Fuel cells for long haul, batteries for cities

TCO for 40-metric-ton long-range vehicles based on various studies
TCO for 40-metric-ton long-range vehicles based on various studies, © VDE/VDI study

According to European Union guidelines, carbon dioxide emissions from heavy-duty vehicles will need to be cut by 30 percent by the year 2030 in order to ensure emissions reductions are on track to meet the EU’s 2050 net-zero target. This would mean that around 200,000 emission-free trucks would have to be operating on Europe’s roads by 2030. That’s the finding of a recent study carried out by the association of German engineers VDI and the testing and certification institute VDE entitled “Sustainable commercial vehicles – a comparison of different technology pathways for carbon-neutral and carbon-free propulsion.” It found marked advantages for the use of fuel cell power systems for long-distance transportation using large commercial vehicles while battery-electric powertrains were seen as clearly beneficial for small commercial vehicles.

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Small on-site energy generation is on the up

Prototype of the mini wind turbine developed by Fraunhofer IAP, BTU and EAB, © Fraunhofer IAP
© Fraunhofer IAP

Until now, the energy supply mechanism in Germany and Europe has taken a centralized form. Massive power plants are responsible for generating electricity and heat which are then distributed via cables or district heating networks. When the boom in solar and wind generation began around 20 years ago, many in the sector hoped that decentralization would follow – a belief that led only to disappointment in many respects. While the number of distributed energy generation systems has indeed risen, the wholesale change once envisaged has yet to materialize.

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