Sometimes when I read the news, I get a “not in my neighborhood” feeling when it comes to hydrogen development. I’m chomping at the bit for hydrogen technology to become normalized to the point where I can have casual discussions about it with my neighbors as I would any other topic such as the price of gasoline going up again and the unrest happening in the Middle East (which of course is connected).
I live in the Inland Empire area of Southern California which is east of both Los Angeles and San Diego. The Inland Empire region is composed of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. San Bernardino County itself is larger than the 9 smallest U. S. states and 4 of the states put together, so it covers a vast territory.
In this vast territory I often wonder how hydrogen will make inroads and be mainstreamed locally. The more local new technology is, the more relevant it is right?
So, when I get discouraged I have to remind myself of several facts. First, I’m not that far from Los Angeles and Orange County which are hotbeds for hydrogen car and fueling infrastructure technology. Second, even though the Inland Empire isn’t a hotbed, it isn’t a cold block of ice, either.
In my region, there are 4 hydrogen fueling stations, at least a several hydrogen powered fleet vehicles being tested, a project underway to turn landfill waste into hydrogen, and now one of the local colleges, California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB), which is about 10 miles away from me, will be powered by a large stationary fuel cell starting in 2012.
The 1.4 Mw combined heat and power plant will be built by FuelCell Energy Inc. (and the 5th such college installation in the state) and owned by the Southern California Edison utility company.
And what gives me more hope is that according to CSUSB, “In conjunction with the installation of the power plant, the university is expected to incorporate fuel cell technology into its curriculum to teach students and the public about the benefits of fuel cell power generation. The unit is expected to be operational in early 2012.”
And what gives me an additional spark of hope is that inside the local library, which is powered by solar panels on the rooftop, there is a fuel cell bus exhibit for kids. It’s a little rudimentary, but it basically shows children how garbage can be turned into hydrogen which in turn can power a fuel cell bus that one day they could be driving or riding in.
So, even though I get impatient looking at hydrogen development on a national scale, I need not look further than my own backyard, so to speak, to see that hydrogen power is indeed making inroads. The progress may not be as fast as I would like, but then again every time the price of the barrel of oil goes up, there seems to be a public outcry to move a little faster. Now, why do you suppose that is? 🙂