Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve talked about the California Air Resources Board (CARB) requirement for automakers to build a certain number of hydrogen cars in the state. I’ve also talked about General Motor’s frustration with the lack of hydrogen fueling stations now operational as well as the lack of stations planned in the future.
More recently, Honda and Toyota have also become vocal about the lack of parity between the requirement of hydrogen cars and the lack of requirement of hydrogen stations to be built. California currently has 25 hydrogen stations that are operational. GM’s Larry Burns would like all major metropolitan areas in the state to have a number of stations including at least 100 for the Los Angeles area.
Bloomberg.com quotes Burns as saying, “To not drive the infrastructure equally aggressively to marry up with that is a little perplexing. We have not accomplished anything if the auto industry builds 7,500 ZEV products in 2012 through 2014 and they sit in driveways and parking lots.”
Steve Ellis who manages the Honda fuel-cell vehicle leasing program for the U. S. market says he is also frustrated with the lack of stations. This summer, Honda will start rolling out somewhere between 10 and 100 of its FCX Clarity fuel cell cars in the Los Angeles area, but customers will have very few choices on where to refuel.
Toyota’s Fuel Cell Project Manager Katsuhiko Hirose spoke at the National Hydrogen Association (NHA) conference in Sacramento and said that it was feasible for automakers to overcome all obstacles in their pathway now preventing hydrogen cars from rolling out, except one. Like Larry Burns before him, Hirose said that automakers cannot roll out hydrogen fueling stations and he calls for the energy companies and government to come together to solve this issue.
Even though this news outlet got the number of hydrogen stations currently in the state factually incorrect, the Daily Democrat has an interesting take on the fueling station dilemma, “The poor response is largely due to rules put in place by the Democratic-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Schwarzenegger.
“To get the funding, stations must use 33 percent renewable fuels and cut greenhouse-gas emissions 30 percent compared with gasoline. It takes energy to turn hydrogen into fuel. Ideally, solar, wind and other renewable sources should be used. But, the most common way of producing hydrogen fuel is extracting it from natural gas – not as pure as solar or wind, but far cleaner than using petroleum. So insisting on environmental purity is a case of the perfect making an enemy of the possible.”
Government has the ability to nurture new technology, but it also has the ability to stunt its growth. Stunting the growth of the developing hydrogen car and fueling technology will mean less jobs, less business growth, more pollution, higher gasoline prices, more dependence upon foreign energy and is just a bad deal for the citizens looking for a healthier and more prosperous future. It’s time for the responsible government parties and the hydrogen fueling station builders to get together and make the infrastructure happen. The benefits far outweigh the bickering.