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When the Committee on Assessment of Resource Needs for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies put out its report through the National Academies of Science last month – the one that was very critical of plug-in vehicles (PHEVs) – plug-in advocate Felix Kramer issued a quick response that said, in part, that the report's "science and economics need to be refuted." He has since gone and done just that, and his lengthy response is now available on the CalCars website.

The reader's digest version of Kramer's response is that the NAS report is totally out of control when it tries to predict advanced battery costs for the next decade. Instead of a drop from over $1,000 per kilowatt hour (kWh) to maybe $400/kWh over ten years, as predicted in the report, there are hints that battery costs for plug-in vehicles that will be available in 2010 are around $600 or $500 per kWh. Also, Kramer criticizes NAS for not looking at the whole gamut of plug-in vehicle options and instead focuses solely on ones with 40 miles of all-electric range. These are just two limits that report runs into, and does put the overall criticism into question. Read all of Kramer's thoughts here. Thanks to David M. for the tip!

[Source: CalCars]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 23 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wouldn't be surprised to see battery prices eventually go closer to $100/kw-hr. A 90% reduction of cost from where it stands now would seem perfectly reasonable to me, if mass production and sufficient capital investment can be brought to bear. Although, it might take longer than 10 years for that to play out.
        • 1 Month Ago
        The immediate goal is around $300kwh by 2015. the lowest estimates I have seen is this:
        'Paul A. Nelson and Danilo J. Santini from Argonne National Laboratory and James Barnes, battery expert at the US Department of Energy, in May 2009 project the mass production costs to the vehicle manufacturer at $255/kwh for a PHEV-20 and $210/kwh for a PHEV 40'

        From the article.

        With this technology I would expect the cost reduction curve to have flattened by that stage, and any further gains to be very incremental, so getting to $100kwh may be tough until we can move on to something very different such as lithium/air.


        • 1 Month Ago
        Advanced battery technology now being developed could improve energy density 5x to 25x. A smaller battery with bigger capacity will likely have a much lower cost per Kwh stored, even if the cost per cell was higher.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The "Committee on Assessment of Resource Needs FOR Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies" obviously is biased in favor of hydrogen fuel cells. That wouldn't be so bad, but they are also obviously biased against anything they perceive as threatening their preferred H2 fuel cell solution.
        • 1 Month Ago
        Of course they have a bias. So does CalCars.
        • 1 Month Ago
        nrb, having a preference is one thing but when you disregard published facts and put out a report that is based on lies, misinformation and impossibly worst case predictions you haven't helped your cause.

        I love how the committee on assessment of resource needs *** FOR Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies *** predicted battery pack cost of $500/kWh by 2020 but GM and other companies have gone on record to state that they are around that cost TODAY.

        The hydrogen scammers know that their product won't be affordable by 2020 (if ever) and just want to put out as much doubt or confusion for their competition as possible.

        Even if the cost of the fuel cell car could be brought down to equal the cost of an all-electric car, the cost of hydrogen fuel alone would make the hydrogen vehicle cost you twice as much to own.
      • 1 Month Ago
      I wish the H2 people would come up with the simple rebuttal of the first law of conservation of energy???
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good job on the tip David M.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Hydrogen cars have batteries, too. And the hydrogen takes 2.5-3X more electricity to make and compress it, than does putting it straight into a battery.

      Oh yeah, that makes sense.

      Neil
        • 1 Month Ago
        I have yet to hear a solution from the H2 people for this!!!

        Anyone with even a basic (very basic) knowledge of how energy works knows that H2 sucks in regards to efficiency compared to a regular battery getting its energy from source.
        • 1 Month Ago
        Why folks imagine that there is some kind of opposition between using batteries and using hydrogen/methanol/DME/whatever liquid or gaseous fuel in a fuel cell I can't imagine, since they go together so well.
        EV: Advantages: energy efficient, charge at home.
        Disadvantages: you only use part of the battery most of the time for the average daily run, so you have a lot of battteries rarely used, which weight a lot. Recharging takes more time than a liquid fuel.
        Although the initial infrastructure is very do-able, rolling it out to every last car at the street side gets very expensive.
        Fortunately we can solve all these problems, by using liquid or gaseous fuels for long runs, and where wired infrastructure would be difficult or expensive.

        Hybrids: advantages: no range worries, no worries about poor performance in cold or hot weather as you have back-up.
        disadvantages: complex to build an ICE and electric system.
        Fortunately we can solve this, by using all electric fuel cells.

        Fuel cells: advantages: can potentially do everything that range extender ICE can do, but better and will enable the fundamental simplicity of the electric car.
        disadvantages: immature technology, building fc as a straight replacement for ICE engines would cost a lot for the high horsepower involved. A much smaller range extender would help with this.
        Less fuel efficient/expensive infrastructure if hydrogen is used.
        Building them as hybrids would mean that only a small part of most people's mileage would use the less efficient technology and greatly reduce infrastructure costs.

        Now I don't know if the price targets that many of the major car companies are working towards can be met, but it sure sounds like a good addition to battery technology if it can.
        If it can't, I still feel that using a technology that can run on liquids or gases would enable much cheaper and simpler roll-out for battery cars and overcome many of their disadvantages, but none has the elegant simplicity of a fuel cell battery combination.

        Of course it is always possible to just assume that battery technology will improve so fast that nothing else is needed, but that still leaves a considerable infrastructure problem and it is better to try to cover the bets.
        • 1 Month Ago
        My biggest problem with fuel cells (regardless how they're fueled) is that they are nothing but a middle man technologically in your vehicle.

        The fuel cell does not propel the car down the road. The fuel cell stack generates electricity which then runs the electric motor. In simplest terms, the fuel cell functions AS a battery pack but you will always be dependent on someone to provide the fuel for your vehicle. If the fuel cell is unable to produce electricity fast enough you would indeed need a small battery pack to supply the electric motor during acceleration or while merging onto a freeway. Then you'd have fuel cell, battery and THEN electric motor.

        Contrast that with an all-electric vehicle. The battery stores electrons and supplies the electric motor; one fewer component and there is no additional middle man in the fuel supply chain.

        You have many choices for where you will get the "fuel" for an EV in the form of electrons. Buy your electrons three different ways: You can plug it into any electrical outlet practically anywhere (at work, at your home or anybody's home) but it will take the most time to recharge. You can get a 220 volt charger at home which will cut the time in half or more. You can go to one of the thousands of "Level 3" charging stations and kiosks that will be installed by the end of 2011 and charge in 30 minutes or less. Or you can make your own by installing solar panels or wind turbines; this is the most expensive in terms of up front costs but you will benefit from stable prices for the foreseeable future.

        Fuel cell vehicles lose on both fronts. You are stuck with the fuel retailer charging you whatever they want to for your fuel and you have an unnecessarily complex vehicle.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Other highlights include the cost savings for a pure EV not being taken into account, as you don't need a lot of the bits that you do for an ICE car, let alone a hybrid.
      That omission was so glaring that I had already concluded that the two reports were just stitch-up jobs.
      That would explain why one of them ignored light plug-in hybrids like the Prius, although the other negative report did look at 10 mile range hybrids.
      They managed a negative conclusion for that one by assuming low petrol prices going forward, and not even considering anywhere outside of the US with more expensive petrol now.
        • 1 Month Ago
        Hi Tim, Climate change is a difficult subject, I look at it this way, every thing is finite on earth, including the atmosphere. We have polluted rivers, streams, bays, sounds, city air, lakes, ground water, so why is it all of the sudden unthinkable that we have a large impact on the atmosphere.

        The Jon Stossel video has sure been disproved with the latest banksters debacle in 2008. Free enterprise sure did not help the bankers to police themselves. Nor will it help make the power companies lowere there emissions.
        • 1 Month Ago
        "The reader's digest version of Kramer's response is that the NAS (National Academies of Science) report is totally out of control when it tries to predict advanced battery costs for the next decade."

        WOW, just WOW.

        Now, if he just replaced the words "advanced battery costs for the next decade" with the words "global temperatures over the next century", he wouldn’t be a hypocrite.

        Watch John Stossel - American's for Prosperity! (it’s here on YouTube)
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR9JOve4rgI&feature=related
        • 1 Month Ago
        Nice catch, David!

        The anti-electric vehicle reports have all been proven to be nothing but hatchet jobs. But we who know that electric vehicles are the only way off of foreign oil will never be fooled by hack studies, reports, astro turf or bubble gum wrappers.

        My next vehicle will be all-electric. I don't care what hydrogen heads or oil company shills say or do.
        • 1 Month Ago
        Hydrogen head here! ;-) - but my other head is a battery!
      • 1 Month Ago
      Fuel cells add a level of complexity to your vehicle that is not needed. Why have the
      - H2 Tank
      - Fuel Cell Stack
      - Air Compressor
      - Battery
      - Controller
      - Electric Motor
      Way too many components to get the job done. More stuff equals more to break down and need regular maintenance.

      All we need is
      + Battery
      + Controller
      + Electric Vehicle
      Simple, powerful and reliable.
        • 1 Month Ago
        Sorry, that should read "Electric Motor" not "Electric Vehicle"

        (I can't be perfect AND handsome) ;-)
      • 1 Month Ago
      The sooner people see that H2 is vapor-ware the better. We need to invest in a viable automotive future, such as EVs or plug-in hybrids (until EVs have large ranges).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Battery prices for good lifepo4 batteries are already getting below $400/kwh..... midrange batteries closer to $500/kwh. This is already much lower than this time last year.
      harlanx6
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would be highly suspicious of anything coming from the hydrogen or fuel cell side. In fact the whole hydrogen argument makes so little sense to me that I have to assign it the status of a scam. By the same token, PHEVs can only be as clean as the power produced to run them, be it coal fired, nuclear, solar, oil fired, natural gas fired, geothermal, wind or hydro. It is not a simple question. We need to produce cleaner power to run our EVs. Batteries are going to be smaller, better, and cheaper, similar to what has happened with computers.
      • 1 Month Ago
      The problem is that lots of $$ has gone into the promised H2 technology, before people started to see EV as viable. By 2020 US might see some possible Hydrogen cars that costs as much as or more than tesla roadster and it might take us some 2035 to actually see your average Accord competition and 2050 before we Indians even get to see that average Accord competition.

      By 2050 most Asian and European countries can easily have advanced batteries beyond imagination with swapping and super-fast charging commonly available. Storage type serial hybrids will see be common for long distance vehicles. This is all possible even if we are not going to pump in as much money into EV's as we did for engine research last decade, every decade forward.

      So my take would be save money adopt the EVs.

      Hydrogen economy will work for large trucks, busses and may be planes in the long term. But cant we have it work in a short while for non-car like applications, where space is not such a big constraint. Fuel cells will also find space in power grids to saturate the power produced by renewable sources. Big companies are not likely to promote "produce where you use" model.
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