Decarbonising Road Transport: A $160 billion role for hydrogen fuel cells

In News2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineOctober 13, 2021

The value of the on-road fuel cell vehicle market will grow to $160 billion in 2042, according to a new report from IDTechEx.

The report “Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles 2022-2042”, said the growth reflects a CAGR of 23.9% over the 20-year forecast period.

According to the research, the race to decarbonise on-road vehicles is undoubtedly being led by BEVs, however serious concern remains around whether BEV solutions can deliver the necessary duty cycle for those use cases that require significant range, brief downtime, and high operational flexibility. For example, long-haul trucking and high mileage city bus operations.

In such applications, a huge 500+ kWh battery will be required to reliably deliver 350+ km of range on a single charge, and full recharging, even with 350kW ultra-fast chargers, will take hours. This becomes an even greater challenge in a depot situation, where megawatts of power are required. Hyundai’s Xcient fuel cell heavy-duty truck delivers ~400km of range, with a 73kWh Li-ion battery and hydrogen fuel cell system, requiring less than 20 minutes to refuel.

The growing momentum pushing a rapid transition to zero-emission vehicles, combined with a genuine need for range comparable to diesel powertrains and quick refueling, means massive automotive players like Toyota, Hyundai, GM, and Daimler are continuing to pump millions into improving fuel cell system technology and bringing down costs.

Versus cars, the value proposition for fuel cell trucks and buses is stronger, and IDTechEx does not expect fuel cell cars to be a commercial success comparative to battery-electric ones.

Cheap grey hydrogen generated from fossil fuels makes little sense as a low emission transport fuel because the well-to-wheel emission footprint of a FCEV using grey H2 offers only a marginal CO2 saving versus modern diesel vehicles.