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A California Road Map

In 2012, CaFCP published A California Road Map: Bringing Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles to the Golden State to answer the chicken-and-egg question. We determined that stations must come before vehicles, and the stations must be customer-friendly locations that are convenient to home and work. The Road Map described the minimum number of hydrogen stations throughout the state that are able to serve thousands of FCEV drivers expected in the early years of commercialization. 

Ideally, hydrogen stations will be co-located at existing gas stations within six minutes of where customers live and work. In addition, consumers will more likely consider replacing their current vehicle with an FCEV when convenient fueling options are available in their favorite weekend destinations, like Palm Springs, Napa and Lake Tahoe.

Where to launch?

Drawing on research and using the latest computer modeling tools, CaFCP members recommend that stations be built in five geographic clusters where the first customers are likely to live. These cluster communities are:

  • Berkeley
  • South San Francisco Bay Area
  • Santa Monica and West LA
  • Torrance and nearby coastal communities
  • Irvine and southern Orange County

Additional “connector” and “destination” stations in cities like Sacramento, Long Beach, Santa Barbara and San Diego will connect the clusters into a regional network while serving as the nuclei for subsequent markets.

Map of Hydrogen Fueling Stations: Existing, In Development
Hydrogen Fueling Stations: Existing, In Development in Southern California
Hydrogen Fueling Stations: Existing, In Development in Southern California

 

Where are we now?

In July, 2014 CaFCP published Hydrogen Progress, Priorities and Opportunities that describes the status of Road Map goals and important next steps and actions. Since the Road Map publication, many automakers have made commercialization and partnership announcements.  Stakeholders have refined and introduced models and frameworks to support commercialization efforts.  The State passed Assembly Bill 8 in late 2013 to ensure programmatic support and funding continuity for hydrogen stations.

HyPPO takes a close look at infrastructure progress.  The report estimates California will have 51 operating hydrogen stations while reaching 100 stations in 2021. HyPPO also discusses quantifiable improvements in cost reductions, investment strategies and station technology since 2012.

FCEV customers need user-friendly, reliable hydrogen stations and an experience similar to fueling with gasoline. Hydrogen stations are becoming more consistent and recent Energy Commission grants prioritized customer considerations and provided O&M funding to address the issue of supporting operational stations. HyPPO suggests 19 priority actions that focus on collecting and using data to coordinate station network growth, communicating station availability to customers, evaluating the effectiveness of O&M grants and using data to expand the market.

Developing codes, standards and regulations to dispense hydrogen and build stations has been, and will continue to be, an ongoing effort. SAESociety of Automotive Engineers and NFPANational Fire Protection Agency published important standards and codes, and others are close to completion. DMS is finishing procedures for testing hydrogen dispensers. Next steps are to finish the codes and standards that will enable the sale of hydrogen and integrate the newly passed standards into station equipment. 

CaFCP and the State of California have been actively preparing communities for hydrogen stations with outreach, education and training. In 2013, Governor Brown’s office published the Zero-Emission Vehicles in California: Community Readiness Guidebook to help California communities plan infrastructure for battery and fuel cell electric vehicles. In early 2014, the governor appointed a Zero Emission Infrastructure Project Manager to further support hydrogen infrastructure and PEV charging development. CaFCP will continue preparing community leaders, city officials, first responders, fuel retailers and future FCEV customers to establish the foundation for successful FCEV commercialization. 

With multiple automakers introducing retail market fuel cell electric vehicles beginning in 2014, continued collaboration is vital to bringing FCEVs and hydrogen stations to the commercial market. A coordinated approach to implementation as described in the report will enable a viable, sustainable hydrogen station network.

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