“It’s key to ensure that no-one gets left behind in the transition to 100% zero emission vehicles by 2035, and hydrogen is an immediately transferable technology for this.”
That was a key message from Teresa Cooke, Executive Director of the California Hydrogen Coalition when she recently sat down with H2 View to discuss California’s journey to net zero and the role the coalition hopes to play.
Active since 2019, the California Hydrogen Coalition holds a vast amount of industry experience, and with such knowledge, has built some impressive partnerships with some major companies.
“Our founders which include Toyota, Shell, Air Liquide and FirstElement Fuel recognised that we [California] needed to have a consistent voice in the capital community on the behalf of hydrogen.” She explained. “Those players definitely bring a lot of creditability to the value of hydrogen technology and that is great.”
Flash forward to the present day and the Coalition has grown its support, with SoCalGas, Linde, Nel, Toyota and Nikola now all being companies the group regularly works with, along with many, many others.
The future is bright
2021 is arguably going to be bigger and better for California as it continues on from the great momentum that 2020 set in place. A landmark year for the state, last year (2020) really shone a light on what can be achieved, and the benefits hydrogen can provide the sunshine state with.
As avid readers of H2 View, as well as hydrogen-focused news would know, 2020 saw California’s city of Lancaster stating plans to become the US’ first hydrogen city, legislation announced for only zero emission vehicles to be available by 2030 and millions of dollars-worth of funding to be set aside for hydrogen station developments.
The above are just three of the multiple announcements that the California Hydrogen Coalition, as well as many others, supported as a new journey towards carbon neutrality was kickstarted.
With a focus on the coalition, H2 View asked Cooke just what the coalition’s role in the transition is and what it is about hydrogen that has both them so convinced as the fuel of the future.
“Our first goal is to be a resource to policymakers, first and foremost. Hydrogen has been around for a very long time, but not like it is right now, and so we can’t take for granted that anybody is an expert,” she explained.
“The second is to ensure that as California develops its zero emission vehicle strategy, that it does so in a technology neutral way, so we’re able to capture as many Californian drivers as possible.”
Speaking specifically about hydrogen’s role in the zero emission strategy, Cooke added, “I think the convenience that gasoline customers have with the current fuelling systems makes me hopeful for the transition into fuel cell electric vehicles
“For me, the fuelling set-up of hydrogen is one of most compelling reasons folks are so committed to the technology.”
The rising private sector
Among many other things in the hydrogen sector, California is well known for its leadership in hydrogen refuelling station developments. Boasting 44 operational stations at the time of publication, the state’s network is being built out by the likes of Shell, FirstElement Fuel and others.
“In California the private sector is stepping up in a really big way, and that’s a great way to build out alternative fuelling infrastructure. it’s great that we have this requirement to have 100% zero emission vehicles, but we need to look forward to the second hurdle which is developing the infrastructure.”
Speaking about the budgets that have been announced to further support infrastructure developments, Cooke said, “The $1bn for fuelling infrastructure is really exciting and intriguing because without infrastructure to support vehicles of all sizes we fail. So, it’s great to see this big, significant investment that Newsom has launched to support the build out of infrastructure.”
“The trick for us now will be to ensure that hydrogen is fairly included in the program and we’re going to have to work that out with the legislature this year.”
In addition to legislation already revealed by the California Government, the California Hydrogen Coalition is supporting legislation which will require renewable and zero carbon hydrogen into the transportation space.
“We’re going to be involved in the renewable hydrogen standard requiring 60% of hydrogen be renewable and then remaining 40% be from a mix of zero carbon and renewable sources,” Cooke explained.
“It is important for this industry to demonstrate that not only are these zero emission vehicles, but the fuel itself can be zero emission and clean. Tied to that piece of legislation will be a series of tax credits for production, station development and distribution.”
“This piece of legislation begins to answer the question of what needs to be done in order to make hydrogen in California self-sufficient, because that’s something we’re working towards, a technology that can be self-sufficient within the next decade.”