Hydrogen-powered cars vs. electric cars: understanding everything
Green mobility is at the heart of current debates, and two technologies are attracting particular public attention: hydrogen-powered cars and electric cars. While both types of vehicle aim to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to the fight against climate change, there are significant differences between them. We at Stations-e would like to take a closer look at these differences in this article, to help you better understand their respective potential and limitations.
Electric cars generally have an advantage in terms of energy efficiency. The electricity used to recharge the batteries can come from renewable sources, which considerably reduces their carbon footprint. Hydrogen-powered cars, on the other hand, require a complex energy production process, including the conversion of hydrogen into electricity in a fuel cell, which results in significant energy losses. What’s more, compared with electric vehicles, hydrogen-powered cars will need more energy to cover the same distance, increasing their energy balance.
The rapid recharging time of hydrogen-powered vehicles makes them very convenient for long journeys. However, the ongoing development of batteries for electric vehicles is gradually improving their range, making them increasingly competitive in this field. As a result, fast-charging stations for electric vehicles are proliferating, offering 20-minute charge times to go from 20% to 80% battery charge*.
Electric cars benefit from an increasingly well-developed recharging infrastructure, with solutions adapted to different needs (fast charging, slow charging, etc.). On the other hand, the hydrogen refueling infrastructure is still limited and presents a challenge for the large-scale development of hydrogen-powered cars. This limited development is due in particular to the difficulty of storing and transporting hydrogen, which is highly volatile and flammable.
Electric cars tend to have a lower carbon footprint than hydrogen-powered cars, especially if the electricity comes from renewable sources. Large-scale hydrogen production is currently mainly based on fossil fuel processes, which limits their positive environmental impact. Hydrogen-powered vehicles also suffer from a heavy carbon footprint during manufacture. Indeed, these vehicles require the use of platinum, a very rare metal whose extraction is particularly polluting.
At present, electric cars are generally more affordable than hydrogen-powered cars. Indeed, battery technologies currently under development and mass production are helping to reduce the cost of electric cars. On the other hand, the high cost of producing, storing and distributing hydrogen makes hydrogen-powered cars more expensive. Moreover, hydrogen tanks require a lot of space, so hydrogen-powered cars can only be found in large models, which are generally more expensive than city cars, for example.
Both hydrogen-powered and electric cars play a crucial role in the transition to cleaner, more environmentally-friendly mobility. Each of these technologies presents its own specific advantages and challenges. Ultimately, electric cars have taken the lead in terms of energy efficiency, infrastructure development and cost reduction. Electric vehicle owners, at Stations-e we’re here to help you with your everyday recharging!
See you soon on the road.
– Durabilité des Voitures Électriques. (2023). Évaluation de la durée de vie des batteries, de l’empreinte carbone et de l’efficacité globale des voitures électriques.
– INTERNATIONAL ENERGY AGENCY. (2022). Global Hydrogen Review 2022.
– Andrew Lerma. (2021). Hydrogen Fuel Cell Efficiency: How Does it Compare to Lithium-Ion?
– Usai, L., Hung, C. R., Vásquez, F., Windsheimer, M., Burheim, O. S., & Strømman, A. H. (2021). Life cycle assessment of fuel cell systems for light duty vehicles, current state-of-the-art and future impacts. Journal of Cleaner Production, 280, 125086.