It’s 2004 and Arnold Schwarzenegger, then governor of California in the US, has just pulled up at the University of California, Davis’s (UC Davis) new hydrogen station in a fuel cell car. It’s the first publicly accessible station in California and Schwarzenegger refuels the hydrogen-powered car becoming the first member of the general public to use it. Declaring “this starts a new era for clean California transportation”, Schwarzenegger then signed an executive order to create a hydrogen transportation network throughout California by 2010 – a ‘hydrogen highway’.
Whilst California has very much been the frontrunner for hydrogen station and fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) deployments, today that ‘hydrogen highway’ just stretches outside of the sunshine state and into the wider nation, with some stations available in Canada too. According to the US Department of Energy, there are 51 hydrogen refuelling stations open to the public in the US today, the majority of which are in California, and five stations open to the public in Canada. Hydrogen mobility is in its beginning stages, but North America has big plans for this market.
Road Map to a US Hydrogen Economy sets out plans for 150,000 light and heavy-duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and 1,000 hydrogen stations by 2025, increasing to 1.2 million FCEVs and 4,300 stations by 2030. Two decades later (2050), the report envisions that three out of ten vehicles on the road are FCEVs, and the hydrogen economy represents 68 million metric tons of hydrogen consumed every year.
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