Hydrogen - Fuelling the Zero Emission Drive in the Golden State
Posted on May 23, 2014
California has long been a global leader in the adoption of new zero-emission technology - the state's Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) programme for example, requires vehicle manufacturers to offer specific numbers of the cleanest car technologies available for sale, specifically hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)and has been designed to achieve long-term emission reduction goals.
ZEV regulation was first adopted in California in 1990 and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Advanced Clean Cars Program requires that over 10% of new vehicle sales are electric drive by 2025.In March of 2012, Governor Jerry Brown, signed an executive order that established a goal of 1.5 million ZEVs on California's roadways also by 2025.
Major automotive manufacturers such as Toyota and Hyundai have stated that they intend to make their FCEVs available to the motoring public from 2014/15. The car manufacturers are likely to first launch their fuel cell vehicles in geographies where plans to put in place hydrogen refuelling infrastructure are most advanced. These include Germany, Japan, Scandinavia, the UK, Korea and of course, California.
On the 1st of May, the California Energy Commission announced that it will invest $46.6 million to accelerate the development of publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations in California in order to promote a consumer market for zero-emission fuel cell vehicles.The funding will progress the Governor's executive order directing the state government to support and facilitate the rapid commercialisation of ZEVs in California, with a benchmark that the state's zero-emission vehicle infrastructure will be able to support up to one million vehicles by 2020.The funding has been made to eight applicants through the Energy Commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), and includes six 100% renewable hydrogen refueling stations. It will add a further 28 new refueling stations across the state: 13 in Northern California and 15 in Southern California, strategically situated to create a refueling network along major corridors and in regional centres. In addition, a mobile refueller will provide added reliability to the early hydrogen refueling network by providing refueling capability when stations are off-line.
These 28 new hydrogen refueling stations are in addition to the nine existing refueling locations and the 17 stations currently under development in California and will bring the total up to 54. This is a significant milestone for the initiative, which aims to establish a total 100-station network across the state to support the full commercialisation of fuel cell vehicles.
Interestingly, it also recently emerged that Toyota itself is not just involved in the manufacture and introduction of FCEVs, but is also directly contributing to the development of a hydrogen fuel infrastructure in California by injecting at least $7.2 million in First Element Fuel, a company planning to operate pumps and sell hydrogen for passenger cars.
As a further part of its drive towards increased numbers of ZEVs and to advance hydrogen transportation, the California Energy Commission and Air Resources Board announced at the end of April that the state of California itself has joined H2 USA. This is a public-private partnership led by the U.S. Department of Energy focused on establishing a hydrogen fueling infrastructure and accelerating the commercialization of FCEVs.
As the above recent developments demonstrate, the move towards zero-emission technology for transport is gathering pace in California with refuelling infrastructure to enable the commercialisation of fuel cell electric vehicles beginning to take shape. California is once again taking a leading role in making zero-emission vehicles a practical and large scale reality.