Wouldn't it be nice if the car company that sold you the car also sold you its fuel? Or the means by which to produce the fuel? It sounds good for the car companies and it sounds even better for the consumer. The only obvious loser will be the fuel companies... and we all love them, right?
Perhaps the idea is more closer to reality than many think, at least if Honda has its way with the new generation of hydrogen fuel cell cars currently under development.
Honda Japan has built and is now operating an experimental ‘Home Energy Station’ which is actively generating hydrogen from natural gas for use in fuel cell vehicles. It also happens to supply electricity and hot water to the home to which it's attached to.
Okay, so not only does Honda make cool cars (and ever cooler bikes), but soon, they will power your home with electricity and supply the warm water you shower in. Ambitious, but we like it.
The company says that by developing innovative approaches to sustainable energy, it's reducing the environmental impact of the automobile.
How does the Home Energy Station work? Using Solar power. Oh yes, we know what you're thinking. "But the production of solar panels create more pollution than they offset..." Correct, but not these 'new' Honda built, highly efficient photovoltaic cells.
Honda's solar subsidiary in Japan, Honda Soltec Co, has been producing photovoltaic solar cells that incorporate copper, indium, gallium and selenium, as opposed to traditional panels produced from silicon. What does that mean? For a start they can capture significantly more energy making their production more worthwhile.
Honda plans to use the thin film solar cells to power its own fuel cell vehicles – like the FCX Clarity (pictured) – in a completely carbon free energy system.
The Japanese giant is also developing next-generation refueling stations that would use solar power to produce hydrogen from water for powering its fuel cell vehicles.
The big question, will this science-fiction-sounding technology ever see the light of day? Honda Australia’s Managing Director, Yasuhide Mizuno, thinks so. He recently confirmed the Home Energy Station technology will be seen here in the future.
“Honda has long been conducting research into the development of hydrogen production and supply systems for a hydrogen-based society of the future,” Mr. Mizuno said. “To have the Home Energy Station available locally is a really exciting prospect and would see Honda leading the way and launching emission free cars, like the Honda FCX Clarity, in Australia.”
If Honda built the Home Energy Stations like they build their cars, they will last a few decades and never breakdown, so the prospects are making us a little too excited but the reality and practicality and of course, the cost of the technology is still uncertain.
Nonetheless, would you consider a Home Energy Station from Honda to not only power your new FCX, but also provide your house with electricity and hot water?