In the previous blog post, I have exposed my disdain for the hype surrounding mass production of something as ordinary as lithium-ion batteries. Electric power has been used for a very long time – one comparable to that of the combustion engines. It works but whether it should replace the combustion engines or fossil-fuel-driven power plants should be left to the free markets and those shouldn’t be distorted by subsidies.
The same thing holds for the hydrogen fuel cells. They are actually an old paradigm, too. In fact, they were first proposed in 1838. However, until recently, the technological hurdles have been huge and that’s why hydrogen fuel cells still sound as science-fiction of a sort. For many years, you could have driven hydrogen-fueled hybrid buses produced in Pilsen but you didn’t expect to buy a hydrogen fuel car yourself.
That will change in two months. Toyota has been producing Prius for many years. It’s the ultimate car for the green hypocrites and the brainwashed people who want to send a green message. Even in 2014, Prius remained the world’s #1 bestselling electric car.
Next month, in June, Toyota will stop making the current generation of Prius plug-in hybrids. They will prepare a new generation so be sure that the company won’t leave this business altogether.
But there is a product which is potentially much more exciting: Toyota Mirai. In Japan, it’s been selling for $57,400 or so for 5 months. That’s slightly cheaper than the cheapest version of Tesla Model S. The Japanese government plans to subsidize each buyer of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle by $20,000 or so. In mid 2015, Mirai will start to be sold in California. In September 2015, Germany, U.K., and Denmark will be added to the mix, before other countries join in 2017.
At this moment, it is not about mass production at all. Toyota has capped production of Mirai at 3,000 copies a year. When all expenses are counted, the company is subsidizing these first hydrogen cars – perhaps by as much as $100,000 a piece.
Canada’s CBC talks about Ballard, a Canadian firm, that is selling hydrogen fuel cell emergency power systems. It has some costumers that find the product economically useful. Elon Musk called the whole hydrogen fuel industry bullšit, and that’s why the researchers working on it have filmed the video embedded at the top. They showed he is right: they can literally power their car with bullšit, namely hydrogen extracted from huge piles of cow manure.
The hydrogen fuel cells and lithium ions are comparably economical. The hydrogen path is probably a little bit worse economically. But I do think it’s sensible to think that this difference arises because much less effort and money has been invested to making the hydrogen fuel go mainstream.
Currently, most hydrogen fuel is produced from natural gas. I don’t see anything wrong about it: hydrogen is a nice new way to store the energy. The methods to produce hydrogen may change in the future, or not, but whatever the trend will be, hydrogen may still be viewed as a competitor of batteries. Toyota Mirai has an electric motor inside, after all. If electricity becomes abundant (fusion…), one could always create hydrogen fuel by electrolysis of water. It does seem sensible to think that this is what stationary batteries of the future will do.
A little bit like in the case of fusion (but it’s not fusion LOL!), hydrogen as a fuel seems to be the ultimate holy grail of clarity. You store hydrogen, get some oxygen from the air, and you merge these atoms to produce the dihydrogen monoxide which is not too toxic. As long as people avoid the hysteria about the dihydrogen monoxide’s efforts to destroy the whole planet, everyone must agree that what goes from the pipeline is the cleanest possible compound you can get.
The greentards who are worried should better remind themselves what dihydrogen monoxide looks like 😉 before they sign another petition to ban it.