Ricardo hired for economic analysis of fuel cell technology

03 July 2017 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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California Fuel Cell Partnership has hired Ricardo Energy & Environment to run an economic analysis of fuel cell technology for the heavy vehicle sector. Fuel cells are one technology being developed to transform the wider transportation network towards sustainability.

One of the many technologies being developed to bring sustainability to transportation is hydrogen fuel cells. This technology aims to tap into the underdeveloped potential of hydrogen gas, heralded as a clean fuel source as it only produces water vapour upon combustion. In recent years the technology has become a focal point of new energy research, hopeful of providing solutions for, among others, freight transport and public transport.

In a bid to support the rollout of the then nascent technology, the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) was founded in 1999. The organisation brings together industry players and government organisation to support the expansion of the fuel cell electric vehicle market, through, among others, helping to ensure that vehicles, stations, regulations and people are aligned in the ecosystem more widely to rollout the technology seamlessly, and recently turned to energy and environment focused consulting firm Ricardo Energy & Environment.

Experts from the firm, which is already involved in the global Advancing Transport Climate Strategies project, have been called in to model the economic impact, in terms of an assessment of the total cost of ownership, of the diverse energy ecosystem for the commercial operation of various fuel options on the US freight industry, including fuel cell trucks and hydrogen stations. The work will leverage Ricardo’s proprietary Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) modelling capability.

Ricardo runs economic models for CaFCP

The modelling, which includes current and future technology projections, includes comparisons with new and current technologies, including natural gas, battery electric, hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cells. The process will also involve the calculation of various key economic metrics, such as total cost of ownership, payback period and internal rate of return. In addition the analysis is due to consider the wider ecosystem in which the heavy vehicles operate, their recharging infrastructure and respective capital costs.

“Economic modelling and assessment is vital in identifying and overcoming barriers to commercialisation of advanced technology, and to developing a strong business case against which customers can invest,” commented Piyush Bubna, a Consultant at Ricardo Strategic Consulting. “We are pleased to be collaborating with the California Fuel Cell Partnership by providing our extensive TCO economic modelling and analytical expertise and supporting the Partnership in its efforts to advance zero emission fuel cell technology in commercial truck applications.”

“Medium and heavy-duty fuel cell electric trucks will play a crucial role in reducing vehicle emissions in California,” said Bill Elrick, CaFCP’s Executive Director, “but are at the beginning stages of introduction. Ricardo’s TCO model provides an enabling toolset that will help CaFCP members develop a consensus view as to the potential of hydrogen fuel cell technology, as an alternative to diesel propulsion in truck fleets operating with California.”

Ricardo has considerable expertise in the space, including its appointment to run a £3.5 million government run competition to develop fuel cell recharging infrastructure plans in the UK in 2015. Arup too has been active in the fuel cell space, including its agreement with ITM Power to collaborate on hydrogen fuel technology.