The Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia is opening its first hydrogen fueling station next week. The U. S. DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will be installing the H2 fueling station as a test and research facility.
The airport is getting several hydrogen vehicles to test from the DOE and they will also be working in conjunction with the local 130th Air wing of the Air National Guard. The hydrogen production and fueling station will use an “open architecture” approach that will encourage further development.
The open architecture approach will use off-the-shelf components for simplicity’s sake helping others to replicate the design. In addition, the fueling station will help universities, businesses and entrepreneurs swap in and test new technology.
One of the stated goals of this project is to prove that compressed hydrogen gas can be cost competitive with gasoline prices. The downside for environmentalists is that the hydrogen will be produced with electricity from the grid using coal-fired power plants (what else would one expect from West Virginia).
The upside is that hydrogen will be produced at off-peak times for around $5 per kilogram (equivalent to a gallon). This means that a vehicle such as the Toyota Highlander Hydrogen FCHV ADV that I talked about last week, which gets 68 mpg would have the same price tag of around $2.50 of gasoline for a vehicle getting 34 mpg.
Another stated goal for this project is that it will create the first leg of a hydrogen corridor running from Charlestown, WV to Morgantown, WV to Pittsburgh, PA. Interstate highway 79 connects all three cities. This corridor may also expand one day to Washington DC and New York where current H2 stations are already located.