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Hydrogen Fuel Prices at the Pump and Costs to Consumers

Last week I talked about the price of converting fossil fueled vehicles into H2ICE cars. So, this week I thought I would follow up and talk about the price at the pump of hydrogen fuel to consumers.

Right now, consumers can convert their own cars, trucks and other vehicles to run on hydrogen. Or they can become a part of Project Driveway and test drive a vehicle for free for several months or they can become part of the Honda FCX Clarity program and lease a hydrogen fuel cell car for around $600 per month.

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself driving a hydrogen car, the first question you may ask is about where you would go to find a hydrogen fueling station. This hydrogen fuel locator page lists several resources that will aid in this endeavor.

Another question frequently asked is how much does a person pay at the pump for compressed hydrogen fuel? Now, this has nothing to do with the costs to produce hydrogen as this is a whole different discussion, too lengthy to take on here.

But, since I was curious about the price at the pump charged for compressed hydrogen gas I made a few phone calls, sent a few emails and even Tweeted in order to take a survey.

According to the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) listed in Twitter, “In CA, you can’t sell hydrogen as a retail fuel. The regulations 2 allow retail sales are expected to be complete within the next 18 months.”

So I asked about the hydrogen fueling station in Irvine, California (which at least a couple of years ago when I was there) had a posted price of $4.99 per kilogram (equivalent to a gallon), and CaFCP replied, “The price is there as an educational tool to show what the cost of h2 can be and to give the station a realistic feel.”

So, I decided to call the West Los Angeles Shell Station, which is a regular gas station in Santa Monica, California that also has a hydrogen pump. I asked Nely Lopez, who works at the station what the price is at the pump and he told me that for now hydrogen is free, but he doesn’t know how long it will stay this way.

Since Shell has U. S. hydrogen fueling stations in California, New York and Washington, DC I decided to call their national headquarters in Houston, Texas to see if hydrogen fuel was free at all Shell stations nationwide.

I talked to Jerry Wilt who said he was in charge of the Shell Hydrogen program. He told me that hydrogen fuel was indeed free right now at all of the Shell hydrogen fueling stations and pumps while they were in the demo phase. He didn’t know how long this phase would last, however.

But, though I did find out that hydrogen fuel was free at these stations, I also found out that free hydrogen was not true for all stations in the U. S. When I contacted Tony Lindsay, R&D Manager, Hydrogen and Advanced Technology, he told me a different story for his hydrogen pump.

Mr. Lindsay told me about his hydrogen station in Des Plaines, Illinois just outside of Chicago, “We have set the price at $3.49 per kg because this was our calculated goal of production from our on-site small scale steam methane reformer (based on $0.60 per therm natural gas).”

Because hydrogen fuel cell cars and refueling stations are considered emerging technologies right now, there is no across the board standardization in the U. S. marketplace. Whereas hydrogen fuel prices at the pump in one location may be free, another one may charge. This will work itself in the months and years to come as hydrogen used as fuel becomes more standardized and more of a norm and less of a demonstration as it is right now.

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen car blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen cars, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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8 comments

  1. admin

    Here’s an email update I received from Tara who is in charge of one of the New York state hydrogen stations:

    Hi Kevin,

    Thanks so much for reaching out. Unfortunately, I do not have a simple answer to your question at this time. Since we produce our own hydrogen on-site, our fuel cost is strictly based on operating costs. Our vehicles that will be utilizing the station have not yet arrived, so we do not have any real data on the actual operating electricity costs for the station yet.

    One of our goals for this project is to analyze all of these types of data points. I will keep you informed as we have more information.

    If you would like to discuss anything further, please do not hesitate to call.

    Best regards,
    Tara

    Tara Schneider
    Conservation Biologist
    Town of Hempstead
    Department of Conservation & Waterways
    Point Lookout, NY 11569

  2. If it is suppose to be more affordable, Then why would it cost more then gas does today?

  3. admin

    Right now these are demonstration pumps. Some are free, some cost $4.99 per kilogram, so there is no standard pricing. But, you have to remember that a fuel cell vehicle is more than twice as efficient as a gasoline powered car.

    So, for instance if a fuel cell vehicle like the Honda Clarity gets 68 mpg this is twice the mpg’s of the average car. Thus the $4.99 per kilogram price is equivalent to less than $2.50 per gallon of gasoline.

  4. It’s an oxymoron going from Oil barons to Hydrogen barons. Charging 3.50 a gallon (equal to gas) for hydrogen when WATER can be easily converted by electrolysis. Need proof? Type in on YouTube:

    2004 Dodge truck runs on water

    He created a new HIGH output hydrogen generator which produces over 50 lpm; they have been selling units for years on E-Bay that produce 4-5 lpm. This message will probably be erased due to skeptics, but unless you build one and test it. How can you know?

    He provides the plans for FREE as open source!

  5. The price per gallon at most Shell Gas Stations is $3.49 for hydrogen in Cali now as of May 30th. This is slightly cheaper than most Petroleum gas and gives twice more milege. Also the only emission from it is water. H2O. It is much smarter than average cars.

  6. this is not a good source

  7. David Henry, electrolysis requires energy to split the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. It’s an inefficient process. You do not get as much energy out of the burning fuel than you put into the electrolysis. The Universe is lazy, and that’s the basic nature of energy in physics — what you put in, you will not get out.

    You’re better off using whatever fuel you use for the electrolysis process to power the car. For instance, if you’re using a battery to perform the electrolysis process, then you’re better off running the car off of the battery itself.

    The reason that corporations can look realistically at compressed hydrogen is because they have the entire power grid — a much cheaper and abundant alternative than you could ever fit onto a vehicle — which gets its power from many sources other than foreign fossil fuels which includes natural gas, nuclear, coal, hydro, wind, etc. Even with the energy loss in the process used to create the compressed hydrogen, it’s cheaper than today’s gas prices. It’s also a more environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels.

  8. Hydro Kevin Kantola

    I’ve gotten an April 16, 2015 update about the prices at the pump in Germany and the European Union in general. This is from the Linde Group who install many such stations, “Hello, to answer your question, prices are varying, but EUR 9.50 per kg is a good average Hope it helps ! Have a good day.”

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