Saturday, December 20, 2008
The FCX Clarity from Honda
On this week's Top Gear, James May called the FCX Clarity "the most important car for 100 years".
[Photo courtesy of automobiles.honda.com.] It runs on hydrogen, which "will never run out", because it is "the most abundant element in the universe". And the only emissions are water.
The programme took the time to point out that the electricity to power a Tesla electric car in Britain is produced at a fossil fuel power station. Why didn't they also discuss where the hydrogen comes from?
Top Gear loves to quantify accelerations, lap times, car prices, top speeds - why couldn't they quantify the energy requirements to run "the car of the future", the FCX Clarity? And compare it with the Tesla?
Here's the answers, according to chapter 20 of Sustainable Energy - without the hot air.
The energy consumption of the FCX Clarity is 69 kWh per 100 km. (Very similar to the consumption of an ordinary fossil fuel car.) That's assuming the hydrogen is produced in the standard way, using lots of methane and a bit of electricity, and counting one unit of chemical energy as having the same energy content as one unit of electricity. Meanwhile, the energy consumption of the Tesla (according to its manufacturers) is 15 kWh per 100 km. (Of electrical energy.) Even if we penalize electricity, saying "every 1 kWh of electricity costs 2.5 kWh of fossil fuels", the Tesla is still much better than the fuel-cell car, and better than the average fossil fuel car. (And in the future, we won't be getting electricity from fossil fuels, hopefully!)
So the hydrogen car is NOT a "solution" to our problem, if our fundamental problem is an energy problem.