Zero emission vehicles and alternative fuels

Advantages of hydrogen fuel for vehicles


The United Kingdom government has identified the potential for hydrogen to play a significant role in the decarbonisation of transport.

Greenhouse gas emissions savings of between 10 per cent (compared with a diesel HGV) and around 43 per cent (compared with a petrol car) are possible with hydrogen-powered transport.

Hydrogen is likely to be most effective in transport in areas ‘that batteries cannot reach’, where energy density requirements or duty cycles, weight and volume restrictions and refuelling times make it the most suitable green energy source.

Benefits of hydrogen vehicles

Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have zero tailpipe emissions. FCEVs use electric motors to drive the wheels, but store energy on-board as compressed hydrogen, rather than just in a battery. Hydrogen reacts with oxygen from the air in an on-board fuel cell to produce electricity. Water is the only by-product. 

While no greenhouse gas or air pollutant emissions are produced by FCEVs themselves, like battery electric vehicles (BEVs), their well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions depend on the method of energy production.

FCEVs have had two advantages over BEVs:

  • fast refuelling with high pressure hydrogen
  • longer range

While BEV techology is gaining ground in these two areas, in the long term hydrogen vehicle technologies may be well suited to use in HGVs and by fleet operators - find out more about hydrogen fuel cell technology.