New OEM Vehicles as State Backs Fueling Infrastructure:
Fuel Cell ZEVs Will Offer Better Range and Faster Fueling,
California Needs Both Types to Meet Its Long-Range Goals
Behind-the-scenes work appears to have paid off as vehicle manufacturers are readying a new generation of hydrogen vehicles – and the state of California is putting serious money into a planned fueling infrastructure. It’s all with the goal having fuel cells take their place beside batteries as California targets 1.5 million zero emission vehicles by 2025.
Fuel cell vehicles offer the inherent advantages of longer range and faster fueling, taking the driver experience closer to that of conventional cars as compared with battery EVs, officials heard at a California Go-Biz workshop this past Thursday in San Jose.
The OEMs Daimer-Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota sent speakers to the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles in California: A Briefing for Local Officials workshop.
$46.6 Million for 28 Hydrogen Fueling Stations
The infrastructure providers Air Liquide and Linde sent speakers too, as did FirstElement Fuel, a major recipient of California Energy Commission funding that’s building stations in league with Toyota. California fire and measurements and standards officials participated in the Go-Biz workshop’s infrastructure session too.
CEC recently affirmed $46.6 million for 28 hydrogen fueling stations and one mobile fueler in California (F&F, July 23).
“This is the most progressive effort in the United States,” said John Goia of the California Air Resources Board and Bay Area Air Quality Management District. “We are at the front lines.”
With fuel cells, “We’re looking to replicate the success that the Prius and that sort of vehicle has had,” said Floyd Vergara, also of CARB. Combustion technology has reached its limits, he said: “We need to go to zero emission vehicles and we need a lot of them.”
‘This Technology Is Ready’
Toyota brought “the actual production vehicle” that’s to go on sale first in Japan and then in the U.S. next year. “This technology is ready. It’s real,” said Craig Scott, national manager for advanced technology with Toyota Motor Sales USA.
“We’re finally ready to sell a car,” Scott said. And, “For this car we need to develop a new infrastructure and this happens at the local level.”
Steve Ellis of Honda pledged that Honda’s new hydrogen vehicle will have a fuel cell powerful enough that the entire system can fit under the hood, as it does in a gasoline car. He and others emphasized that fuel cell cars will have range capabilities and fueling times similar to gasoline cars – leaving behind the fundamental limitations of battery electrics.
FirstElement Taps Black & Veatch
Shane Stephens of FirstElement Fuel noted that his firm, which is taking a “network approach” to the establishment of a hydrogen fueling infrastructure – FirstElement has the lion’s share of the CEC funding: $2.9 million for two 100% renewable-based hydrogen stations in Los Angeles, and $24.7 million for 17 others – has teamed with Black & Veatch to build the stations.
A release issued Tuesday states that Black & Veatch will handle permitting, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for all 19 FirstElement station, and that all will be completed next year.
Linde hydrogen fueling VP Mike Beckman emphasized his firm’s long experience in building hydrogen stations, as well as the fuel’s inherent safety when compared to gasoline. State officials discussed recent changes to fire safety codes making it easier to get permits for hydrogen fueling stations, and work to regularize the measurement of hydrogen, making it legal for sale.
Hydrogen Will Be Sold by the Kilogram
Hydrogen will be sold by the kilogram, all agreed. Steve Ellis of Honda noted that the energy content of a kilogram of hydrogen is roughly equivalent to a gallon of gasoline, making consumer comparisons easy. Hydrogen cars are expected to be able to travel two to three time farther, however, due to their fundamental efficiencies.
Linde reiterated today that it has been awarded $4.3 million by the CEC to build retail hydrogen fueling stations at the Oakland International Airport and on Toyota-owned property in San Ramon, adjacent to a Toyota regional office and parts distribution center.
Aaron Harris of Air Liquide explained why top executives of his large company have committed to hydrogen. If just 10% of the world’s vehicles were fuel cell vehicles, he said, the hydrogen market alone would be double the size of the entire industrial gases market. That’s why, he said, “There’s a stomach for the long ball.”
Cal Go-Biz is the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.
Fleets & Fuels editor Rich Piellisch moderated the OEM session at this past Thursday’s workshop.
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Source: Fleets & Fuels at Go-Biz hydrogen workshop in San Jose, Calif.