Hybrid-, biofuel- and hydrogen cars are often marketed as ecological cars, but there are many reasons why pure electric car is the greenest option.
Hydrogen car wastes energy
"A hydrogen car is one of the least efficient, most expensive ways to reduce greenhouse gases"
Joseph J. Romm, energy expert and book publisher ("The Hype about Hydrogen" among others)
Hydrogen- and electric cars are very similar: both cars get their motive power from an electric motor. The essential difference is the energy storage. In an electric car the energy is charged straight to the car's batteries, which then release the power to the motor.
For a hydrogen car, hydrogen is produced from water with electric current. Then the hydrogen is turned to electricity in a fuel cell. The electricity then powers the motor. In this process most of the original energy is wasted, only about 20% is available for use. The electric car has three times better efficiency than the hydrogen car.
Hydrogen car is also far from a complete product, experts are talking about 20 years. It's also very expensive compared to electric car, and still depends on distribution and price fluctuations of one fuel.
- Fuel cell expert Ulf Bossel's report on PhysOrg pages
- A Cost Comparison of Fuel-Cell and Battery Electric Vehicles (PDF)
Hybrid car is greenwash
Ordinary hybrids use only fossil fuels for moving. This kind of a car doesn't really help lowering greenhouse gas emissions, especially when most of the hybrids are on the class of large cars: the fuel consumption is at the same level as with small cars.
Long time campaigning has made the large car manufacturers to slowly admit to add a charging socket for some of the upcoming hybrid models. This makes the car a plug-in hybrid that can charge the batteries straight from a wall socket and with zero emission electricity if so desired. A hybrid is still a hybrid: some parts of the trips are run with fossil or biofuel.
More information about plug-in hybrids:
- Calcars California Cars Iniative
- Plug in Hybrids - The Cars that Will Recharge America
- Google ReChargeIt
- Electric Auto Association - Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle
Biofuels are inefficient and ethically dubious
From climate change point of view, biofuels are neutral in the long term: if the biomass providing the fuel is grown again, carbon dioxide is going in a circle (from field to car - from car to atmosphere - from athmosphere to
Biofuels have quite a lot hanging from their necks. They are mostly produced from farmed plants which can take space from food plants and cause food shortage and undernutrition in the producing country. Fertilizing and machine-assisted agriculture might cause surprising amount of emissions and pollution.
Growing demand of biofuels is creating a need for more fields, destroying tropical forests to make room. Tropical forests are many times more valuable to the ecosystem tham biofuels.
Fuel engine doesn't become any more efficient with biofuel, the engine is wasting 60-75 % of the energy to heat.
More information about biofuels:
- Globbarit: A Finnish site about biofuels - Any similar English sites for replacement?