California could have 100 hydrogen stations by end of 2023, says CARB
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California could have 100 hydrogen stations by end of 2023, says CARB

California could meet its goal of having 100 hydrogen stations by the end of 2023, says the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in its annual report.

CARB also says California is expected to have more than 176 open retail hydrogen stations by 2026 which would be enough fuelling capacity for around 250,000 fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in the state.

For comparison, the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) reports that almost 11,200 fuel cell cars have been sold and leased in the US as of September 1, with 48 hydrogen stations open.

CARB said car manufacturers have responded positively to this reinforced outlook for fuelling network development, though “many additional factors contribute in varying degree to auto manufacturers’ deployment decisions”.

“Auto manufacturers’ zero emission vehicle deployment plans would result in 61,100 FCEVs on the road by the end of 2027, after accounting for estimated vehicle retirements. This would be approximately one quarter of the 250,000 FCEVs the planned fuelling network could ultimately support,” CARB said in the report.

“Long-term projections, mostly in optional survey reporting periods, have consistently been higher than actual FCEV sales. In order to further accelerate the future growth of the FCEV population, multiple barriers to adoption will need to be overcome, including limited model availability, high FCEV prices, high hydrogen fuel prices and limited consumer awareness.”

CARB highlighted low station reliability has emerged as a serious concern in recent months affecting today’s drivers which could become a barrier to further FCEV adoption if left unaddressed.

“Individual and groups of stations have at times been unavailable for customer fuelling due to a variety of reasons including hydrogen supply chain disruptions and equipment performance and reliability issues,” CARB said in the report.

“Some relief is expected by the end of 2021 and early 2022 as more resources for hydrogen production and delivery will come online. Still, station reliability is a concern that will require near-term and long-term solutions to minimise negative experiences for today’s drivers and ensure this does not become a barrier to further FCEV adoption.”

Read more: Educating California and the world on the benefits of hydrogen-powered transportation, Energy Independence Now tells H2 View how its vital work pivoted during Covid-19

Read more: North America’s hydrogen highway

Analysis published recently by CARB demonstrates the potential for California’s hydrogen station network to achieve financial self-sufficiency by 2030.

“Key factors to achieve self-sufficiency include the pace of station development and operation cost reductions, FCEV deployment rates, and state support,” the report said.

“In some respects, the network development now planned for California is similar to a path that achieves self-sufficiency as long as FCEV deployment continues to accelerate in the future.

“Network development and FCEV deployment beyond the current plans are key factors that will have a significant role in eventually reaching that goal.”

CARB said today’s hydrogen network development plans are unprecedented in California’s history and a major milestone in supporting zero-emission vehicle deployment.

“Early goals for the fuelling network and FCEV market may be within reach. With the completion of 176 total hydrogen fuelling stations and acceleration of FCEV deployment, California will be well on its way to developing a viable market for FCEVs as a strategic component of meeting the state’s zero emission vehicle deployment targets,” CARB said.

Coming soon

Keep an eye out for an exclusive interview with Shell on its hydrogen station deployment in California, coming soon to H2 View.

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