IF YOU look very, very hard on the roads of Scotland, you won’t see many hydrogen refuelling stations.
Yet car manufacturers are investing billions in developing new cars, vans and lorries that can use this green source of fuel.
What do they know that we don’t?
Firstly, they know that hydrogen is clean. You can make it from renewably generated electricity, something we produce a lot of in Scotland.
I learned that, at times, 60 per cent of Scotland’s national electricity needs come from renewable sources such as solar panels and wind turbines.
I also learned that we have a target to produce 100 per cent of our electricity from renewables by 2020.
Hydrogen is a clever way of storing the electricity when we produce more than we need.
By passing the electricity through water, hydrogen gas is made, which, when put under pressure, becomes a liquid.
“Too much science,” I hear you cry. I shall move on!
I recently spent a couple of days with some of Scotland’s leading experts in hydrogen fuel cells and with the revolutionary Toyota Mirai. It is the first time this hydrogen powered car has ever been seen in Scotland.
It’s a normal-looking car and, if you didn’t know, you’d think it was a “normal” car.
The Mirai was launched in Japan and is becoming a fairly regular sight on their streets, and there are 144 operating in California.
Toyota have plans to sell 30,000 a year worldwide by 2020.
The great thing about hydrogen is that you can drive a long way before needing to refuel.
The Mirai can do 312 miles between refills and a complete top up from empty can be done in about four minutes.
Honda will launch the Clarity in California this year with a range of 400 miles on one tank of hydrogen.
The only by-product of burning hydrogen is a little water. There are no nasty impacts on air quality, so we can all breath easy.
The technology is expensive just now, with the Mirai coming in at a list price of £66,000.
However, that price will come down as more people buy them. Hydrogen will be big in motoring.