Hydrogen makes no sense at all

“Hydrogen is definitely a race,” auto journalist Werner Budding said in an interview with IEX. Automotive technology professor Martin Steinbuch, with whom he also spoke, agrees completely: “Hydrogen for passenger cars makes absolutely no sense.”

“To produce hydrogen, you need three times the amount of electricity you need at the end. The business case is simply not good,” says Steinbuch, a professor at Eindhoven University of Technology. As a scientist, he immerses himself in automotive engineering, among other things, with a focus on sustainable driving.

Hydrogen is not an energy source because it must be produced. It should be seen as energy storage like a battery. That is why, according to Steinbuch, heavy industries benefit from hydrogen. This allows meeting seasonal energy demand from, for example, blast furnaces and fertilizer plants.

Synthetic Kerosene

However, batteries are not the answer to everything. “Batteries aren’t suitable for transcontinental air traffic, but hydrogen isn’t the answer either, because it’s too bulky.”

So-called solar fuels are the solution for this sector. Hydrogen is produced sustainably and carbon dioxide is removed from the air to create kerosene that planes can fly on. “This is the solution for container shipping and long trips. For road transport, a battery-powered electric motor is the answer.”


Werner Budding, automotive journalist and co-founder of the e-drivers.com platform, has over thirteen years of experience as a different automotive software provider. He remains somewhat skeptical about electric propulsion in the transportation sector. “It’s not ideal right now. The trucks have to be packed with batteries for some range, and the problem is that these batteries are very heavy,” he says.

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“The economic model for cargo traffic is to carry as much load as possible, but that is limited by those heavy batteries,” Budding continues. “Then the truck is very expensive, it doesn’t go a long way and you can’t take that much with you. So it’s not a good revenue model yet.” Regulations and further development of batteries could provide a solution to this problem in the future.

Investing in hydrogen

Like Budding, not everyone is as assertive as Steinbuch about the future of hydrogen. For example, Shell is not only investing large sums in battery-electric driving, but also in hydrogen technology. The energy giant has installed hydrogen storage tanks in sunny California and in the less sunny UK. In addition, Shell has a hydrogen filling point at three Dutch filling stations and will build a green hydrogen plant in Rotterdam.

“Many companies in the energy and transportation sector have hydrogen-related projects in the pipeline, but these are not enough for the rest of the businesses to talk about ‘pure play’ investment,” raw materials expert Koen Lauwers recently wrote in his column.Investing in hydrogen

The full interview with Steinbuch and Budding I read here† In this they refer, among other things, to which car brands they see as more futuristic.

Read more: TA: 3 Opportunities in Hydrogen

Coen Grooters is the IEX editor. The information in this column is not intended as professional investment advice or as a recommendation to make certain investments. click here For an overview of IEX editors’ investments.

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Megan Vasquez

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