By - King Stubb & Kasiva on October 25, 2023
The 2021 report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a cautionary message to the global community regarding the state of the climate. The current state of change has reached a critical level, classified as a 'Code Red' emergency, necessitating prompt and profound measures to be taken to prevent irreversible consequences. Despite the inherent complexities within the political economy of fossil fuels, it is evident that renewable energy and green technology have unequivocal options for mitigating global emissions.
Given the widespread adoption of a particular technology within a sector, it is evident that addressing the magnitude of the climate change issue would necessitate the utilisation of numerous technologies in tandem. In the realm of transportation, it is commonly believed that battery-powered electric vehicles (BPEVs) represent the sole category of electric vehicles (EVs). However, it is important to acknowledge the existence of an alternative technology known as hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), which compete with BPEVs. In the following paragraphs, we will understand the comparison.
BPEVs depend on the utilisation of rechargeable batteries, with lithium-ion batteries being the most prevalent choice. These batteries are designed to store electrical energy, which is subsequently utilised to propel the vehicle by powering an electric motor. The range of an electric car is contingent upon the capacity of its battery, which can vary between approximately 100 and over 300 miles each charge. However, this range may vary based on specific car models and the prevailing level of battery technology.
On the other hand, FCEVs derive their electricity from hydrogen fuel cells. The storage of hydrogen gas occurs within a tank located in the vehicle, from which it is then supplied to a fuel cell. In this context, the substance undergoes a chemical reaction with atmospheric oxygen, resulting in the generation of electrical energy. The electricity generated is utilised to operate the electric motor of the vehicle. FCEVs often have a greater driving range than BPEVs, with a typical range of 300 to 400 miles achievable on a single hydrogen tank.
The contrast between these two categories of electric vehicles is evident in their refuelling or recharging process. BPEVs necessitate a connection to an electrical outlet or a designated charging station in order to restore the energy levels of their batteries. The duration of charging can exhibit substantial variation, wherein the utilisation of fast chargers can reduce the time necessary, however, it still typically takes longer compared to the refuelling process of conventional petrol or diesel vehicles.
In contrast, FCEVs are refuelled with compressed hydrogen gas at dedicated hydrogen refuelling stations. The time required for refuelling an FCEV is comparable to that of refuelling a normal internal combustion engine car, hence enhancing the convenience of FCEVs.
Another significant distinction lies in the infrastructure that is accessible for these cars. BPEVs get advantages from a well-developed and comprehensive charging infrastructure, which encompasses charging stations strategically located in urban areas and along major routes. Additionally, home charging is a feasible alternative for the majority of BPEV owners. On the other hand, it is important to note that the hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for FCEVs has a comparatively lower level of development and is mainly concentrated in select regions and urban centres. Consequently, this limited availability may result in reduced convenience for FCEV users residing in specific geographical locations.
Both BPEVs and FCEVs are known for their notable energy efficiency and complete lack of tailpipe emissions, making them pivotal in greenhouse gas emissions within the transportation industry. Nevertheless, it is crucial to take into account the comprehensive environmental impact, which is contingent upon variables such as the origin of energy employed for charging BPEVs and the techniques employed for the production and transportation of hydrogen for FCEVs.
Finally, it is important to consider the cost differences between the two aforementioned vehicle categories. BPEVs generally exhibit a comparatively lower initial cost, primarily attributable to the reduced expense of batteries. However, owners must take into account the potential expenditure associated with battery replacement during the vehicle's lifespan. FCEVs tend to exhibit higher costs as a result of the intricate nature of fuel cell technology and the challenges associated with hydrogen storage. However, the reduction in operational expenses is contingent upon other factors, including the cost and accessibility of hydrogen fuel.
Ultimately, the selection between BPEVs and FCEVs depends on individual preferences, the accessibility of infrastructure, driving habits, and environmental factors. Both technologies play a crucial role in the worldwide endeavour to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and advance sustainable transportation.
The expanding charging infrastructure for vehicles in India, especially in metropolitan areas, has an impact on the viability of BPEVs. BPEVs are a practical choice for everyday commuting and short- to medium-distance trips because of the developing network of charging stations. Given that the range restrictions are less of a problem for regular urban use, many urban Indians find BPEVs ideal for their driving habits. The environmental effect of BPEVs is greatly influenced by the electricity source, and India's move towards renewable energy sources is essential to their sustainability.
Contrarily, FCEVs have the benefit of a greater range, which makes them a possible alternative for long-distance travel and applications needing an extended range without regular refuelling. The lack of a sufficient infrastructure for refuelling with hydrogen, however, limits the viability of FCEVs in India. Hydrogen refuelling stations are restricted to particular areas and cities, and the market lacks a variety of FCEV models.
Government regulations, financial aid programmes, and incentives all have a big impact on determining the practicality of both BPEVs and FCEVs. India has been making efforts to promote both technologies for use in electric cars, impacting the availability and pricing of these vehicles through government efforts and subsidies.
Another important issue is the cost. owing to the lower initial cost of batteries, BPEVs were often less expensive than FCEVs, owing to the complexity of fuel cell technology and hydrogen storage. The cost-effectiveness of any technology, however, can be impacted by operating costs, such as variations in the price of energy and hydrogen.
Given the current situation in India regarding BPEVs and FCEVs, it can be inferred that the immediate needs of the people can be effectively addressed by adopting BPEVs. However, recognising the long-term viability of FCEVs, the Indian government has intensified efforts to promote their usage in the future. The government's favorable stance towards this development is a reassuring step forward.