Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Honda FCX Clarity

Honda's hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity is less green than its publicity claims. How do we generate the electricity to make its fuel?

By Michael Booth

Published 26/06/2008

The Honda FCX Clarity
The Honda FCX Clarity

Was Honda behind the Shell truck drivers' strike?

Certainly, it could not have picked a better week to announce that the first hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity was rolling off the production line – what with those noble £40,000-a-year truck drivers blockading refineries in a heroic bid to fund extensions to their Majorcan holiday homes, and oil hitting $140 (£71) a barrel.

But is Honda's technologically dazzling hydrogen programme the long-term solution to CO2 pollution? Yes and no. Mainly no. Almost entirely no, if you ask people who know.

Of course, we all remember the Hindenburg disaster, so credit is due at the very least that none of their FCXs has, thus far, erupted in mushroom clouds of flame, and surely never will.

That's not the problem.

Neither is the fact that Honda is only going to build 200, which it will lease, exclusively it seems, to B-list US film and TV stars. Jamie Lee Curtis is getting one.

But is the FCX just a very classy, very costly, publicity stunt? The press release from Honda made much of the fact that the only substance that comes out of the FCX's exhaust is water vapour.

But, as I never tire of saying, you need electricity to generate hydrogen, and if it comes from fossil fuel sources, as most does, all you are doing is displacing your pollution. It's like breaking wind and blaming it on the dog.

Right now there is just one hydrogen station in the UK. Even Japan has only 12. Why waste massive resources and time developing hydrogen technology and an infrastructure, when what we really should be concentrating on is making cleaner electricity and sexier electric cars?

"Honda doesn't believe batteries can ever meet our transport needs," a spokesman told me. "Charging times and range are way off what hydrogen can do." But remember when your mobile phone was as big as a brick and talk time was about three minutes?

Batteries are improving, and as electricity is already delivered straight into our homes, why bother with the expensive middle man? Forget hydrogen; it's the batteries, stoopid.

Come to think of it, if the human race could just cure itself of its addiction to overpriced flowers, cheap lager, Ginsters meat pies and soft pornography, we might eradicate the blight of the filling station from our land for ever.

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