Is going full electric even feasible?
Today, the energy we consume is derived 23% from electrons and 77% from molecules. Translated, this means that we use 23% of the energy available to us in electrical appliances (lighting, trains, trams, machines, appliances, etc.) and 77% in the form of fuels, solid, gas or liquid (for heating, steam, electricity, etc.). Since renewable sources are suitable for direct production of electricity, such as in wind turbines or solar panels, we will have to adapt our consumption to the electrons.
Will we go full electric? Is it feasible? Are we not going to use more energy?
The fact that energy consumption will be reduced because less fossil fuel (diesel and petrol) will be produced - think for example of the disappearance of steam production for oil refining, auxiliary installations, petrol stations, ventilation systems in car parks and tunnels, ... - is usually overlooked. In addition, the ultra-low efficiency inherent to the use of fossil fuels in vehicles must also be taken into account. The volumes of crude oil to be refined avoided are therefore huge and so is the energy consumption associated with it. As a result, electric mobility will reduce energy consumption.
Thus, together with Elon Musk, we claim that as much energy is needed to produce enough diesel fuel to cover a distance of 100km with a car as is needed to produce enough power for an electric car to cover 100km.
So we can easily generate enough power to drive electric cars?
Yes, but we only want to drive on green electricity, don't we?
Diesel is not made on green electricity today,... We won't need more energy but we will need a lot more green electricity when we move to full electric.
The recipe is already fixed:
- use less energy,
- use energy flexibly,
- More renewables,
- Energy storage: for the short term: battery; for the long term: hydrogen / H2
100% renewables ? IT'S POSSIBLE, BUT ONLY THROUGH TRANSITION:
We must not lose ourselves in chicken or egg discussions. If we want to drive hydrogen-powered cars tomorrow, we will have to invest quickly in the construction of large electrolysers. These are devices that produce hydrogen from green electricity and water. As long as no cars are running on hydrogen there seems to be no interest in building such electrolysers and as long as there is no supply of green hydrogen there is little interest in buying a car running on hydrogen.
How do we end this chicken or egg discussion?
Natural gas, is the answer for now.
The energy input in a traditional vehicle travelling 100km on fossil fuel is the same as the energy input in natural gas which, after reforming, produces enough hydrogen to make a vehicle travel 100km on hydrogen (reforming efficiency 75% , fuel cell efficiency 55%, fossil fuel consumption: 50kWth / 100km). This is called blue hydrogen. Fossil fuel consumption will therefore not increase by driving on blue hydrogen. CO2 and NOX emissions will be much lower. The time is ripe to step on this path.
Does anyone still doubt the role of natural gas in the energy transition to 100% renewables?
No one will dispute that the transition to hydrogen from electrolysis is not for right away. However, the transition to hydrogen as a fuel is already possible and will initiate the necessary developments that will gradually change the colour of hydrogen over the coming years, i.e. from blue hydrogen to green hydrogen. The Netherlands have clamped down on natural gas, and that’s a good thing too. It is an encouragement not to hesitate any longer to focus on hydrogen. Blue still for a while blue, but green ASAP.
The energy savings resulting from the application of hydrogen in CHP installations are currently still being underestimated. In the EU manufacturers can already be found who offer CHP on hydrogen for the heating of buildings, businesses and residential areas via heat networks. The combustion engine lends itself very well for this! So by all means, do not dismiss it!
The energy saved as a result of coupling energy flows, such as for example electric driving on electricity originating from hydrogen powered CHP, has a lot of potential. Actually, this very fact was recently even recognized in the coalition agreement of the German Federal Government.