Seven reasons why hydrogen fuel cell cars will never be a commonly deployed technology:
- You get hydrogen by cracking hydrocarbons or electrolyzing water. In either case, you are better off cutting out the hydrogen production step. You can burn the hydrocarbons directly (or make liquids from solid ones) and you can use the electricity to drive electric vehicles. Pretty much any time you make hydrogen, you are using up a better fuel.
- Cooling and compressing hydrogen for storage takes a lot of energy. Even liquid hydrogen has less energy per litre than gasoline.
- We would need to build an infrastructure of hydrogen liquification stations and pipelines.
- Storing enough hydrogen to travel a decent distance is difficult.
- Arguably, storing that quantity of hydrogen in a car is quite dangerous.
- Fuel cells are very expensive, partly because they require platinum catalysts. They are also relatively fragile.
- Fuel cells that produce water as a by-product might have trouble in freezing cold conditions.
Granted, a few of these factors might change. We might develop an ideal system for storing hydrogen or develop fuel cells with cheaper catalysts. Even so, the number of objections is large. Forced to bet, my guess for the ground transport of the future is electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids for urban areas and biofuel or coal-to-liquid powered vehicles for long-distance travel.