EPA issues RFP for advanced integrated modeling and assessment of GHGs and air pollutants
Proton Power reports successful trial of fuel cell range extender for Smith Electric Vehicles

Major study concludes achieving EU 2050 transport decarbonization goals will require portfolio of advanced powertrains; fuel cells, battery-electric and plug-in hybrids

The study focused on a portfolio of powertrains: BEVs, FCEVs, PHEVs and ICEs, taking into account significant advances in ICE technology between now and 2020. Click to enlarge.

Achieving the overall 80% decarbonization goal by 2050 set by the European Union and the G8 leaders in September 2009—which may require the 95% decarbonization of the road transport sector—will require a portfolio of advanced powertrains including battery-electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) and fuel-cell-electric (FCEV) vehicles, according to a detailed study by a consortium of 30 organizations, including major automotive OEMs, energy providers, oil and gas companies, and government and non-government organizations.

Over the next 40 years, the study found, no single powertrain satisfies all key criteria for economics, performance and the environment. The world is therefore likely to move from a single powertrain (ICE) to a portfolio of powertrains in which BEVs and FCEVs play a complementary role: BEVs are ideally suited to smaller cars and shorter trips; FCEVs to medium/larger cars and longer trips; with PHEVs an attractive solution for short trips or where sustainably produced biofuels are available.

The study—“A portfolio of powertrains for Europe: a fact-based analysis”—compares the economics, sustainability and performance of fuel cell, battery-electric, hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in achieving the decarbonization goal.

With the number of passenger cars set to rise to 273 million in Europe—and to 2.5 billion worldwide—by 2050, this may not be achievable through improvements to the traditional internal combustion engine or alternative fuels: the traditional combustion engine is expected to improve by 30%, so achieving full decarbonisation is not possible through efficiency alone. There is also uncertainty as to whether large amounts of (sustainably produced) biofuels—i.e. more than 50% of demand—will be available for passenger cars, given the potential demand for biofuels from other sectors, such as goods vehicles, aviation, marine, power and heavy industry. Combined with the increasing scarcity and cost of energy resources, it is therefore vital to develop a range of technologies that will ensure the long-term sustainability of mobility in Europe.

To this end, a group of companies, government organisations and an NGO—the majority with a specific interest in the potential (or the commercialisation) of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and hydrogen, but with a product range also spanning battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and conventional vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs) including hybridisation—undertook a study on passenger cars in order to assess alternative powertrains most likely to fulfil that need. Medium- or heavy-duty vehicles were not included.

—“A portfolio of powertrains for Europe”

Consortium members
Car manufacturers: BMW AG, Daimler AG, Ford, General Motors LLC, Honda R&D, Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Motors Corporation, Nissan, Renault, Toyota Motor Corporation, Volkswagen
Oil and gas: ENI Refining and Marketing, Galp Energia, OMV Refining and Marketing GmbH, Shell Downstream Services International B.V., Total Raffinage Marketing
Utilities: EnBW Baden-Wuerttemberg AG, Vattenfall
Industrial gas companies: Air Liquide, Air Products, The Linde Group
Industrial gas companies: Air Liquide, Air Products, The Linde Group
Equipment car manufacturers: Intelligent Energy Holdings plc, Powertech
Wind: Nordex
Electrolyzer companies: ELT Elektrolyse Technik, Hydrogenics, Hydrogen Technologies, Proton Energy Systems
Non-governmental organizations: European Climate Foundation
Governmental organizations: European Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, NOW GmbH

The consortium considered it particularly important to re-assess the role of FCEVs in the light of recent technological breakthroughs in fuel cell and electric systems that have now increased their efficiency and cost-competitiveness significantly.

To develop a factual evaluation of the economics, sustainability and performance of the range of powertrain alternatives across the entire, members of the consortium provided confidential and proprietary data on what they called an “unprecedented scale”— including vehicle costs, operating costs, fuel and infrastructure cost.

To ensure a realistic outcome, the study included a balanced mix of vehicle segments. The study also only considered vehicle technologies that are proven in R&D today and capable of a) scale-up and commercial deployment and b) meeting the EU’s CO2 reduction goal for 2050—i.e., there was no consideration of breakthrough technologies. Average values were taken, with no “cherry-picking” of the most favorable data.

The group then used a combined forecasting and backcasting approach to calculate the results: from 2010 to 2020, global cost and performance data were forecasted, based on proprietary industry data; after 2020, on projected learning rates. To test the sensitivity of these data to a broad range of market outcomes, the study defined three European “worlds” for 2050, assuming various powertrain penetrations:

  1. A world skewed towards ICE (5% FCEVs, 10% BEVs, 25% PHEVs, 60% ICEs)
  2. A world skewed towards electric powertrains (25% FCEVs, 35% BEVs, 35% PHEVs, 5% ICEs)
  3. A world skewed towards FCEVs (50% FCEVs, 25% BEVs, 20% PHEVs, 5% ICEs)

These three were then backcasted to 2010, resulting in a development pathway for each powertrain. The study found that the impact of the different “worlds” on FCEV costs was not significant; as a result, the report focuses on results for the second “world” as having a balanced split between the four powertrains (25% FCEVs, 35% BEVs, 35% PHEVs and 5% ICEs).

Among the major findings of the study are:

  • BEVs, PHEVs and FCEVs have the potential to significantly reduce CO2 and local emissions. Electric vehicles (BEVs, FCEVs and PHEVs in electric drive) can be fuelled by a wide variety of primary energy sources, thereby reducing oil dependency and enhancing security of energy supply. Well-to-wheel efficiency analysis also shows that electric vehicles are more energy-efficient than ICEs over a broader range of primary energy sources.

    Owing to limits in battery capacity and driving range (currently 100-200 km (62-124 miles) for a medium-sized car) and a current recharging time of several hours, BEVs are ideally suited to smaller cars and shorter trips, i.e. urban driving (including new transportation models such as car sharing).

    With a driving range and performance comparable to ICEs, FCEVs are the lowest- carbon solution for medium/larger cars and longer trips. These car segments account for 50% of all cars and 75% of CO2 emissions, hence replacing one ICE with one FCEV achieves a relatively high CO2 reduction.

    With a smaller battery capacity than BEVs, PHEVs have an electric driving range of 40-60 km (25-37 miles). Combined with the additional blending of biofuels, they could show emission reductions for longer trips.

    ICEs have the potential to reduce their CO2 footprint significantly through an average 30% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020 and the additional blending of biofuels. After 2020, however, further engine efficiency improvements are limited and relatively costly, while the amount of biofuels that will be available may be limited.

  • After 2025, the total cost of ownership (TCO) of all the powertrains converges. In the study, the economic comparison between powertrains is based on the total cost of ownership (TCO). BEVs and FCEVs are expected to have a higher purchase price than ICEs (battery and fuel cell related) and a lower fuel cost (due to greater efficiency and no use of oil) and a lower maintenance cost (fewer rotating parts).

    The cost of fuel cell systems is expected to decrease by 90% and component costs for BEVs by 80% by 2020, due to economies of scale and incremental improvements in technology. Around 30% of technology improvements in BEVs and PHEVs also apply to FCEVs and vice versa. This assumes that FCEVs and BEVs will be mass produced, with infrastructure a key prerequisite to be in place. The cost of hydrogen also reduces by 70% by 2025 due to higher utilization of the refuelling infrastructure and economies of scale.

    PHEVs are more economic than BEVs and FCEVs in the short term. The gap gradually closes and by 2030 PHEVs are cost-competitive with BEVs for smaller cars, with both BEVs and FCEVs for medium cars and less competitive than FCEVs for larger cars.

    While the fuel economy of ICEs is expected to improve by an average of 30% by 2020, costs also increase due to full hybridization and further measures such as the use of lighter weight materials.

    The TCOs of all four powertrains is expected to converge after 2025—or earlier, with tax exemptions and/or incentives during the ramp-up phase. For larger cars, the TCO of FCEVs is expected to be lower than PHEVs and BEVs as of 2030. By 2050, it is also (significantly) lower than the ICE. For medium-sized cars, the TCOs for all technologies converge by 2050. BEVs have a (small) TCO advantage over FCEVs in the smaller car segments.

  • A portfolio of powertrains can meet the needs of consumers and the environment. BEVs have a shorter range than FCEVs, PHEVs and ICEs: an average, medium-sized BEV with maximum battery loading cannot drive far beyond 150 km (93 miles) at 120 km/h (75 mph) on the highway, if real driving conditions are assumed (and taking expected improvements until 2020 into account).

    Charging times are also significantly longer: 6-8 hours using normal charging equipment. Fast charging may become widespread, but the impact on battery performance degradation over time and power grid stability is unclear. Moreover, it takes 15-30 minutes to (partially) recharge the battery. Battery swapping reduces refuelling time; it is expected to be feasible if used once every two months or less and battery standards are adopted by a majority of car manufacturers. BEVs are therefore ideally suited to smaller cars and urban driving, potentially achieving ~80% CO2 reduction by 2030 compared to today.

    FCEVs have a driving performance (similar acceleration), range (around 600 km/373 miles) and refuelling time (< 5 minutes) comparable to ICEs. They are therefore a feasible low-carbon substitute for ICEs for medium/larger cars and longer trips, potentially achieving 80% CO2 reduction by 2030 compared to today.

    PHEVs have a similar range and performance to ICEs, but electric driving only applies to shorter distances, while the amount of biofuels available for longer trips is uncertain. They represent an attractive solution, reducing CO2 considerably compared to ICEs.

  • Costs for a hydrogen infrastructure are approximately 5% of the overall cost of FCEVs (€1,000-2,000/US$1,365-2,730 per car). For consumers who prefer larger cars and drive longer distances, FCEVs have clear benefits in a CO2-constrained world. This segment represents around 50% of cars driven and can therefore justify a dedicated hydrogen infrastructure.

    The value of the FCEV over alternative powertrains in terms of TCO and emissions (including the cost of the hydrogen infrastructure) is positive beyond 2030. The economic gap prior to 2030 is almost completely determined by the higher purchase price, not by the cost of the hydrogen infrastructure. The study concludes that if this consumer segment prefers the FCEV, the cost of the infrastructure (5% of the TCO) will not be prohibitive to its roll-out. However, it notes, an orchestrated investment plan is required to build up the first critical mass of hydrogen supply.

  • The deployment of FCEVs will incur a cost to society in the early years. The benefits of lower CO2 emissions, lower local emissions (NO2, particles), diversification of primary energy sources and the transition to renewable energy all come at an initial cost. These will ultimately marginalize with the reduction in battery and fuel cell costs, economies of scale and potentially increasing costs for fossil fuels and ICE specifications.

    A roll-out scenario that assumes 100,000 FCEVs in 2015, 1 million in 2020 and a 25% share of the total EU passenger car market in 2050 results in a cumulative economic gap of approximately €25 billion (US$34 billion) by 2020—mainly due to the cost of the fuel cell system in the next decade, but also including around €3 billion for a hydrogen supply infrastructure. The CO2 abatement cost is expected to range between €150 (US$205) and €200 (US$273) per tonne in 2030 and becomes negative for larger cars after 2030.

    A hydrogen supply infrastructure for around 1 million FCEVs by 2020 requires an investment of €3 billion (US$4.1 billion) (production, distribution, retail), of which €1 billion (US$1.4 billion) relates to retail infrastructure—concentrated in high-density areas (large cities, highways) and building on existing infrastructure.

    The emerging FCEV market (2010-20) requires close value chain synchronization and external stimulus in order to overcome the first-mover risk of building hydrogen retail infrastructure. While the initial investment is relatively low, the risk is high and therefore greatly reduced if many companies invest, co-ordinated by governments and supported by dedicated legislation and funding. With the market established, subsequent investment (2020-30) will present a significantly reduced risk and by 2030 any potentially remaining economic gap is expected to be directly passed on to the consumer.

The study also details next steps, noting that investment cycles in energy infrastructure are long and suggesting that BEV and FCEV infrastructure and scale-up should be initiated as soon as possible in order to develop these technologies as material transportation options beyond 2020. In the short term, it concludes, CO2 emissions will therefore have to be reduced by more efficient ICEs and PHEVs—combined with biofuels—while taking two concrete actions.

The first is to develop a comprehensive and co-ordinated EU market launch plan study for the deployment of FCEVs and hydrogen infrastructure in Europe. The second is to take a similar action to support the roll-out of BEVs and PHEVs in the EU.



Henry Gibson

The fastest route to decabonization is to use carbon and other energy sources to produce ammonia at high energy efficiencies. Then convert automobiles to work on ammonia liquid.

Europe had the ZEBRA battery for decades but mostly ignored it, so that it did not reach cheap mass production quantities.

Hydraulic hybrids as in Artemis are being ignored especially by Bosch who owns the highly efficient technology. NOAX does nothing with theirs when half the gasoline or diesel could be saved.

The governments must mandate the use of energy efficient technologies as they mandated seatbelts and insulation. Governments should not mandate vague ideas like reducing carbon. Not a new commercial building should be built anywhere in Europe without Capstone turbines in CHP units or their equivalent anywhere that natural gas is available and in some places where it is not.

Germany and Denmark and Holland and especially France should order quick build CANDU nuclear power plants to eliminate carbon where it is most effectively eliminated and the coal can be used to make automotive fuels instead.

Very high performance magnets make very high speed high energy density engine generators available for highly efficient range extenders in electric cars. Very small units are available and no electric car should be allowed on the road without one to eliminate the concept of limited range and range anxiety and to reduce substantially the cost of batteries. Modern flywheel KERS systems can also reduce the cost of batteries because they will not need to be made to produce high power. The TESLA should go the way of the HUMMER, when energy efficiency is being considered and low cost necessary, high speeds and high acceleration cannot be provided. Most nations are complaining about carbon release but will not reduce speeed limits on motorways. Speed reduction is the fastest way to reduce carbon from automobiles. EDF and practically only EDF has reduced the emissions of carbon in europe.

Stan Peterson

More Pablum. I presume the taxpayers paid for this useless guff.

Gee Whiz. The ICE won't always be the only source of transportation power. It never has been, Dolts. This is news?

Tommorrow, we will have a mixture. Hey welcome to reality. I geuse you looked out the window of your ivory covered tower and saw what the world was like.

But then it turns truly irrational. The mixture will consist of BEVs and FCEVs? What utter drivel.

We already know what we will have. A mixture of electrified rail, motor cars powered by various combinations of clean ICEs and Batteries. This will gradually become a mixture of perfectly clean ICEs and BEVs, with almost no CARBite desires for pet project FCEVs. These FCEVs have lost the technological and cost benefit races, so like other technologies in similar conditions, they will remain laboratory curiosities, only. It is the way the world works.

Tomorrow's land transport will be electrified rail, clean hybrid rail locomotives, clean diesel based trucks, and for automobiles some combination of BEVs, HEVs, EREVs, PHEVs and clean ICEs. Electricity will increasingly be generated from non fossil chemical means; from falling water, nuclear fission and increasing shares from Fusion, as the century goes on.

The present urge to waste money building very inefficient Solar PV, will cease. Resorting to claiming energy from the Wind will disappear into history, much like the fabled Dutch windmills of yore. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza will have to look far and wide to find any.


Dear Stan,

How dare you say there will be no windmills to tilt at in the future?? You, sir, have not an ounce of the romantic in you! Had I not known better I would call you a damned... engineer!!

"The cost of fuel cell systems is expected to decrease by 90% and component costs for BEVs by 80% by 2020, due to economies of scale and incremental improvements in technology."

Rather bold prediction considering it gives the industry 9 years to achieve these reductions. But possible if the scale is large enough.

I'd call this an oil & gas skewed report that neglects the best place for FCs... NOT in cars, but in home and small business CHP systems - like Henry Gibson suggests. Two ways to go... Capstone micro-turbines and Bloom Box-type FCs. This concept - DISTRIBUTED ENERGY - is the oil and gas company's next source of revenue. First from NG and later, from H2.

I would be thrilled to see someone initiate a small residence CHP project simply to demonstrate the viability of the concept. It is being done on a large scale at the B of A building in New York City.

We need to see a small community installed with residential and business CHP - allowing people to heat, cool and generate their own power from domestic natural gas.

Nick Lyons

The assumptions here seem a bit questionable to me, e.g.:

The cost of hydrogen also reduces by 70% by 2025 due to higher utilization of the refuelling infrastructure and economies of scale.

I looked at the study, and their model shows H2 production going from methane steam reforming (now) to electrolysis, centralized or distributed. Considering the losses involved in first creating electricity, then extracting H2 from water, I just don't see how the cost goes down, economies of scale or no.


PHEVs should be enough.
Run them on CNG if you like.
Else diesel + some degree of hybridisation.

For longer runs, use trucks with diesel and/or CNG.
It may be possible to improve combustion with a little H2, but that may be untrue (can anyone confirm that).
BEVs could be OK for city vehicles.
CNG for city buses to reduce pollution.
Electrify most rail.

It is all in place.
No need to do the fuel cell thing for now.
Besides, most H2 is made from natural gas, so you may as well burn the natural gas directly.


I see you dont have a freaking clue.

The cost of h2 currently is MOSTLY the cost of the device making the h2 and the cost of the things needed to get it to you. Actualy making it is cheap.

Thus as we wind up this bugger and the gizmos that make h2 get cheaper and make more of it per gizmo the cost plummets. AND as the cost of moving h2 drops AGAIN the cost plummets.

Right now h2 is alot like oil was waaaay back when it was put in actual wooden barrels and carted around by handtruck. But thats rapidly changing.

As for the fuelcell itself.. much like how early lith ion batteries went from expensive little button batteries to what we have now fuel cells will move from these silly things to real actual useful tools sold by the million. They arnt some mystical meddalion of wonder they are a simple device simpler in fact then an ice engine and no more immune to the wonders of mass production and cost reduction everthing else we have ever made was subject to.

And as they clearly state and we all already know alot of cars will be of the size and type best suited for fuel cells or bio fuel.. and we CLEARLY dont have enough biofuel to power em all nor would we want to.

There will be a bev market there will be a fuel cell market and both are more then big enough to warrent the attention they need.


Henry Gibson:

Were you also involved in mandating the Trabant?


Heaven forbid they're talking fuel cells and hydrogen.


"I presume the taxpayers paid for this useless guff."

As usual stan wades in to outline his future fantasy without bothering to read the article or checking out the reference.



- Should future innovations be planned to favor the majority or should it be left to the most greedy with $$$ to decide based on what is most profitable for them?

- Should the silent majority decide what it wants for future cleaner more efficient vehicles or again should it be left to a greedy few to decide?

- Should future possible alternatives be revealed in plain words and let the majority decide by voting for or against it or are we to stupid and/or immature to do that?

- If the majority is not yet capable of making a good choice, should an appointed board composed of well informed well educated capable persons do it for us?

- Shall we continue to have the greedy and their (paid) politician friends decide for us?

Do we really know what we want?


Harvey we are working on all these options because we need them all. Alot of money is going into h2 because it also happens to benfit alot of industries that already depend on h2 right this second and will need h2 from other sources when natural gas starts to run out.


"The cost of h2 currently is MOSTLY the cost of the device making the h2 and the cost of the things needed to get it to you. Actualy making it is cheap.
H2 made from natural gas is not dependent on any fancy equipment or economies of scale. It doesn't require any special investment like an oil refinery does today and that price for H2 will not change much. It is what it is and the major cost is the natural gas feeding into the process.

Perhaps you're talking about a home version so we can skip the distribution and storage issues???

H2 made from electrolysis is very wasteful and not cheap. You still have to produce it from the electricity which yields yet another conversion= wasted energy/efficiency/money.

I think fuel cells could have a great future for making electricity at home if they can run off natural gas or some bio derived input. Fuel cells can be more efficient than a microturbine even with CHP and recuperation thrown in for small, home type devices.

But I don't see an H2 infrastructure or economy ever materializing. It's just too much loss to get the H2 except in special situations where the H2 is already an output of some other process in an industrial setting.


With nat gas derived h2 the main cost right now is trucking it to a filling station and the equipment needed to handle it at that end. Plus of course the high cost of nat gas doesnt help any. A good example.. before they started working on it trucking h2 cost between 4 and 12 bucks a kilo. Piping it around cost 2 bucks a kilo.

Those numbers are dropping.

And we cant count on natural gas supplies lasting all that long specialy after oil starts to go pthththt.


"when combined with EIA’s latest estimate of proved natural gas reserves, the Potential Gas Committee’s report said total available future supply is 2,074 Tcf, equaling about 100 years of supply at current rates of consumption. (Americans consume an average 22 Tcf/year.)"


So if they turn NG into H2 at the filling station, they eliminate the storage and transportation.

Nick Lyons

In USA, where natural gas is abundant (assuming shale gas extraction doesn't poison our aquifers), steam reforming of methane is going to be the H2 production cost winner for a long time. Which raises the obvious question: why not just use the CH4 as is? CHP at home or at the neighborhood level, LNG for semi trucks, CNG for autos. I really don't see a reason to develop an H2 infrastructure.


I am weary of this expectation that the cost of everything will go down because of the "economy of scale".

Some form of energy is required to be transformed into H2, just like for gasoline.

You don't see gas prices going down as gas usage increases.


There are really not many economies of scale. That refers to marginal cost where the next unit of production is cheaper because of shared cost for fixed resources. A larger plant does that for obvious reasons, but in this case it is not the major factor.

H2 is promoted because it talks about fuel cells. If I lose half my energy creating H2 and compressing it, I get some back because fuel cells are more efficient than internal combustion. We know that with EREV and other methods we start to approach fuel cell efficiency at a lower cost. What is left is no combustion pollution, which can be a good thing.


Geez, you guys all talk like today's technology is the end of the line. Here's a rather simple idea: crack the strong bond in water.

Does anyone really think this cannot be done someday?


Physics says that it takes energy to do that. It can be electricity, thermal, chemical or other forms, but it still takes energy. They are finding ways that takes less energy over time, but no super break through is anticipated.


I'm afraid thermodynamics means you have to play the game, you can't win and you can't break even.

Advanced ICE's are already close to 40% (diesel ~42% and atkinson cycle ~37%)

The cost per kWh of hydrogen will always be more than a kWh of natural gas

Fuel cell good, hydrogen bad

60 miles per kg H2 in the Clarity is around 60mpge. That based on the energy in the hydrogen, not primary energy which could be twice as much


The best way of using water as an energy 'source' is to pump it uphill


I could see a CNG PHEV/EREV, you get the most out of the fuel and the range may not be bad with adsorbents allowing a smaller tank at lower pressure. Until they get fuel cell car's cost down and longevity up, this could be a good alternative.


I understand what you're saying about the cost of the distribution and storage infrastructure coming down. But I think that Nick, 3PeaceSweet and others have nailed it. I just don't see how to get a better net return on the process by converting CH4 to H2 rather than using the CH4.

There is already an infrastructure in place for CH4 all over the country and that can be expanded more easily than creating an H2 infrastructure from scratch... and the conversion is an extra step that just can't avoid the laws of physics.

Fuel cells will play an important role in our future, IMO, but I think it will be with CH4 rather than H2 as the fuel source.


Becuase nobody is dreaming of natural gas. They are dreaming of batteries and fuel cells.. the jetsons in real life.

Also because a ch4 burning suv still wont meet future fleet co2 limits... and battery suvs are a tad HEAVY and limited.

And because they have no real idea how much ch4 we will have in 2050.

And because its a WHOLE lot easier to say no co2 then it is to explain the mmerits of ch4..

And because oddly enough neither the sellers of ch4 nor the governments involved realy want it.

And because in the end they have put thier money on fuel cells and batteries outperforming other options.


Half of the electricity in the U.S. to electrolyze water comes from coal fired power plants, that is not NO CO2. If the coal fired power plants at 40% efficiency charge an EV that is one thing. But if they run an electrolyzer at 60% efficiency take another 10% to compress and put it through a 40% efficient fuel cell, then you are down to about 12% of the original coal energy going to the controller.

The comments to this entry are closed.