Using Clean Cars as Power Plants


The combined engine capacity of the new cars we build in just one year is more than the entire electricity generation capacity in the world. If we power our cars with fuel cells, we can use them as clean power plants the 96% of the time we are not driving in them, generating all the electricity we need, at competitive costs, with zero emissions.

A fuel cell is a device that produces electricity from hydrogen, with pure water coming out of the exhaust. If we put a fuel cell in a car, the electricity is used to power electric motors that move the car, just like other electric vehicles. The difference is that pure electric vehicles, or EVs, require batteries, which add weight to the car and require a long time to charge. A fuel cell car can drive 100km on one kg of hydrogen and tanks that take 7kg of hydrogen can be refilled in 3 minutes. Several manufacturers are now offering hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, or HFCVs, among which are Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Ford and General Motors. The idea is to use the fuel cell in the car to produce electricity also when it is not driving, which is 96% of the time. To make that possible, the car would need to be hooked up to a supply of hydrogen when it is parked and it needs to be connected to the electricity grid, either at home, at work or in a parking garage.  The exhaust water can also be used as drinking water and in colder climates the waste heat could be used for heating.

GCC countries have among the highest car ownership rates in the world. If all cars were fuel cell cars, and we can produce the hydrogen using locally available abundant solar energy, which is the cheapest in the world and cheaper than conventional energy this would make great environmental and climate sense and will be economic at the same time.

A techno economic study of the barriers, benefits, advantages and disadvantages of using fuel cell cars to meet electricity needs other than just driving and the prerequisites for policy formulation and implementation.


Publications List

Using clean cars as power plants (Frank Wouters and Ad van Wijk)

Study on “Residential Prosumers in the European Energy Union” (EC)

Quoilin S., Kavvadias K., Mercier A., Pappone I., Zucker A., Quantifying self-consumption linked to solar home battery systems: Statistical analysis and economic assessment, Applied Energy, Volume 182, 2016,Pages 58-67