Friday, March 22

MP expresses reservation on hydrogen bus


Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has expressed strong reservations on the proposed hydrogen buses in Kuching.

In a statement yesterday, Dr Yii also questioned whether the initiative by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg was properly thought through with proper understanding of the industry.

While he agreed that risk has to be taken to move forward, it should be calculated and not reckless especially when there are better options available.

Dr Yii agreed with the direction to move away from fossil fuel to clean energ but the fact is that hydrogen is not an energy source, but an energy vector or carrier, and production of hydrogen in its purest form, is not clean.

He revealed that almost all high purity hydrogen that is mass produced globally comes from fossil fuel. A high amount of energy is needed to electrolyse water into hydrogen, this energy is mainly produced through burning of fossil fuel.

He said in China, the main feedstock for hydrogen are produced from cracking coal (18 per cent), oil (30 per cent) and natural gas (48 per cent), and only a mere four per cent comes from water.

“Hydrogen produced around the world is not clean. Electrolysis of water is expensive and slow and the cost is volatile to oil and gas prices,” he said.

He suggested Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) or the common electric bus instead of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) as it is more sustainable, have lower maintenance cost and longer lifespan.

For FCV, Sarawak will need to build a new hydrogen production plant, special tankers for transportation or low temperature high pressure pipeline network, and specialised fueling stations to power the FCV, in comparison to BEV where a direct connection into the existing electrical grid anywhere anytime to charge the batteries.

“The cost of a hydrogen-powered bus is estimated at around USD 1 million each based on prices that Denmark spent on a trial phase earlier this year.

“The availability of electricity generated through hydroelectric dams makes development of BEV technology in Sarawak more conducive,” he commented.

Dr Yii assured that he was not against development of public transportation or energy efficient and environmentally friendly technology, but there should be no reason to mass produce hydrogen when Sarawak already has abundant clean and renewable hydro-electricity.