There has been some talk in the past couple of months about hydrogen cities or at the very least geographic hydrogen clusters of cars and fueling stations within these very large cities. The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has advocated that clusters of cars and hydrogen fueling stations in particular large cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC be put up first so that drivers don’t have to wander the roads too far looking for a fill up.
And, besides hydrogen cars, other vehicles like hydrogen buses, forklifts and airport transport and baggage carts can also be cluttered around fueling stations in the same geographic regions. The stations also must be accessible and multi-purpose to service all these different kinds of vehicles.
Earlier this year, General Motors starting rollout out its Equinox fuel cell vehicles as part of the Project Driveway program in this cluster arrangement to the cities I’ve already stated. But, whether you call these clusters or hydrogen cities, is this not a limit that will frustrate many of the drivers who just want to hit the road, Jack?
This week, while I was listening to one of the National Hydrogen Association’s (NHA) webinars titled “Hydrogen Stations and Vehicles: The Next Phase” there was a modification to this cluster plan that would give drivers more freedom on the open road.
The point of clusters is to match up hydrogen cars and fueling stations in key locations such as the Los Angeles area. But, suppose the drivers have a little wanderlust and want to get out of town for the weekend? According to the “cluster-plus” plan additional hydrogen stations would also need to be in key tourist destinations (using Los Angeles as an example again) in cities such as San Diego, Las Vegas and San Francisco, plus midway points along the way (destination corridors).
Larry Burns of General Motors has spoken about clusters in the past and this has been modified a bit by GM’s Britta Gross. For a cost of $10 to $15 billion, we could put up 12,000 hydrogen fueling stations nationwide, which will present approximately 70-percent coverage. This means the top 100 U. S. metro areas will have hydrogen stations spaced two miles apart and rural areas will have hydrogen stations spaced not more than 25 miles apart.
Many thanks to Catherine Dunwoody, Executive Director of the California Fuel Cell Partnership and to Britta Gross, Manager of Hydrogen and Electrical Infrastructure Commercialization for General Motors for speaking about these important issues at the webinar.
It is through this kind of creative, strategic and analytical thinking that we will be able to solve the chicken-or-egg phenomenon in regard to the rollout of hydrogen cars and stations in a rational, logical and necessary manner.