Why Hydrogen Fuel Cells Have No Future

Hydrogen fuel cell maker Plug Power (NASDAQ: PLUG  ) was one of the hottest stocks of 2013, rising from a low of $0.26/share to a high of $11.72 (a 4,400% increase). The media-hype surrounding this company got many investors interested in fuel cell stocks, such as competitor Ballard Power Systems, which was up about 400% at the time Plug Power was peaking.

With several automakers such as Honda and Hyundai investing in fuel cells as an alternative to Tesla Motors  (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) and battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs), and with Plug Power dropping 63% from its recent highs, investors may be wondering whether or not this is a good time to jump on the fuel cell bandwagon, now that the stock seems closer to the ground floor. However, as I'll explain in this article, not only is Plug Power a bad idea as a long-term investment, but the entire idea of "a hydrogen fuel cell economy" is pretty much dead on arrival. 

Why Plug Power is a terrible investment
First of all, let me be clear that Plug Power is not in the auto market (and is itself not a direct competitor to Tesla) but caters mainly to warehouse vehicles, such as forklifts. However, I feel that the company is so unfriendly to shareholders and so fundamentally flawed that a brief warning to potential investors is required. Plug Power's run-up from less than $1/share to over $11 occurred in a three-month period after signing contracts with Fedex and Wal-Mart. The company responded with not one, not two, but three secondary offerings in which it diluted existing shareholders (by 271%), and did so at enormous discounts to the share price at the time (more than a 50% discount to be exact). In total it raised $150 million despite a mere $30 million in 2013 sales. 

PLUG Chart
PLUG data by YCharts

As this graph shows, the company has a history of diluting existing shareholders (a 33.5-fold increase in shares since 2000, a 29% CAGR dilution rate) and destroying shareholder value (share price growth of -23% CAGR). But the biggest problem with Plug Power isn't just in its shareholder-unfriendly behavior, it's with the idea that America will eventually transition to a "hydrogen economy."

Why automotive fuel cells have no future
A lot of big companies, including automakers such as FordGM, and Toyota  (NYSE: TM  ) , have spent billions researching fuel-cell cars, with Ford, Daimler, and Nissan announcing a partnership to develop a "common fuel cell system" they could bring to market by 2017. 

Toyota recently doubled-down on fuel cells with its North American CEO, Jim Lentz, stating that the company was focusing on hybrids in the short term and fuel cells in the long term (as opposed to EVs). The company recently unveiled a 300-mile range fuel cell concept car that it claims might be available for a starting price "in the neighborhood" of $50,000 in 2015, putting it in direct competition with Tesla's Model S. 

Despite support from these major corporations there are two very fundamental reasons why hydrogen fuel cells will lose to battery electric as the technology of tomorrow. 

The cost of building a hydrogen infrastructure to replace petroleum and natural gas would be an estimated $200 trillion. Compare this to the cost of a smart electric grid, $338 billion to $476 billion, which would impart $1.4 trillion to $2 trillion in economic benefits. 

Updating our aging electrical grid is something that America will need to do anyway to keep our lights on and economy running. In the process we can help expand the existing infrastructure to accommodate electric cars which cost $0.75/gallon equivalent to fuel, as opposed to $4.5/gallon equivalent of hydrogen, which the department of energy believes may drop as low as $3.75/gallon equivalent by 2020.  

This brings me to the second fundamental  problem with fuel cells -- the fuel. Hydrogen is not an energy source but a store of energy, much like a battery. Today 96% of hydrogen is made from natural gas, in a process that is 72% efficient. Hydrogen can be made from water in a process called electrolysis -- which is 70% efficient. However, because it is the smallest, lightest, and least dense element hydrogen must be compressed to be stored. When one considers the energy losses of creating hydrogen (say from wind or solar powered electrolysis) then compressed into a vehicle's fuel tank, it will never be as efficient, nor as cheap, as taking that electricity and putting it straight into a battery.

The bottom line is that EVs, such as Tesla's Model S, will always have the upper hand over fuel cells due to higher efficiency and lower fueling costs. Throw in the lack of hydrogen infrastructure and more expensive price tag to build said infrastructure and it becomes clear that hydrogen fuel cells have a very limited future, if any. 

Foolish takeaway
Plug Power's recent stock price rise and fall are examples of pure speculation, and long-term investors should steer clear of the company, if for no other reason than hydrogen fuel cells are simply inferior to battery electric technology on an efficiency and fuel cost basis. Tesla motors, though also highly speculative, is a far better investment, representing superior technology, exceptional management, and incredible optionality opportunities. 


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  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 6:02 PM, svenhh60 wrote:

    what a nonsense report - who is paying for this ?

    the guy writing this has no clue about h2 and the fc and the major breakthroughs over time....

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 7:15 PM, Rotomoley wrote:

    Yes, and not to mention the physical properties of hydrogen make it a poor automobile fuel especially under pressure. Exothermic in expansion, self igniting, invisible flame, molten steel temperatures. Not in my garage. Not even outside near my house !

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 7:16 PM, MCF00 wrote:

    What a pathetic piece of work this is. Nothing in it that would support the most feeble of theories. Ridiculous numbers thrown in there, with no basis whatsoever. Probably written by some joker who is losing his tail in coal investments. Anyone with the slightest intelligence knows that hydrogen is the energy source of the future.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 7:36 PM, MCF00 wrote:

    Pathetic drivel. Nothing in here that would support the most feeble of theories. Ridiculous numbers cited, with no foundation. Probably written by some joker who is losing his tail in coal investments. Anyone with a wee bit of intelligence knows that hydrogen is the energy source of the future.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 7:39 PM, rickielei wrote:

    1st there is infrastructure for water just about everywhere and with modern solar cells and Microprocessor control system a conversion rate at 98% has been achieved including low weight fiber reinforced compressor and storage system

    2nd In J.I.T. systems(Just In Time ) there is no pre storage compression or heat removal needed when used as a heat generating source Hot Water Heater, Process heat for industry etc. can generate cash $$

    3rd and a big deal to me no Manufacturing or transportation cost Pipelines, Railroad cars, Tractor Trailers or oil Tankers or the cost of accidents related

    Last No major Environmental Hazards such as Mining. Manufacturing, and transporting : Lithium, Heavy Metals or Corrosives and no disposal cost Eg(Flight MH 130 carrying Lithium Ion Batteries??)

    P.S maybe to much Oxygen the Byproduct of making Hydrogen by

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 7:57 PM, bokassa wrote:

    "The Motley Fool recommends Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Tesla Motors." No wonder that this article is a POS propaganda for Tesla:( Hydro power IS the future!

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 8:56 PM, hnyahoo wrote:

    The author is not well educated on subject matter.

    C. E. Thomas — Fuel Cell vs. Battery Electric Vehicles

    over twice the volume, greenhouse gas emissions and cost as the fuel cell EV,

    and over 50% more weight and energy requirements to travel 200 to 300 miles.

    These advantages explain why nearly all major automobile companies dropped

    their pure battery electric vehicle developments in the 1990's and devoted most

    of their efforts to the fuel cell EV. While the car companies are now considering

    plug-in hybrids that do not require as overwhelming battery requirements as the

    all-electric EV, and while some car companies are developing short range city

    cars for niche markets, the underlying benefits of the fuel cell have not changed.

    We fully expect that the fuel cell EV will eventually dominate the transportation

    market.

    Table 1. Summary Of fuel cell EV attributes compared to those Of the advanced battery EV

    for 200-mile and 300-mile range

    200 miles Ran e

    Ratio

    Fuel Cell EV Battery EV BEV/FCEV

    Vehicle Wei ht k

    Storage Volume (Liters)

    Greenhouse Gases mile

    Incremental Cost S

    Natural Gas Req'd (MBTU)

    Ratio Battery EV

    Fuel Cell EV

    300 miles Ran

    Fuel Cell

    1280

    100

    310

    234

    3,600

    0.81

    0.81

    Battery

    Ratio

    BEV/FCEV

    2270

    560

    560

    535

    19,500

    1.18

    5.60

    1.81

    2.29

    5.42

    1.46

    2.19

    1256

    215

    232

    2,830

    0.53

    0.53

    1750

    300

    300

    445

    10,200

    0.66

    0.99

    1.39

    4.00

    1.40

    1.92

    3.60

    1.25

    1.87

    3/27/2009

    0 300 Miles Range

    200 Miles Range

    6.00

    5.00

    4.00

    3.00

    2.00

    1.00

    0.00

    Weight

    Cost

    NG Energy

    Required

    Volume

    Greenhouse

    Gases

    Figure 12. Ratio Of advanced battery EV attribute to fuel cell EV attribute for

    both 200 and 300 miles range

    Page 12 of 12

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 9:11 PM, blackmirror wrote:

    Galas: "The cost of building a hydrogen infrastructure to replace petroleum and natural gas would be an estimated $200 trillion."

    That is simply not true. A Hydrogen fueling station can be installed in 48 hours at a cost less than or equal to a Tesla charging station- and much less than the imaginary battery swap stations that will never exist http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjGaNGhz1pE

    Galas: "Today 96% of hydrogen is made from natural gas, in a process that is 72% efficient. Hydrogen can be made from water in a process called electrolysis -- which is 70% efficient. However, because it is the smallest, lightest, and least dense element hydrogen must be compressed to be stored."

    Honda is doing the work that the US could have done if it wasn't spending trillions bombing and invading lands around the world. Honda has a working solar hydrogen station and is working on a home hydrogen fueling station. One day you will be able to fuel your hydrogen electric with gas made from your solar panels http://world.honda.com/FuelCell/SolarHydrogenStation/

    Top Gear reviewed a Hydrogen electric in 2008- the tech is much cheaper and better now http://www.topgear.com/uk/videos/honda-clarity

    "The Motley Fool recommends Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Tesla Motors"

    Well that's interesting, isn't it.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 9:14 PM, DWW12 wrote:

    Wow, the Hydrogen croud out in force. No numbers to back their outrage though. Hydrogen is 3x the cost per mile, hydrogen will be made from nat gas not renewables, hydrogen from solar will get you 1/3 as far (efficiency wise) as battery electric. The "hydrogen" infrastructure is not built and costs orders of magnitude more than battery chargers. The only thing hydrogen has is more range on a full tank, but with no fueling stations you are better of with battery electric anywhere in the foreseeable future. Please hydrogen people map me a trip that will get me 300 miles out of California and back in the next 5 years.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 9:23 PM, DWW12 wrote:

    A H2 station is not the same cost a a super charger station. You have to pay to have it manned, you have to pay for the land (superchargers are in existing parking lots, basically free), you have to truck in hydrogen, forever. An electric charger is a one time set up fee. There is no comparison.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 9:54 PM, routtookc wrote:

    Left out that hydrogen would still be burned in an internal combustion engine. Which is inherently inefficient in itself. Fewer moving parts with electric. No injectors valves oil....

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 10:23 PM, mark1326 wrote:

    You do sloppy research for being a teacher for investments ..... Are you shorting PLUG currently ?

    I see other posters have already attacked you on this short-sighted article ......

    Fuel cells are our future and im sorry that only your seeing eye dog can see that .....

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 10:23 PM, AdamGalas wrote:

    Wow, great to see so many passionate responses. A few points though:

    1. I am not a shill for big oil, or big coal, (as one commenter insinuates).

    2. The Motley Fool may own Tesla and recommend it in one of their newsletters but that has absolutely no influence on its writers. Case in point The Motley Fool also owns shares of Transocean which I think is a terrible company, (and I've written numerous articles stating so). No matter if I agree or disagree with an "official recommendation" I've never experienced editorial pressure to toe the party line. That's simply not how The Motley Fool works.

    3. As to my greater point: The hydrogen infrastructure cost estimate I quoted was an estimate of cost it would take to build out a hydrogen economy, ie replace oil and natural gas with hydrogen.

    That cost includes all the necessary specialized equipment to generate, store and distribute hydrogen. In other words, its based on the idea that Exxon's gas stations will switch to hydrogen stations and Exxon from an oil company to a hydrogen company.

    Ironically enough, big oil companies were some of the biggest backers of "the hydrogen economy" for a few reasons.

    First, it ensures they can continue their current business model, where you go to them to buy energy.

    Second, as DWW12 says, most hydrogen today is made from natural gas. Guess who produces most of that? Big oil companies. So they can push hydrogen (as a VERY long term alternative to oil) seem green but keep making money.

    Next, talking about fuel cell cars, something I didn't have room to talk about in my article is the fuel cell stacks themselves.

    They require platinum, which is expensive, and even though automakers are working on more efficient stacks that use less platinum, if fuel cells go main stream, then it would result in a major increase in demand for platinum, keeping costs of fuel cells very high, (as compared to batteries who's prices are falling drastically every year and that's not even counting Tesla's Gigafactory which will cut costs 30% further).

    Next, fuel cell stacks wear out faster than batteries, (because the platinum catalyst wears out over time) and as I just explained, are now and will always be more expensive to replace than batteries.

    Finally, keep this in mind, (for all hydrogen fans who think that hydrogen tech will improve over time).

    Fuel cell tech is a niche market right now, with some R&D from auto companies but battery tech advancement is being driven by smartphones and consumer electronics.

    That is the main reason fuel cells won't ever catch up or surpass battery EVs when it comes to cost/mile, efficiency or reliability.

    Pushing every better battery tech is: Samsung, LG, Tesla (helmed by "Iron Man" inspiration Elon Musk) while Fuel cell advancement is being half heartily backed by automakers (fuel cells have been "5-10 years away" for decades while EVs like the Lead and Model S are selling like hotcakes today) and Plug Power.

    But thank you to everyone who left a comment. Its great to have a lively debate going, even if things get a little bit heated, (heck those are the most fun;)

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 10:29 PM, notfooling wrote:

    Mr. Galas has once again proven how low the Motley Fool will go to accentuate their agenda. This article belongs in the trash, for trashing is apparently the motive now of this organization. Constructive criticism is always welcome, but articles such as this should always be seen as the scam that it is.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 10:33 PM, bigW wrote:

    If the big auto's are investing in it and believe they may have a car within one to 3 years, you can bet they will - they do not throw money away, especially when they state they believe it is the future. Too bad you are short the stock, I hope you haven't lost too much.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 10:47 PM, Hibiscusanole wrote:

    You hype your stock, I'll hype mine. Lithium is a limited resource, and dirty. Choose it and we're right back to the government that owns it having life or death powers that it will tyrannize the rest of us with.

    The source of energy for building the pyramids was clean hydrogen made from water, going back to water after the molecule was split and used. The pyramids, themselves were power plants. It has a proven ability to work. HyperSolar HYSR is using solar cells to split water from dirty sources and have it come out clean. What's not to like?

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 10:59 PM, fsulevine wrote:

    It is pretty clear that this article was written by a fool.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 11:13 PM, lacdulune wrote:

    Adam Galas, You are a motley fool. I heartily disagree.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 11:45 PM, blackmirror wrote:

    " Hydrogen is 3x the cost per mile"- source please

    "hydrogen will be made from nat gas not renewables,"

    That is simply not true:

    Green hydrogen facility opens at Berlin airport, with first refueling of fuel cell vehicle. "H2BER’s operating principle is based on applying hydrogen as an energy source produced using wind power and solar energy. Initially the electricity required will be provided by a nearby wind park."

    http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/view/38624/green-hydroge...

    Siemens plans electrolyzer system to store wind power as hydrogen. The system, equipped with an electrolyzer from Siemens, will convert surplus electricity from wind farms to hydrogen. The hydrogen will then be stored locally in tankers or fed directly into the natural gas grid.

    http://www.elp.com/articles/2014/05/siemens-plans-electrolyz...

    "(superchargers are in existing parking lots, basically free)"

    ROFL

    " you have to truck in hydrogen, forever"

    You didn't watch the video very closely did you.

    The Hydrogen detractors are working in direct opposition to Elon and Tesla's goal:

    Elon Musk writes: "Our goal when we created Tesla a decade ago was the same as it is today: to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible."

    http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/mission-tesla

    Toyota, Hyundai and Honda are "bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible" and those against hydrogen have not even begun to hear about it. Fasten your seat belts- it's going to be a wild ride.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2014, at 11:53 PM, blackmirror wrote:

    Galas: "Ironically enough, big oil companies were some of the biggest backers of "the hydrogen economy" for a few reasons.

    First, it ensures they can continue their current business model, where you go to them to buy energy."

    This sounds like what was said in "Who killed the electric car". That movie was made in 2006 and alot has happened since then. For example, Honda and their Solar Hydrogen Station http://world.honda.com/FuelCell/SolarHydrogenStation/

    Anyone can make hydrogen at home if they have water and electricity. And if the electricity is from solar, it's free. Hydrogen from renewables is Big Oil's nightmare. And it's happening now.

    Many of the anti hydrogen posts I've seen have assumed tremendous strides in battery tech and wild predictions of unlikely battery swap stations (ain't gonna happen) but seem to think Hydrogen Tech is stuck at the present level.

    Well 700 bar is just a start. Factor that.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 12:28 AM, tmorr55 wrote:

    The author went to great lengths to explain his position. I get tired of the rebuttals that are all about some hidden agendas of Motley Fool, the author being short PLUG etc. Give it a rest and come up with a persuasive argument supporting hydrogen fuel cells. All I know is I could've made a killing had I had a crystal ball. I had plenty of shrs of PLUG when it was less than a buck and sold them for a small profit. Had I only known I was on one of the most hyped, speculative stocks ever!

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 12:43 AM, kdavis860 wrote:

    I don't see how they calculate $0.75 per gallon equivalent for electric cars. A gallon of gas contains about 33.4 kW hours, and a kilowatt hour of electricity costs about 12 cents where I live. I know rates vary, but I'm paying a mid-range price. Even if you give it credit for 100% charging efficiency, which sounds off base, that makes 33.4*.12, or about $4, which is almost the same price as real gas. Is this all efficiency gains, claiming that an electric car is that much more efficient when using energy, because it sure isn't the price of the energy itself.

    That being said, I agree that hydrogen infrastructure won't take off, but for a different reason: hydrogen only stores energy, it doesn't provide it in the sense that an oil well does.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 12:59 AM, EdwardInFlorida wrote:

    I keep telling these "fuel cell fan-boys" about the downfalls but they won't listen. This article has even forgotten to mention that the US military has spent countless billions too, trying to make FC technology practical, but they failed miserably. Hydrogen is not available freely in nature and like gasoline and other fossil fuels, it must go through a very lengthy and expensive process before it reaches the end user. In addition, the energy density of hydrogen is far inferior to gasoline so it takes a lot of it pressurized in a tank, on a car to get decent range. By the time they might figure out how to reduce the mechanical complexity of a FC power system, lithium battery tech will have improved to the point that it will make any advance in hydrogen power irrelevant.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 1:46 AM, hydrogendrive wrote:

    You fools need to think in different way.

    Making of a hydrogen. Pick your poison the easy way or the hard way.?

    99.7% people such as analyst, Pondens day traders do not understand how easy it is to make and how CHEAPLY it can be made or how very expensive it can be made. EVERYBODY like to QUOTES THE EXPENSIVE WAY. Because they don't want it to be successful.!

    For liquid air or Praxair it does cost money for them to produce hydrogen because they have to buy electricity which the big cost and the compressors and turbines are not a large costs.

    On the other hand it costs a refinery absolutely nothing. Or should I say one tens cost of say liquid air or Praxair. All the experts think these are the only ones out there. But in reality they cannot even hold the toilet paper when come to large oil company.

    When it comes to making hydrogen. They are a zero.!

    No one ever talks about oil companies when it come making Hydrogin .

    The Layman the analyst that engineers have not look what's behind the curtain yet.

    They never have considered oil refineries. It really shows you what the so-called experts know.

    So the question here is ..are refineries going to do it most likely not.

    But the government can easily just tell them to so. Refineries are extremely heavenly regulated by federal government, state government and local governments as we'll .

    The so-called experts do not understand how simple is to make hydrogen once oil company makes up its mind to produce it we make it for ourselves...but not for the public yet.

    This is a little complex however it is quite simple. We capture the exhaust of a furnace that's under tremendous pressure we add water and this intern makes steam, we compress it and build up to the high of 2,400 psi. We unload the heat at this pressure spin a turbine generator this turbine generator make electricity free, and this turn a large motor that hook to a compressor. So everything depends on how much loss free heat we wish to capture. We do this with other processes well.

    Most all oil refinery have a cogeneration facility located with it the refine. All refineries can produce all the electricity that is needed to operate any facility

    and can produce enough electricity for a small city however they are not allowed to by law.

    All refineries are required to buy 10% of the electricity from an outside source but they really don't need to but they must because it's required buy law. I bet you didn't know that smart people.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 2:29 AM, Petronilus wrote:

    Nice article finally getting the truth out about this subject.

    And who the heck would enjoy to drive to hydrogen stations to get more expensive fuel than to simply charge at home and spend time only on productive trips and not silly extra trips just to get fuel? Some day we will look back at that and laugh how much silly time we wasted at gas stations. The future is to get rid of that entirely and hydrogen production is nowhere as easy to do as simply charging a car in your garage, at the mall or at your work place.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 2:37 AM, PeakOilBill wrote:

    Only $200,000,000,000,000 for the infrastructure? Wait, I'll get my checkbook out. Maybe China will lend us the money.

    Read "The Hydrogen Hoax' by aerospace engineer, Robert Zubrin, to see why hydrogen will never be used to run anything but rockets, and a few other specialized vehicles. (It's actually funny and well worth your time.) Don't forget that hydrogen gas is dangerously explosive across a wide ratio of mixture with air. And it makes metal brittle over time, so infrastructure will need to be replaced. Even NASA has trouble dealing with hydrogen. Remember when the Shuttle caught fire on the launch pad once from a hydrogen leak. They had to install those spark generators to stop a leak and subsequent explosion from damaging the engine bell. As far as riding in a vehicle with a tank of hydrogen pressurized to between 5,000 to 10,000 pounds per square inch, no thank you. What could possibly go wrong in a wreck? Burns hurt - a LOT. I'll stick with the batteries.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 3:32 AM, blackmirror wrote:

    EdwardInFlorida wrote: " By the time they might figure out how to reduce the mechanical complexity of a FC power system,"

    Hyundai is offering Fuel Cell Electrics for lease starting in a few days (in So Cal). In 6 months Toyota and Honda will offer fuel cell vehicles for sale. So that time is now. The Hyundai will be fueled from hydrogen made from a sewage plant.

    Petronilus wrote: "And who the heck would enjoy to drive to hydrogen stations to get more expensive fuel than to simply charge at home"

    This is a difficult concept so no wonder so many have trouble with it. Anyone can produce hydrogen at home with electricity and water. If the electricity comes from solar panels the resulting hydrogen gas is free. All that needs done is compression- with solar electricity. Hydrogen vehicles will be able to be fueled at home. See the Honda website: http://world.honda.com/FuelCell/SolarHydrogenStation/

    PeakOilBill wrote: "Read "The Hydrogen Hoax' by aerospace engineer, Robert Zubrin, to see why hydrogen will never be used to run anything but rockets, "

    That article was posted in 2006. Much has changed since then- like we're told that much will change with batteries. Except in the 8 years since, a whole lot more has changed regarding Hydrogen than with lithium batteries. An excerpt from "The Hydrogen Hoax"::

    "The spokesmen for the hydrogen hoax claim that hydrogen will be manufactured from water via electrolysis. It is certainly possible to make hydrogen this way, but it is very expensive — so much so, that only four percent of all hydrogen currently produced in the United States is produced in this manner. The rest is made by breaking down hydrocarbons, through processes like pyrolysis of natural gas or steam reforming of coal."

    The author's central argument -that all hydrogen must come from natural gas- is flawed. But he wrote that in 2006. There wasn't even a Roadster on the road then.

    Hydrogen bashers need to try to keep up. It's 2014 now.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 7:43 AM, NoiTall wrote:

    If you look at this in the authors view, then electricity is simply a form of storage for COAL which generates 46% of the nation's power.

    Energy density is key to convenient use by trucks and cars. batteries store 1/35th to 1/70th the energy density of chemical fuels like gasoline, lng, hydrogen. (source TR article)

    If you have solar panels you lose only what charging efficiency the battery has plus the loss when converted back to motion.

    For using grid power, you have huge transmission losses for distribution over wires from the generating station to the home or place of use.

    Then if you consider that alternatives such as the 220 lb module by enginuity engineering allows magnesium wire to be fed in to a tiny heated chamber, producing hydrogen on demand with water.

    NO storage of hydrogen needed, it is generated ON DEMAND as engine or fuel cell conditions require.

    Multiple technologies are being developed or in use to reduce platinum below that of a catalytic converter or eliminate it entirely.

    Electricity costs vary nationwide MUCH more than gasoline costs, since, despite people complaining at the pump, electricity is by definition in the US a highly regulated monopoly. Some quote nationwide averate at 5cents per kwh.

    if these figures are used, then the price paid in major california cities is closer to 22c per kwh,

    so the 75c quoted multiply by 4x is closer to $3 per gallon. Much of the nation is higher in price, closer to the 22c and in Hawaii is closer to 50c per kwh.

    then there is the incovenience. at google in central california, employees fight over and get miffed if someone shows up and parks in one of the limited electric vehicle charging parking spots.

    This shows up a major problem. About half of the population has no access to charging by electricity where they live. They may live in apartments where they park in a lot and can't run a cord outside for example.

    Electric drive cars are certainly more efficient than internal combustion engines.

    both fuel cell and battery electric cars use electric drive. The fuel cells are twice as efficient in converting chemical energy to electricity compared to internal combustion engines, which waste a huge percent as combustion heat.

    In the end, I think we'll have hydrogen - battery hybrid cars. They'll have a small fuel cell, like the 135hp or smaller in this article:

    http://www.autoweek.com/article/20130701/green/130709989

    and a battery pack that it can recharge or can be recharged by the grid or your solar panels.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 8:41 AM, shirtbrigade wrote:

    A thorough analysis would include more backup. How long have solar cells been around? Be honest now. Have they ever returned a cent? No. Why? because only recently, has a technology been unlocked to allow the cost to make the panel come it at less than the value of the electricity it will generate over its useful life. In fact, the more breakthroughs in this regard, the lower the cost per electron. That is the key here. What is the cost to make an electron and how efficient is that electron when its used to move a vehicle, heat a space, cool a space and so on. What you gloss over is the demand for things like redundancy and alternative energy for more reasons that straight up economics. And my examples would number in the tens of thousands. Every time you see a solar panel, knowing it cost a lot more to make and put in place than it will ever return in dollars, still, they are there. Why? Process requirement. Whatever the device that is relying on the solar panel is doing, like remote devices in areas prone to power outages, that kind of need drives the presence of the inefficient and stupid-costly solar panel. And yet, it is there. You must explain why the solar panel is there, why its needed, why there is demand for it, given its inefficiency, before you can slay hydrogen cells. NASA is dependent on them, granted, their use is exotic. I am sorry but you make a strong case for longs and a weak case for shorts.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 8:52 AM, Dmitrii wrote:

    Tesla Supercharger station is a simple transformer and wirings.

    Hydrogen pump station should cost about 100 times more to install since it has a lot of piping and valves and pumps and instrumentation.

    According to ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Hydrogen is the most dangerous gas from the point of view of explosiveness. Equipment that is certified to work with hydrogen could cost up to 10 times more than equipment that work with methane or gasoline.

    Hydrogen fuel cells are called "fool cells" for a reason. Its a complete waste of time and money.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 9:03 AM, km4hr wrote:

    Why is everyone looking at EV versus FC as an either/or situation. Is there a reason both can't exist together? Do we have to make a final decision today about which way to go? Can't we just watch how the technologies progress and make appropriate decisions at a particular point in time? I can't tell you whether my next car is going to be a Toyota or a Ford. I'll make that decision when I get ready to buy a new car. I won't really care if it's powered by EV, FC, or good old internal combustion.

    Also, everyone seems to assume that Tesla is somehow locked into battery technology. Is there some reason they can't incorporate FC technology if they so desire?

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 9:24 AM, fedrive wrote:

    I regret to say the author makes a poor case for killing innovation that hopes to make changes to our environment.

    Who know where it will lead ? No one.

    I know one thing. If the author is from Silicon Valley he or she should think about living somewhere else.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 9:32 AM, igwt88 wrote:

    Also they are researching hydrogen actively. Platinum catalyst may not be necessary - nickel might a possibility

    Is This New Fuel Cell Catalyst a Game Changer for Hydrogen Vehicles?article from motley fool May 2014

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 10:12 AM, djplong wrote:

    Here's how I calculate the cost of "gas" for an electric car.

    I pay about $0.11/KWh for electricity. Gas at the cheapest station around costs $3.59/gal. My current car get 30 MPG +/- 2 MPG depending on my driving mix. So the gasoline cost is $0.12/mi.

    A Tesla Model S get around 3 miles per KWh of electricity - cost: $0.04/mi. So, around here, the equivalent cost of fuel would be about $1.20/gal.

    Now, factor in the elimination of oil changes, filters, transmission servicing, catalytic convertor replacements, and belt replacements. All those I've had with my very well performing Camry. If I go to the OTHER cars I've had, there's water pump replacements, head gasket replacements, valve replacements, fuel pump replacements, exhaust system replacements and more. Only the tires and some steering and suspension parts that I've replaced would be subject to replacement on a Tesla. In the last two years, I've spent a total of $2,770 on repairs on my 12-year-old Camry that I have religiously maintained (as I want another 4 years out of it and it has 240,000 miles on it). About $500 of that (tires, bushings) were parts that a Tesla has. The rest? Well, I wouldn't be paying $1600+ for two catalytic convertors...

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 11:05 AM, EdwardInFlorida wrote:

    @Blackmirror, "Hyundai is offering Fuel Cell Electrics for lease starting in a few days (in So Cal). In 6 months Toyota and Honda will offer fuel cell vehicles for sale. So that time is now. The Hyundai will be fueled from hydrogen made from a sewage plant."

    They could be offering nuclear powered cars for all I care. The technology is not practical for small vehicles. NASA and the US military haven't been able to find a way to make it work in a way that could be a serious competitor to the internal combustion engine. They published many pages of reports as to why it is not recommended. You will still need to store the fuel (hydrogen) and it must be pressurized. That presents a hazard in and of itself. The infrastructure needed to make a hydrogen car usable in all the country is very expensive and they must be manned, The only advantage is that it burns clean, other than that, its more trouble than its worth.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 11:20 AM, dannystrong wrote:

    This is just the Fool doubling down on its love affair with Tesla. The Fool is once again desperately holding back the ocean in support of Elon Musk. In this case, trying to head off the competitors by just declaring the technology bad.

    Batteries are a terrible idea. They have terrible side effects in production and disposal. Look up the effects of cobalt in the food chain. Then check if cobalt is in the 7000 cells in a Model S. They are the inefficient end of a long power generation chain, and convert it to chemical energy and then back to electricity. Batteries are not the future.

    Using the logic presented in the article, no electric grid of any sort would exist in this country -- we'd all be using local diesel (I hope) generators. We'd have no network of gasoline stations. We'd have no highway system. It would all be too expensive, apparently. And yet here they all are.

    Lastly, PlugPower is not the be-all and end-all of the hydrogen fuel cell. Forbes, for instance, identifies twelve companies in the game (three making using the same technology as PlugPower.) Tesla partisans (including Mr. Galas) declare it the only solution, and with exactly one product. On the hydrogen side, there is a robust and diverse development process going on (including from solar power directly). The future is there.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 11:51 AM, ALAK wrote:

    The best thing I've read regarding posts and/or blogs on the web is that most of them are paid promotions. I guess the most common name would be an attempt at "influence peddling." It's good work and takes very little time to write articles that are snippets of that which has been written many times in other articles. To see that day by day pounding of PLUG is pathetic. If you haven't reach an audience since October when the stock started gather interest once again (1999 when GE made an investment then pulled up horns) then you bloggers have all failed. I'm not going to do you service by disecting your prognostication on PLUG nor anyone else with no inside info. It always comes back to the advice that one should follow their own decision to invest without being influenced by what is most likely supposition of PLUG's position at this juncture and all figures thrown out are yesterdays news. However, keep these articles coming we need the reading exercise as the world news is still discouraging.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 11:56 AM, badkat7 wrote:

    It is disappointing to read such a poorly researched article. Going forwards it is certain that hydrogen will be produced by cracking water rather than hydrocarbons; that we do not is purely because hydrogen is not a wholesale fuel source at present. There are many ways to disassociate hydrogen from water, ranging from direct solar (via organic, steam separation, catalyst) to electrolysis. Fuel cell technology is advancing rapidly with major breakthroughs from Toyota and Honda. As for the cost of conversion, $200 trillion is mythical. The conversion will happen in phases; first a standalone dispenser at existing stations and then eventually subterranean tanks replacing those used for gas. True it is harder to store hydrogen, but then again a tank of hydrogen is only around eleven pounds in weight and will take you 310 miles (Toyota). In the area of storage, developments in carbon nanotubes suggest we can store hydrogen safely with less risk of catastrophic fire damage than conventional gas.

    Out of the gate Toyota is saying it can bring a car to market for less than $45,000. That brings fuel cell technology to a far wider audience than the Tesla; and when you get to the station it takes just a couple of minutes to refuel and you're on your way.

    Electric cars are not down-and-out however. Advances in batteries, arising mostly in Japan, promise to radically cut costs, use of exotic materials, and provide a recharge time in the order of 20 minutes. We'll have to wait and see if this new type of carbon based battery really pans out as promised!

    Either solution is bad news to Big Energy. I would dearly love to take my house off-grid but at present the cost of batteries (and their size) is prohibitive. However a fuel cell with a 25 year life? Different story entirely. I could use solar to direct-manufacture hydrogen then run my house on fuel cell overnight. Eat that Republican States like Arizona that have decided to punish solar panel users with a $20 fine every month!

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 12:05 PM, so75 wrote:

    I have read all the comments and the article. My vote is still battery. I would much rather sit on a battery that "might" catch fire vs. a HIGHLY combustable gas.

    The only reason why Hydrogen may succeed over battery is because the oil companies and infrastructure have a need to push it to validate their own existence.

    I would much rather just plug in my car or have it hooked up to solar panels vs having to go to a fuel station or get some conversion system at home for hydrogen.

    Why would anyone want a more complicated hybrid or hydrogen vehicle vs a much simpler EV? More parts to break, maintain, etc.

    Batteries will continue to improve. If a brand new battery comes out that's viable, all Tesla has to do is just swap their pack out. Simple!

    People complain that the Telsa range isn't long enough. It is for me for 99% of my driving. When I go on long trips, I rent a vehicle to prevent wear on my own vehicle anyway. And there will be a cheaper tesla in a few years.

    I just don't see how there can even be a debate about this. Again, the only reason why Hydrogen "may" win is so that there can be many more people employed and more oil companies getting money for nothing. There is a lot of money backing Hydrogen because dinosaur big companies are afraid. Hydrogen is how they can still claim their strangle hold on the world. I am for an automated system of just plain electricity instead of convert solar to hydrogen to transportation to compression to fuel cells to engine to.... I mean really?

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 2:14 PM, manmillion37 wrote:

    Please be real, look at all banks diluting shares, look at all automakers diluting, look at all medical stock diluting or all miners diluting, I guess You got my picture on it. There is a huge sector of storage electricity, backup power, some industrial machinery and more will use PLUG power service. It will grow like not many companies have ability to grow.

    I see a 8 times growth in 2014-2015.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 2:33 PM, hydrogendrive wrote:

    You must of published the store for a reaction I don't think you people are that ignorant.

    Three years ago Fools slam all the solar companies every single day now they made the turn around.

    The Fools need to stick to their sensor companies that they are pumping right now.

    Gardner may be a good analyst on any given day however to say what it would cost billions of dollars to replace our economy to hydrogen that's a Fool.

    No one ever said to replace our economy with all hydrogen...Fool.

    Someone else should proof read that article that they're pumping out it must've been midnight maybe everybody's was drunk hell.

    The United States government is giving energy credits to hydrogen technology.

    Car companies this week is going to introduce a Hydrogen automobile this is not a pipe dream.

    Late November this year three other car companies are going to introduce hydrogen automobiles as well.

    Distribution centers are installing large infrastructure on their property to fill Hydrogen forklifts that take up real estate on their property. They are saying it's here to stay.!

    They are also are replacing their cooling units on semi trucks with hydrogen refrigeration power units.

    **+*Power has just announced reformers unit for small companies with 20 forklifts.***

    Check this link out.

    This house has an On-site reformer systems convert natural gas to hydrogen.

    http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/home-energy-station...

    So you buy a hydrogen car and in stall a reformer at your house or place of bossiness.... that work for me.

    Question is this where the low cost stack M.O.U come in with Hyundai.?

    The Deal will be consummated at the end of July.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 3:06 PM, vet212 wrote:

    Fuel cells are orders of magnitude superior to any Battery available today. the Hydrogen can be stored in several forms including compressed natural gas any in any form fuel cells are quicker to refuel than batteries to recharge

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 3:23 PM, btc909 wrote:

    The amount of electricity for the Hydrogen conversion process is insane! You can only subsidize that cost for so long and eventually pass it onto the consumer.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 6:28 PM, knwmn wrote:

    With a similar lack of knowledge as presented here, the interstate high way system would never have been built. W#e would not have a nationwide electricity grid, and fracking would be way to expensive.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 7:30 PM, blackmirror wrote:

    Why Fuel Cells and not batteries? Fuel cells permit decentralized, clean, abundant energy production.

    The Tesla Model S: The finest coal-powered car money can buy http://www.zdnet.com/tesla-model-s-the-finest-coal-powered-c...

    Personally, I believe that all avenues towards an oil free future must be pursued. Batteries, Algae, etc. For those new to "fool cells" please notice that the anti hydrogen posters frequently resort to personal attacks and vitriol. Why are some of them so emotional? Do Fuel cells pose a direct threat to their stock holdings? Are they regurgitating stale old arguments from 2006?

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 10:30 PM, AdamGalas wrote:

    Its certainly great to see such a spirited debate. Some quick points to some of the more popular perceptions:

    1. I am not short PLUG, nor do I recommend anyone short this stock. In fact, The Motley Fool, as a general rule, doesn't advocate shorting stocks because of the inherent problem with going short; infinite downside, limited upside.

    For example, when PLUG when from $.26/share to $2.60 in a very short time, a fundamental value investor might have shorted the stock figuring it had flown too fast and far. BUT the stock then heads to $11/share and the short loses his/her shirt, even if a year later the shares have dropped back to $1.

    Much like options, shorting a stock successfully, especially a momentum, hype driven stock such as PLUG, requires being correct not only in terms of valuation, but timing as well.

    As the saying goes: "Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent".

    2. Regarding the imminent release of fuel cell vehicles:

    Honda has been leasing the FCX Clarity for years now (since 2008) but in VERY limited numbers (200 in both Japan and America -- over three years) and mainly because it gave them zero emission credits.

    http://world.honda.com/news/2008/4081125FCX-Clarity/

    Toyota is planning a similar, very limited release in 2015 and forsees the potential for perhaps as many as 10,000 fuel cell vehicles in California, eventually.

    Meanwhile Tesla is on pace to beat its guidance of 35,000 Model S's this year and Nissan's Lead just surpassed 100,000 global sales in just three years.

    http://www.treehugger.com/cars/0-100000-3-years-nissan-sells...

    Over 50,000 of those are in the US.

    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1092465_plug-in-electric...

    So fuel cell cars = hundreds of units over three years.

    EVs = over 100,000 units over three years

    Fuel cells are largely a move by auto companies to meet regulatory requirements while EVs are actually selling (not just leasing) in real numbers.

    3. At the end of the day fuel cells and battery EVs are just two different ways of supplying power to electric motors which are 90% efficient vs internal combustion engines of 20% efficiency (or hybrids 30-40% efficient).

    Fuel cell works by running hydrogen and oxygen over a catalyzed fuel cell stack to generate electricity. In other words, its just a different form of battery than traditional batteries such as Lithium Ion.

    The reason why fuel cells will always be inferior to battery electrics is because of the extra step involved with hydrogen.

    EVs: Electricity (from any source)--> battery--->motor--->motion

    Fuel cells: Electricity--->hydrogen generation--->storage----> fuel cell--->electricity--->motor--->motion

    The extra steps involved with fuel cells driving an electric motor (fuel cell cars are in fact a type of electric car) means that there are inherent losses in energy and thus efficiency. Its the 2nd law of thermodynamics -- nothing is 100% efficient.

    Think of it this way:

    battery electric cars are like solid state storage while fuel cells are like hard drives (with spinning magnetic disks).

    You can make a hard drive reliable and efficient, but it will never be as reliable, as efficient as the solid state flash based storage because it requires a moving disk (which means energy lost to friction and more to break).

    Electric cars have no moving parts other than the motor and wheels. They are simpler than regular cars and thus maintenance is lower, reliability higher, and efficiency higher.

    Fuel cell car is just like electric car, but with a fuel cell (additional step) providing electricity for the motor.

    That extra component represents an inherent loss of efficiency and another component to go wrong -- ie reduced reliability, lower efficiency which results in higher overall costs.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 11:06 PM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    3 years ago the common belief was that either you were connected to a natural gas line or it wasn't an option when it came to heating a building. Today that's totally wrong. Companies are making a good profit with semi trailers custom built to hold natural gas at high pressures at low temps. Most people would never know what they are as they look just like a regular trailer.

    The same will be done with hydrogen. A station will be simply a place where a couple of trailers are stored connected to dispensing pumps. As a trailer runs low a couple of valve will be switched and the next trailer will start supplying gas. A truck will show up with a full trailer and swap out the empty one.

    In fact current gas stations with a little spare room can be updated to include the sale of hydrogen. The cost would be minimal.

    Charging stations have one big flaw. When in use one car ties up a spot for 1/2 hour or more. Even at the best case of 20 minutes that's only 3 cars an hour vs 15 or more per spot. If a station makes $5 profit (not likely that high) per fill up then that's a potential loss of millions per year per station. That alone will make commercial charging stations undesirable for the station owner.

  • Report this Comment On June 09, 2014, at 1:55 AM, NYCTokyoLondon wrote:

    kdavis860 - "I don't see how they calculate $0.75 per gallon equivalent for electric cars. A gallon of gas contains about 33.4 kW hours, and a kilowatt hour of electricity costs about 12 cents where I live. I know rates vary, but I'm paying a mid-range price. Even if you give it credit for 100% charging efficiency, which sounds off base, that makes 33.4*.12, or about $4, which is almost the same price as real gas. Is this all efficiency gains, claiming that an electric car is that much more efficient when using energy, because it sure isn't the price of the energy itself."

    Yes, it's efficiency gains, an 85kWh Tesla is rated for 265 miles, so 33.4kWh gets it to 104 miles.....Don't forget that it's also nearly a 2 1/2 ton sedan, not a small car.....

    All this talk about home hydrogen, hydrogen infrastructure, etc., is nice, but we have electric grid and free superchargers NOW.....We also already have possibly 50,000 Teslas on the road today. As a Tesla owner I have no reason to wish anything but success for any alternative to antiquated dino oil energy use. I just can't imagine things like using natural gas (a fossil fuel) or even solar panels to create hydrogen at home (something robust enough to make it safe at home is going to be expensive) to convert it back to electricity would be desirable when you can charge a battery directly. Maintenance costs are much simplified, and you don't have to fork over whatever the currently nonexistent national hydrogen stations are going to want to charge you. Hydrogen stations or home hydrogen generators would still need to be powered from whatever energy source would power an electric station or home charger (if it was coal for instance), and trucking in hydrogen from tankers that get 5mpg doesn't seem optimal either. Superchargers have already gone from 90kWh to 120kWh, and will continue to get better as the technology improves.

  • Report this Comment On June 09, 2014, at 7:47 AM, blackmirror wrote:

    Twenty Hydrogen Myths by Amory Lovins, consultant, physicist

    environmental scientist and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute.

    Lovins has received ten honorary doctorates and won many awards. He has provided expert testimony in eight countries, briefed 19 heads of state, and published 29 books. These books include Reinventing Fire, Winning the Oil Endgame, Small is Profitable, Brittle Power, and Natural Capitalism.

    Twenty Hydrogen Myths (originally published in 2003- Hydrogen tech is better and costs are lower now)

    This peer-reviewed white paper offers both lay and technical readers a documented primer on basic hydrogen facts, weighs competing opinions, and corrects twenty widespread misconceptions. Some of these include the following: a hydrogen industry would need to be developed from scratch; hydrogen is too dangerous for common use; making hydrogen uses more energy than it yields; we lack a mechanism to store hydrogen in cars; and hydrogen is too expensive to compete with gasoline.

    This paper explains why the rapidly growing engagement of business, civil society, and government in devising and achieving a transition to a hydrogen economy is warranted and, if properly done, could yield important national and global benefits.

    http://www.rmi.org/Knowledge-Center/Library/E03-05_TwentyHyd...

    Direct link to document (PDF)

    http://www.rmi.org/cms/Download.aspx?id=6667&file=E03-05...

    Perhaps the author would like to review this paper.

  • Report this Comment On June 09, 2014, at 10:09 AM, CleanEnergyNow wrote:

    This article is, to a large extent, not based on accurate facts. Since when are we replacing the natural gas and petroleum pipeline network? The transition to hydrogen as a fuel will be incremental and the costs of building the infrastructure will be carried by the vendors of hydrogen, not the consumer. Shell has already built a number of hydrogen stations in the LA area. The industrial gas companies (Air Liquide, Air Products, Linde, Praxair) are all planning to provide hydrogen fueling.

    Like any "disruptive" technology, hydrogen fuel cells are a threat to existing interests. Because they are a better way to deliver electricity to a mobile device, fuel cells and their potential success are disrupting the business models of people who are invested in conventional batteries and fossil fuels as the way to deliver energy to mobile devices. It is understandable that article likes this are going to be written as people struggle to maintain their investments in technology that is taking a back seat to a new, superior one.

    There are many resources for anyone wanting to learn more about hydrogen and why it is the ideal fuel. Here is one from Linde:

    http://www.linde-gas.com/en/innovations/hydrogen_energy/inde...

  • Report this Comment On June 09, 2014, at 1:49 PM, jaketen2001 wrote:

    Ahhhhh,

    The old saw, hydrogen is not a source of energy. You can burn it in an ICE, just like gas. In fact BMW has done just that, and no not in a FCEV, just using H2 as fuel. It is also used as rocket fuel. Seems like a source of energy to me. That's right you can't mine it. Thanks for the insightful,.........zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh I am sorry did someone write an article? Hydrogen is a source of energy, you have to refine it out of natural gas or water just like you have to refine gas out of oil.

    You might want to ask yourself, what is Toyota, Hyundai, Daimler et al. thinking of. Did they not anticipate issues with a refueling network? Did they not anticipate that someone might want to refuel their FCEV week 2 after they drove 300 miles? I think they are on it. In fact, let me say, they, and specifically Toyota and the state of CA, is on it.

    I am no fan of Plug, and your dilution chart on them is a warning to any would be investors in them. You should really cite your date on infrastructure. I believe it is vastly incorrect.

    The efficiency of the fuel generation vs the efficiency of the human driving the car are two different items. You have 2 cars, one goes 100 miles and one goes 300. The 100 mile car takes 8 hours to fully recharge, the 300 mile car takes 5 minutes. Which one do you want?

  • Report this Comment On June 09, 2014, at 2:49 PM, ALAK wrote:

    Without researching Motley's past sentiments regarding PLUG (maybe Motley can run their articles since the first of this year) I have a sense that this is a complete turn around in past analyst of PLUG by the Motley's. Right or wrong? And is there by chance any connection between Seeking Alpha and Motley?

  • Report this Comment On June 09, 2014, at 5:37 PM, AdamGalas wrote:

    Regarding the fuel cost calculations for electric cars, here's a good way to look at it.

    Tesla S has 265 mile range from 85 KwH battery pack. At $.12/KwH, that's $10.2 to refuel, and $.26/mile in fuel costs.

    Tesla S competes with BMW 7 series, which gets 29 mpg highway. 265 miles requires 9.137 gallons of premium gas, or $36.55 (at $4/gallon).

    Thus the Tesla is 3.58x cheaper to fuel and that's not counting oil chances and other maintenance that the electric Tesla won't need, the comparison becomes even better.

    Or if the cheaper Nissan Leaf is more your style, the 24 KwH battery costs $2.88 to charge to go 84 miles. In a compact car, that would take 2.4 gallons of gas (35 mpg) or $8.4 ($3.5 regular gas). That makes the Leaf 2.91x cheaper to fuel, again not counting cheaper maintenance.

    As to the issue of The Motley Fool's stances on PLUG (or WPRT or CLNE) please keep in mind that Motley Fool writers are independent of official recommendations. We are individuals with individual opinions.

    Rule Breakers recommends Tesla (as an example) but that doesn't mean everyone at The Motley Fool does. It's a speculative growth company and someone over at Inside Value or Income Investor might never consider investing in it, because it doesn't suit his/her investing style.

    Even among Fools who like growth stocks, there are differing opinions on Tesla and there will be people over at Rule Breakers who disagree with it as a recommendation (might not buy into investment thesis because he/she believes that Toyota fuel cells are the future, not electric cars).

    The Motley Fool allows its free lance writers to write about what interests them and doesn't impart any editorial pressure to toe an official party line, (because, again, at The Motley Fool even the party line isn't "official" just a well respected opinion).

    Thus you'll often get writers who cover the same companies disagreeing with each other, or even a single writer changing his/her mind after learning some new information (I recently changed my recommendation from owning Petrobras to advising against it, for example).

    That's what The Motley Fool is all about. A forum of ideas, where differing opinions gather to share their views and discuss the merits of individual companies. That's why we have a comments section, so that readers can jump in with their opinions and potentially new (or competing information) and we can all have a chance to learn from each other and change our minds, (or not).

    Thank you to everyone who's left a comment and been part of an amusing (and enlightening) debate.

  • Report this Comment On June 09, 2014, at 5:49 PM, daginva2 wrote:

    Just my 2 cents:

    1) Hydrogen isn't any more dangerous than gasoline, in fact, it is probably safer.

    2) Battery tech isn't there yet to have sufficient range and recharge time.

    3) Plug is having success replacing lead acid batteries in materials handling equipment (forklifts, etc) without subsidies because batteries are heavy, expensive, slow to recharge, and have shorter lives in deep cycle usage.

    4) Invert your thinking. A battery stores energy in its electrolyte, which means you can only store as much energy as the electrolyte will hold. Think of a fuel cell as a battery where you can have small electrolyte that you can replace from the fuel tank as it is discharged.

    5) People are looking at hydrogen and fuel cells as a way to store intermittently generated electricity from wind and solar. Again, the storage capacity is set by the tank size, not the size of the battery/fuel cell.

    5) Even if long term grid electricity is cheaper and cleaner than it is now, and hydrogen will ever be, an EV/hybrid like the Chevy Volt, but with a fuel cell range extender instead of an ICE might be the best engineering trade-off. You charge it overnight for local commuting use, but on longer trips, you can fill up with hydrogen on the road.

    Dag

  • Report this Comment On June 09, 2014, at 6:17 PM, blackmirror wrote:

    daginva2 wrote:"1) Hydrogen isn't any more dangerous than gasoline, in fact, it is probably safer."

    You might be interested in this study by Dr. Michael R. Swain, University of Miami "Fuel Leak Simulation" (PDF) https://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/pdfs/30535...

    Picture of Hydrogen car on fire vs. Gasoline car on fire: http://i.imgur.com/lcBNhLG.png

    daginva2: "5) People are looking at hydrogen and fuel cells as a way to store intermittently generated electricity from wind and solar. Again, the storage capacity is set by the tank size, not the size of the battery/fuel cell."

    This is happening! example:

    Green hydrogen facility opens at Berlin airport, with first refueling of fuel cell vehicle. "H2BER’s operating principle is based on applying hydrogen as an energy source produced using wind power and solar energy. Initially the electricity required will be provided by a nearby wind park." http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/view/38624/green-hydroge...

    One day Musk, to save his company, will replace the >1,300 pound battery pack with a fuel cell. It's just a matter of time. There will be no "Battery Swap Stations" either. Just look at it from an ownership perspective- you just bought an $80,000 model S. You are going to swap your brand new $20-40,000 battery for a used one? Sure you are.

  • Report this Comment On June 10, 2014, at 9:01 AM, hikaru11 wrote:

    Remember this article from the Fool? "Why Plug Power is Viable Long Term"

    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/05/06/why-plug-po...

    LOL! Bwhahaha.

  • Report this Comment On June 10, 2014, at 1:34 PM, AdamGalas wrote:

    I respectfully disagree with that article, specifically about the idea that $150 million raised in secondary offerings for a company with Q4 2013 revenues is great.

    As someone who is a big fan of MLPs, I'm not opposed to companies doing secondary offerings to raise capital. The key is that capital has to be accretive to existing shareholders.

    This means, for example, if a company issues 10% new shares, but invests that capital in such a way to increase profits 15%, then EPS actually goes up and as an existing shareholder I benefit.

    PLUG power has shown itself to be incredibly wasteful with shareholder equity. They continually dilute existing shareholders but over the last decade haven't shown either revenue or earnings growth to justify that dilution.

    The fact that an investor in PLUG in 2000, is now down 98% pretty much says its all. Management is great at hype, but the great promise that PLUG has been peddling for a decade has never materialized, only continuous shareholder dilution and losses.

  • Report this Comment On June 10, 2014, at 1:35 PM, AdamGalas wrote:

    Regarding the above article, I meant Q4 2013 PLUG revenue was $8 million, thus raising $150 million was wasteful and unnecessary.

  • Report this Comment On June 10, 2014, at 6:00 PM, ernestoinvesto wrote:

    Cancel my newsletter. I'm done with your site. NO FUTURE. Remember what you said Motley.

  • Report this Comment On June 11, 2014, at 3:19 PM, AdamGalas wrote:

    I'm sorry you feel so strongly Ernesto, but keep in mind that this article is my opinion and not the official position of The Motley Fool.

    A few comments up you'll find a link to another article written by a different Motley Fool writer that believes strongly that PLUG Power is a great investment.

    Thank you to everyone who's taken part in this heated, but interesting debate. You've all given me a lot to think about and lots of new information for future articles that take a more focused and in depth look at fuel cells, (both automotive and not).

  • Report this Comment On June 11, 2014, at 5:09 PM, AdamGalas wrote:

    http://green.autoblog.com/2014/06/04/tucson-hydrogen-fuel-ce...

    $130,000 in zero emission credits per H2 car. This is substantially more than for electric cars, and this is why companies such as Toyota, Honda and Ford are hard at work on fuel cell cars.

    Its a regulation loophole, not because hydrogen is actually superior.

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