Wallis’ excellent paper attempts to show why cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells are not the immediate future of private motoring, and why batteries have an important and immediate part to play.
Note: (‘Nazi sharks etc.’ refers to a no doubt bad taste joke, made by James May during the recent BBC TV Top Gear show, the popular lads programme about cars: Jeremy Clarkson, of Top Gear has recently reviewed the Tesla electric / battery powered car in The Times On-Line)
The paper briefly examines the existing and possible future energy sources for vehicles, and tries to disentangle some of the commonly used definitions for proposed vehicles, and then examines the sustainable alternatives – and compatibilities – for road transport.
There are some very good examples of what current vehicles can do, and some calculations of the likely contribution need from nuclear or wind energy.
The paper concludes that electric mode vehicle use can shift transport in the UK away from oil towards sustainable low carbon solutions. It can be done quickly and inexpensively, with the technology we have right now and over a timescale of ten to twenty years. Moreover it does so by switching demand to a power source which does not sacrifice the comfort and real-world performance that we have come to expect from fossil fuel cars.
In the United States things look even better. Their proportional savings remain about the same as UK but they save upwards of 120 million tonnes of oil per year.
Looking up to and beyond the next couple of decades Wallis concludes that hydrogen is going to be a big part of the automotive future, one way or another – just not the immediate future, and none of us can afford to wait till then.