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California Fuel Cell Partnership sets out plan for future hydrogen infrastructure

The California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) has released an action plan that details a strategy for deploying hydrogen fueling stations and fuel cell vehicles in California. The document, 'Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and station deployment plan: A strategy for meeting the challenge ahead', specifies the steps needed to meet the fuel needs of 4300 passenger vehicles and 20 fuel cell buses in California by 2014, and prepares for even more growth though to 2017.

The plan calls for 46 retail hydrogen fueling stations in six key California communities, at a cost of about $180 million over four years. The government is to contribute $120 million towards this amount, while the remainder will come from industry.

‘By 2017, automotive manufacturers plan to place 50 000 zero-emission fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) in customer hands,’ explains Catherine Dunwoody, executive director of the California Fuel Cell Partnership. ‘FCVs will provide the performance, durability, driving range and comfort that customers want, and meet the nation’s need for a domestic fuel that is better for the environment.’

The California action plan focuses on three main areas. This first involves developing early ‘hydrogen communities’ for passenger vehicles, with clusters of retail hydrogen stations in Santa Monica, Irvine, Torrance and Newport Beach, with additional stations to support the communities identified next and a network of connector stations.

It also calls for the transit program in the San Francisco Bay Area to be expanded, with new mixed-use stations, which provide fuel for passenger vehicles and transit buses, and dedicated retail hydrogen stations for passenger vehicles.

Thirdly, it emphasizes the importance of developing codes, standards and regulations, with a state-of-the-art hydrogen station in the Sacramento area that will enable regulatory agencies to validate new test procedures as well as provide fuel for passenger vehicles in the region.

To date, 250 demonstration vehicles – passenger cars and transit buses – have been placed on the roads in California. They fuel at 26 hydrogen stations in the state. Most of these are small stations built to fuel a specific fleet of cars for a limited period. Only six of California’s current stations are usable by all the car-makers and their customers. California will need 50–100 hydrogen stations in just eight years, which will require the collaborative efforts of multiple industry and government entities.

Meanwhile, a Toyota FCHV-adv fuel cell car has recently been added to the CaFCP fleet of zero-emission vehicles, joining a Daimler F-Cell and Chevy Equinox FCV. Partnership staff will use the sport utility vehicle in its outreach program, and also take turns using it for both business and personal trips.

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