California Plans For A Hydrogen Future

Apr 15 2014, 6:20pm CDT | by

California Plans For A Hydrogen Future
Photo Credit: Forbes Auto

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Gather In California

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development for the State of California (nicknamed “GO-Biz”) held an event at the Toyota USA Automobile Museum yesterday. The topic was “Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles and Infrastructure in Your Neighborhood: A state and local workshop.” After opening remarks, approximately 150 attendees from automotive manufacturers, state and local government, fire departments, technology suppliers, molecule providers and a smattering of media outlets listened to a keynote speech from Hector De La Torre, a member of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), followed by two panel discussions and closing remarks. Attendees then had the opportunity to drive five examples of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on public roads near Toyota’s Torrance headquarters.

The thrust of the meeting was to address the chicken-and-egg status of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Until there’s enough infrastructure to support hydrogen refueling, consumers will be unlikely to embrace the technology. Until consumers are ready to embrace the technology, manufacturers will be unable to achieve the economies of scale that will bring prices to reasonable levels. On the infrastructure side, investors are unwilling to build and install fueling stations until there’s more demand. That’s the chicken-and-egg scenario.

The California Fuel Cell Partnership seeks to bring all of the interested parties together to make an omelet. Because the technology is unfamiliar to many city managers, zoning authorities, inspectors and fire officials, they are sometimes unclear about whether to enforce the same rules on hydrogen fueling stations as they do on gasoline and diesel stations. By opening lines of communication, the CAFCP hopes to facilitate more rapid opening of proposed new stations, and appropriate adjustment to existing local regulations.

Currently, California is the leader in hydrogen fueling. Still, the network of stations is sparse. According to Hector De La Torre’s speech, there are 9 public stations currently in operation in California today, with 19 additional stations scheduled to open in the next 18 months. There are 200 fuel cell vehicles operating on California roads, including cars, busses and heavy-duty trucks. Last May, the US Department of Energy launched H2USA, a public-private partnership devoted to expanding the hydrogen fueling infrastructure, but despite the nationwide scope, California remains the focal point.

Five auto manufacturers were represented on the Automotive OEM Panel, which was moderated by Bloomberg's Alan Ohnsman. General Motors sent Alex Keros, Manager and Senior Project Engineer. Honda’s Manager of FCEV Marketing Stephen Ellis, a visible and vocal proponent of hydrogen, represented his company. Fuel Cell Engineer Kevin Lee spoke on behalf of Hyundai. Ronald Grassman, Mercedes-Benz’s US FCEV Operations General Manager, stood in for the German brand, and Craig Scott, National Manager of Toyota’s Advance Technologies Group, represented the host company. Despite the highly competitive nature of the automotive industry, a surprising level of collegiality and cooperation reigns among the OEMs’ hydrogen fuel cell efforts. For example, manufacturers have collaborated to create a standardized filling valve, simplifying the issue of compatibility from filling station to filling station and vehicle to vehicle. The hydrogen filling station adjacent to Toyota’s national headquarters in Torrance welcomes all brands of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for refueling. The OEMs recognize that in order for the technology to flourish, barriers for suppliers to service all brands with hydrogen must not be erected.

At the close of the event, attendees lined up for the opportunity to drive the five brands of hydrogen vehicle on hand. For drivers who were raised on the gasoline internal combustion engine, fuel cell vehicles are magical and surprising. Their near-silent operation belies the thrill of instant peak torque. With tailpipe emissions limited to pure H2O — just plain old water mist — hydrogen fuel cell vehicles seem like an obvious solution to air quality issues. Critics point out that the journey of hydrogen from well to wheels is not without its energy costs, even if the trip from tank to wheels is highly efficient. The same is true of the electricity that must be harnessed for battery electric vehicles. But still, the efficiency and cleanliness of the hydrogen and electric powertrains is still much greater than the traditional petroleum-based solutions.

The California Fuel Cell Partnership is convinced that hydrogen is the future of transportation, and they are slowly gaining supporters in government and industry to make their conviction into a reality. They are also confident that consumers will come along, just as soon as the economics, convenience and safety issues reach parity with traditional transportation options. It’s hard to argue, and harder to find a reason to dissent.

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
Our sister site I4U News is giving away a brand new iPad Air or if you can wait an iPad Air 2. This is an $499 value.
 
 
Your Parent Or Kid Moved In: Are You Covered?
A record 57 million Americans now live in multigenerational family households — double the number in 1980, according to a new Pew Research Center study. And I bet many of them have the wrong homeowner’s or renters...
 
 
Pandora Looks to Challenge Terrestrial Radio's Dominance in Cars
Pandora Media is one of the largest Internet radio providers in the U.S. with more than 75 million active users. While the company’s active user count has increased at a robust pace historically, it is likely to slow...
 
 
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
It’s January 2026. New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner gets out of his driverless car and triumphantly marches before the gathered press to introduce his prized new free agent. It’s a record-breaking contract—over...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Rihanna approached for Bond movie?
Los Angeles, Sep 29 (IANS) Singer Rihanna has reportedly been approached for a cameo in the upcoming Bond film. The "We found love" hitmaker is said to be excited to appear in the spy thriller, reports contactmusic....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard calls on Modi
New York, Sep 29 (IANS) Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu American in the US Congress, called on visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi here Sunday and presented him with a ginger flower garland from Hawaii....
Read more on Politics Balla
 
143 killed in clashes against IS in Iraq
Baghdad, Sep 29 (IANS) A total of 143 people were killed Sunday in the ongoing clashes between the Iraqi security forces and militants, including of the the Islamic State (IS), security sources said. In Anbar province...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Quake in Peru kills eight
Lima, Sep 29 (IANS) At least eight people were killed and six injured following a 5.1-magnitude earthquake which jolted southern parts of Peru, authorities said Sunday. The temblor hit Paruro province in the Andean...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Bieber swaps 'bad influence' for cookbooks
Los Angeles, Sep 29 (IANS) Singer Justin Bieber has reportedly taken the decision to give up alcohol and "bad influence" friends. According to sources, the wild-child "Baby" hitmaker, now 20, has grown up and swapped...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Will build India of your dreams, join in our effort: Modi to Indians abroad (Intro Roundup)
New York, Sep 29 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi connected with thousands of rapturously cheering Indian diaspora at Madison Square Garden here Sunday, promising them he would deliver on the electoral...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
David McIntosh hits back at Kelly Brook
David McIntosh insists there a ''two sides'' to his split from Kelly Brook. The former 'Gladiator' - who split from the brunette beauty, 34, earlier this week amid claims he had remained close to his ex-girlfriend...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Modi invites diaspora to 'Make in India', help clean Ganga
New York, Sep 29 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday invited Indians abroad to join the "Make in India" initiative, saying the country aimed to show its strength by exploiting technology to the maximum extent...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Indians have woven magic with the mouse: Modi at Madison Square
New York, Sep 28 (IANS) India was once known as a world of snake charmers, now the magic that its people have woven "with the mouse" in the IT sphere is world-renowned, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi here Sunday. "...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Modi announces lifelong visas for Indian diaspora
New York, Sep 29 (IANS) Amid cheers from thousands of Indian-Americans, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday announced several measures to ease travel to their motherland including life-long visas. "Happy?" he asked...
Read more on Politics Balla