NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

HYDROGEN FUEL CELLS MAY NOT BE THE END-ALL BE-ALL

April 21, 2005

In order to fulfill its mandates under the Kyoto Treaty, Canada is banking on the development of hydrogen fuel cells for use in cars. But hydrogen-powered vehicles may not be the cure-all, says the Western Standard.

Many experts are questioning the effectiveness of hydrogen fuel cells and whether they are worth the cost.

  • In January, Popular Science magazine reported that hydrogen fuel cell cars could actually increase carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • David Keith (University of Calgary) argues that there are better and cheaper ways to improve air quality, such as regular inspections and pollution controls on under-performing vehicles.
  • Keith also notes that large-scale biomass ethanol or synthetic fuels made from coal are much cheaper and can be delivered more quickly than hydrogen.

Indeed, even the U.S. Department of Energy estimates it will take 20 to 40 years before fuel cell vehicles are mass marketed.

Furthermore, Canada must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to six percent below 1990 levels by 2012, so there is little time for them to rely on technology which is 20 years away.

Source: Terry O'Neill, "Fuel's Gold?" Western Standard, February 28, 2005.

 

Browse more articles on Environment Issues