Is hydrogen the answer to EV grid overload?


Electric vehicles are widely seen as crucial to slashing emissions and air pollution from road transport.

But there are concerns that electrifying the cars on our roads will put greater pressure on the UK's power grid.

In the UK alone, the government's transport aspirations suggest there will be 34 million electric cars on the road by 2040, which National Grid forecasts will require about 60TWh of electricity per year for charging needs. 

However, UK fuel cell specialist AFC Energy believes it has a solution. It has developed a semi-portable EV charging system that is fuelled entirely by hydrogen, so it doesn't require a grid connection or external power source to charge up battery cars.

But there is one snag: the fuel cell system is powered by hydrogen, and the UK does not yet have the infrastructure nor market to affordably produce this fuel from renewable energy, the only method with zero greenhouse gas emissions.

However, the Committee on Climate Change has said developing a hydrogen economy in the UK may be crucial to meeting climate targets. So could there be a market for off-grid, hydrogen fuel cell EV charging systems in the near future?

AFC Energy certainly thinks so. It claims it could in future cost about the same for an EV driver to charge up using its hydrogen fuel cell system as it would to use a normal, grid-connected public EV charge point.

And just last week, the company signed a partnership agreement with Rolec, one of Europe's largest EV charging developer, for the design and distribution of the off-grid EV charging system. The two companies said the agreement marked the beginning of a "long-term relationship" to further demonstrate the capability of the system.

To find out more, BusinessGreen went to visit AFC Energy and take a closer look at the technology in action

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