Hawaii to test hydrogen vehicles with GM

Looking to tackle the lack of hydrogen fueling infrastructure, 10 companies and agencies plan to build filling stations and test pipelines for hydrogen in Hawaii.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica

The General Motors Fuel Cell vehicle on the coast of Oahu, near Honolulu, Hawaii.
The General Motors Fuel Cell vehicle on the coast of Oahu, near Honolulu, Hawaii. Steve Fecht for General Motors

General Motors announced today it is part of a partnership to test fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen fueling infrastructure in Hawaii.

The Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative aims to bring 20 to 25 hydrogen fueling stations to Hawaii by 2015, according to an agreement with GM, Hawaiian utility The Gas Company (TGC), and other research and government agencies.

The project will seek to use existing natural gas pipelines to distribute hydrogen. TGC said that it has the capacity to produce enough hydrogen for 10,000 vehicles.

Hawaii is the most fossil fuel-dependent state in the U.S., according to the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. Because it imports so much fossil fuel, it has very high electricity and liquid fuel prices compared to other states.

To lessen Hawaii's dependence on fossil fuels, the Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative is trying to address one of the toughest challenges to fuel cell vehicle adoption--the lack of distribution infrastructure.

GM, like other major auto companies, has a long-standing hydrogen fuel cell vehicle development program. But these vehicles have only been used in a few pockets of the U.S. where there are hydrogen filling stations.

Fuel cell vehicles produce electricity on board through a chemical reaction in a fuel cell to power the vehicle. The fuel cells produce only water vapor emissions during driving, but hydrogen requires energy to be produced, often either by reforming natural gas or splitting water in an electrolyzer.