Paving the way for the so-called Hydrogen Super Highway, California Fuel Cell Partnership released a roadmap that details plans for 46 retail hydrogen fueling stations in six targeted California communities by 2014. Hydrogen is considered to be the holy grail of clean transportation because Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCV) emit only water when driven, but a lack of infrastructure is one of the major roadblocks to this advancement.
"By 2017, automotive manufacturers plan to place 50,000 zero-emission fuel cell vehicles in customer hands. 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," said Catherine Dunwoody, CaFCP's executive director in a press release.
For the moment, only six of the state's 26 hydrogen refueling stations are open to the public. Most are privately owned and operated for corporate fleet or testing vehicles. The CaFCP gave details for the cost of building 40 stations by 2012, which is projected to be $181.5 million and is expected to be funded largely by the government to incentivize the industry to begin the transition to hydrogen.
The limited refueling options is one of the reasons that Honda is leasing its Fuel Cell Vehicle, the Honda FCX Clarity, only to customers in Southern California. Honda plans to lease 200 of these vehicles to customers over three years. The first customers received their leased vehicles in the summer of 2008, paying $600 per month for three years for a vehicle that for the most part is limited to driving in Southern California.
Although Honda has already chosen the first round of drivers for the Clarity, potential customers can still apply for the second batch of cars that will be released. Honda plans to roll out more of these not-quite-production vehicles to drivers in other parts of California as more hydrogen refueling stations become available, according to its Web site.
The National Hydrogen Association lists current and future hydrogen stations on its Web site. Going with the community input approach, the Cleantech Authority--an information hub for alternative energy--maintains a collaborative Google map that lists some of the hydrogen stations in California.