangoo ZE enhanced with a fuel cell range extender. This hybrid system delivers a vehicle with a range of 300km (instead of 120km with a battery) for a lower cost than a full hydrogen cell. The benefit of the fuel range extender is particularly focal for public fleets that cover long distances. The benefit over the diesel Kangoo is in terms of low carbon dioxide emissions as well as other indirect aspects of health awareness, low vibration and comfortable driving. The research work is published in International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.
The authors developed two scenarios: the first one is a direct extrapolation of the current plan while the second one corresponds to a much quicker deployment. The second scenario would possibly achieve economic sustainability in 2030 or even earlier if circumstances favor. The total cost of ownership of the hydrogen Kangoo would need to be reduced by about half along this path. Through an in-depth analysis of the value chain, the authors realized that two requirements would be essential to achieve this goal.
The first requirement assumes a certain level of learning by doing and spill overs in the manufacturing of the hydrogen Kangoo to permit about 40% drop of the purchase price of the Hydrogen Kangoo vehicle. This would only be consistent with a success of the fuel cell electric vehicle deployment in a geographic not only in Normandy but also throughout Europe and deployment across a wide range of hydrogen vehicles including buses, trucks and sedan. To realize this, high power vehicles will have an important role.
The second requirement concerns a close coordination between hydrogen production and its delivery through refilling stations to take advantage of the expected increased volume of hydrogen consumption and manage the progressive substitution of SMR by electrolysis. More specifically we evaluated the two optimal designs (associated with centralized production versus on site production) that should constitute the successive stages of the optimal path for infrastructure. A successful coordination strategy would allow for a 75% decrease of the hydrogen fuel cost.
This paper is part of a major research program on the energy transition for land transportation within the Energy and Prosperity Chair, founded in 2015. The aim of this Chair is to assess the sectoral and macroeconomic impact of such policies and to identify the institutional regulatory framework most favourable to their funding by the public and private sectors.
Brunet a, J.-P. Ponssard. Policies and deployment for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles an assessment of the Normandy project. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 42 (2017) 4276-4284.Go To International Journal of Hydrogen Energy
For a presentation of the the EasHyMob project see http://www.ehd2020.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Presentation-EAS-HyMob-16-July-2015.pdf.
Creti, A. Kotelnikova, G. Meunier and J.-P. Ponssard. Defining the Abatement Cost in Presence of Learningby-doing: Application to the Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle, Environmental and Resource Economics, forthcoming.
See the following links for details about the research program on the energy transition in land transportation http://www.louisbachelier.org/mobilite-transition-energetique/ and for general information on the Chair http://www.chair-energy-prosperity.org/en/