Category Archives: Fuel Cells

USA & CANADA Quarterly H2 Infrastructure Update 2019-Q2

Welcome new readers of RMP’s quarterly H2 infrastructure report.  Each quarter we look back on the major stories related to hydrogen infrastructure advancements and we compare the current AFDC database to the AFDC database in the prior quarter to see what has changed.  The AFDC database is updated by the US Dept of Energy & can be found by clicking here.  Canada does not have a centralized database of alternative fuel vehicle information so we collect Canadian data by hand in RMP’s own data tables.  Ok, on with the report…

skai air taxi hydrogen
The Skai air taxi powered by a hydrogen fuel cell stack has a range of 4 hours/400 miles and can be refueled full in about ten minutes. This 5 passenger VTOL (Vertical Take Off & Landing) vehicle has been under development by Massachusetts start up Alaka’i Technologies for over fours years and debuted this quarter on May 29, 2019 in California. The https://skai.co/ website is really awesome. There are two new videos on there that you should go check out. Click image to enlarge.

The main objective of this quarterly publication is to review hydrogen infrastructure developments across the USA & Canada.  For the most part, that translates to new public hydrogen refueling stations opening and watching the construction progress of new stations.  But, the infrastructure in the hydrogen economy is much bigger than just refueling stations.  Manufacturing companies like Hydrogenics, Ballard Power, Bloom Energy, Doosan, & Plug Power are all part of the burgeoning hydrogen economy.  Major industrial gas suppliers like Air Liquide, Air Products, Linde, and Praxier all have big roles to play in the hydrogen economy.  So too do major manufacturers like Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, General Motors, and Mercedes along with many more.

While the addition & progress of public refueling stations is still the major focus of this publication, most of the action this past quarter has been the growth of the hydrogen economy at large outside of the refueling stations sector.  The biggest example just happened a week ago with Cummins purchasing Hydrogenics for $290M (or $15/share).  This purchase is a major validation of hydrogen fuel cells coming of age.  Cummins has over $21B of revenue each year & is a powerhouse in the diesel engine game.   Cummins is not just purchasing a small distributor or supplier to ease a logistics issue, this is a strategic shift in its main profit center: starting the changeover of making diesel engines to making zero emission heavy duty fuel cell systems.  Cummins knows a thing or two about powering large marine vessels, Class 8 trucks to Class 1 trucks, and even backup generators for critical infrastructure like hospitals, water treatment plants, and key government buildings.  Cummins purchase of Hydrogenics indicates an acknowledgement that heavy duty fuel cells could begin to replace every single one of those applications with zero emission clean hydrogen that is domestically produced; i.e. no more imported crude oil or the smog that goes with it.

Continue reading USA & CANADA Quarterly H2 Infrastructure Update 2019-Q2

Cleantechnica Painted Into Corner with Years of Anti-Hydrogen Bias

CleanTechnica has been biased against hydrogen so long, they’re struggling to pivot back to common sense. Zachary Shahan, CleanTechnica’s Chief Editor, has spent his career slandering hydrogen fuel cells for one reason: to support Tesla. There is only one reason CleanTechnica & its fans bash hydrogen: because Elon Musk said fuel cell cars were foolish so many years ago. Because one of CleanTechnica’s primary purposes is to promote Tesla, they are running into the problem of how practical hydrogen is for industry and transportation.

This post is inspired by a recent Steve Hanley article here published June 18, 2019. Steve is a long time contributor to CleanTechnica & has also written for Teslarati & Green Car Reports. I have followed Steve’s work for about 10 years & subscribe to his various blogs. In this post Steve makes a pivot to say to CleanTechnica’s loyal anti-hydrogen supporters that maybe hydrogen makes sense for some applications (but obviously not for cars because that might threaten beloved Tesla). Of course hydrogen makes sense for many applications, this is the conundrum that CleanTechnica faces as groups like the IEA recently made a plea to integrate hydrogen into the world’s energy mix. Please read the CleanTechnica article linked in this paragraph to see all the great quotes.

The dilemma CleanTechnica faces is similar to the dilemma many BEV only advocates face that have ignored the science & economics of the Hydrogen Economy: it just makes too much sense for everything! Hydrogen is so ubiquitous that as it proliferates it becomes cheaper & cheaper. So if CleanTechnica supports hydrogen for fertilizer, steel making, ocean freight, & air travel it means hydrogen proliferates and gets so cheap and so ubiquitous that people would ultimately think… “why not just fill up my car or truck as long as there are hydrogen dispensers everywhere”. This is a major problem to CleanTechnica because it threatens their beloved Tesla.

Here’s how the saying goes from most anti-hydrogen folks: most all hydrogen is made from natural gas and therefore it’s no good because natural gas is a fossil fuel. RMP has been writing about the 100s of shades of how misleading that statement is and we will continue to do so. Here’s what never gets said by the same folks:

  • Most BEVs are charged with electricity made from fossil fuels.
  • There are zero off-grid renewable charging points for BEVs because fast charging & renewable energy are not economically feasible
  • Hydrogen can be just as easily made from water & renewable energy than from natural gas.
  • Natural gas from sewage treatment plants, landfills, & farm wastes can be made into hydrogen too and that natural gas will always need to be managed as long as we shall live on this planet.

To understand CleanTechnica’s bias, you only need to read a few of their articles. You only need to look a the Tesla logo assigned to anonymous commenters on every comment on every post. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has created a false dichotomy amongst his loyal followers that says you can either choose battery or fuel cell. This is not true, both work very well together. The truth is we need both. When Elon makes dumb statements, he has to own them. This is the same with Elon calling out LiDAR as not necessary because Tesla uses camera & radar. The same false dichotomy applies in that you can use both LiDAR & cameras which is what most automotive companies will do as autonomous driving evolves.

There are several hydrogen fueling stations that are 100% renewable off-grid stations because hydrogen works very well for fast refueling using renewable energy. There are zero off-grid renewable fast chargers for BEVs because electric charging does not marry well with renewable energy in a cost effective way. To say otherwise is pure fantasy. If anyone knows of an off-grid renewable fast charger powered by wind or solar, please leave some info about it in the comment section. It has been just over two years since Elon Musk said all Super Chargers will disconnect from the grid but still there are none. Here is a website showing all of Elon Musk’s false promises: https://elonmusk.today/

Hydrogen is smart for the economy & the environment and time is on the side of people who support both technologies to help our planet. People who lie or don’t understand science are condemned to get taught this lesson the hard way. RMP supports BEV technology and vehicles because they’re smart to add to the mix of clean energy technologies. RMP also supports hydrogen fuel cells because they have the potential to work for everybody & are a very smart long term solution to reduce pollution & greenhouse gas emissions. The only thing that is stupid is saying we have to choose one or the other thus creating a false dichotomy. CleanTechnica must lie down in the bed they have made and it will get harder and harder for them going forward.

California Hydrogen Draft Solicitation CONCEPTS 2019

On January 23, 2019, the California Energy Commission released a draft document on solicitation concepts for funding of the next round of hydrogen fueling stations. California will be awarding match funding to build out more HRS to hit the magic number of 100 hydrogen refueling stations at which point construction should be self sufficient. In order to be approved for match funding, applicants must meet the criteria laid forth by the California Energy Commission. The document the CEC published on January 23, 2019 is 42 pages long. In this post, respectmyplanet.org will summarize the key points of the document into approximately 3 pages of highlights. Respectmyplanet.org follows hydrogen infrastructure closely and we hope to learn from California’s leadership. RMP hopes to work with Michigan’s government and surrounding Great Lakes states to put similar clean energy legislative initiatives into place to help protect Michigan’s fresh water for the long haul. What follows is a condensed summary of California Hydrogen Draft Solicitation Concepts .

HYDROGEN DRAFT SOLICITATION CONCEPTS

Timeline:

          January 23, 2019 – Draft for solicitation concepts released

          February 12, 2019 – Discussion about the draft & comments received will be discussed at the Energy Commission Workshop

          February 22, 2019 – Final comments for draft solicitation concepts are due.

Goal:

            The goal of the next solicitation is to provide grant funds to projects to expand California’s early commercial hydrogen refueling and fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) markets and to accommodate the projected FCEV roll-out in the 2021-2024 timeframe. This network of hydrogen refueling stations, hydrogen fuel supply, and FCEVs will support the carbon emissions reduction and air quality improvement goals of the State of California. Hydrogen is one of the alternative fuels that contributes to reducing the carbon intensity of transportation fuels.  When the 2018 amendments to the LCFS regulation are put into effect, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard  (LCFS) will have a goal of achieving a 20 percent carbon intensity reduction by 2030.

Suggestion to Applicants:

Potential Applicants to the next funding solicitation are strongly encouraged to discuss their proposed project(s) with the automobile original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), site owners, station owners, station operators, county and city governmental representatives involved with permitting, environmental review, and fire protection rules and regulations [e.g., the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 2], and other key project partners.

Total Available Funding:

$110 Million dollars.  The California Energy Commission reserves the right to increase or decrease this funding at its sole discretion.

Key Words:

“Tranches” will be used to describe the entire number of stations from a single applicant.

“Batches” will be used to describe a subset of stations within a “tranche” that are approved & in progress at any time.

Key Points Related To Funding:

  • Stations will be funded based on a dollars per kilogram ratio within a 24 hour period.  For example, if a station is proposed that will dispense 5,000kg of H2 per day and funding is assigned at $2,000/kg then the station will be approved for $10 million dollars.  (i.e. 5,000kg * $2,000/kg = $10,000,000.   This should encourage larger stations for key population centers.
  • Eligible costs for reimbursement are limited to allowable equipment expenditures only for light duty hydrogen refueling stations (HRS).  Other expenses (i.e. labor, fringe, travel, subcontracted labor, materials/supplies, & overhead) are not eligible for reimbursement.
  • Match funding of 50% of all eligible equipment costs will be supplied by the applicant, again no labor, fringe, travel, et Al…).  Only eligible equipment costs are reimbursable & all other costs are to be paid by the applicant.
  • There is a single applicant cap of 33.3%.  A single Applicant is eligible for no more than 33.3% of the total funds awarded under this solicitation. This is referred to as the “Single Applicant Cap.” The Single Applicant Cap shall not exceed 33.3% of all available funding at any given time.  $22.9M of the total $110M will be available in 2019, so therefore $7.53M will be the single applicant cap for the initial NOPA.  This departs from GFO-15-605 in that the single applicant cap was previously 60%.  So S.A.C. has decreased from 60% to 33.3%
  • Funding will be released in Stages as follows:
    • Stage 1 – 25% available upon completing milestones such as preliminary design & placing order for eligible equipment
    • Stage 2 – 50% available upon submitting entitlement app or initial permit app
    • Stage 3 – 75% available upon shipment of equip from manufacturer & permit to build from AHJ (Authority Holding Jurisdiction)
    • Stage 4 – 90% available upon open retail status
    • Stage 5 – 100% after being open retail for 5 years & submitting all applicable data to the NREL for their data collection tool.
  • No Operational or Maintenance funding will be provided in this grant.  Operational & Maintenance funding may be available through CARB.
  • Funding agreements shall be executed by funding recipient within 90 days following project approval at an Energy Commission Business Meeting.

Other Key Points for Potential Awardees

Starting at the bottom of Page 8 of the original document being summarized, we get into the minutiae of milestones, requirements, and evidence of support (Pages 9 through 42).  If you’re so inclined, like me, please read the document in its entirety here.  Also, check out the California Energy Commission’s webpage calendar event schedule here.   The workshop meeting will be held February 12, 2019 in Sacramento, California.

From this point, on the remaining points in pages 9 – 28 of the draft document are summarized/bulleted:

  • Five critical milestones must be met to qualify for stage funding throughout the process of building an HRS or batch of HRS’
  • Stations must be within the geography of the map labeled “Figure 1” shown below.
  • Stations must provide details according to the HySCAPE model scores (i.e. station throughput, capacity, delivery metrics, time between fills, et Al.)
  • Safety Requirements met (obviously)
  • Must dispense at least 33% renewable hydrogen.
  • Stations will be scored based on criteria shown in image labeled “Table 2” shown below.
  • Each of the methodologies on how to “score points” for your overall score out of 100 in competing against other applicants are described in detail on pages 29 through 42 of the draft document. Each scoring category is shown below in Table 2.
FIGURE 1 - Areas of eligibility for grant funding
Table 2 - Evaluation criteria for scoring points to become a grant award winner.

USA & CANADA QUARTERLY H2 INFRASTRUCTURE UPDATE 2018-Q4

Welcome new readers of RMP’s quarterly H2 infrastructure report.  Each quarter we look back on the major stories related to hydrogen infrastructure advancements in the USA & Canada and chronicle them here. We also compare an AFDC database download at quarter end to the prior quarter’s database to see what has changed.  The AFDC database is updated by the U.S. Dept. of Energy & can be found by clicking here.  Canada does not have a centralized database of alternative fuel vehicle information so we collect Canadian data by hand in RMP’s own data tables. You’ll often see the acronym ‘HRS’ in this report which stands for Hydrogen Refueling Station. You can click on any picture within any RMP post and it will open a full screen photo gallery of all photos in the article.  With that out of the way, let’s get on with the report.

A big story in 2018-Q4 is what happened just this past week:  3 new public HRS opened in California.  The Citrus Heights HRS opened on 12/19/2018 under the Shell brand.  And, the Palo Alto & Los Angeles Intl Airport upgraded HRS opened on 12/21/2018 under Air Liquide’s Blue Hydrogen brand.  This is the first time that 3 stations opened in one week and it’s a precursor to a much busier year in 2019. Twenty-two new H2 refueling stations are set to open in 2019 which is more than any year before.

Palo Alto Hydrogen Refueling Station
Air Liquide’s Blue Hydrogen brand hydrogen refueling station (HRS) in Palo Alto California opened to the public on 12/21/2018. This HRS is the 38th public station to open in California. (Photo: Twitter)

The overarching top story this past quarter, however, has got to be how Air Liquide is stepping up bigger & faster than anyone else in the USA’s hydrogen economy & elsewhere around the world too. Let’s look at some examples of how Air Liquide has stepped up commitments and more importantly their investments in the North American and global Hydrogen Economy.  Both the new LAX & Palo Alto stations are operated by Continue reading USA & CANADA QUARTERLY H2 INFRASTRUCTURE UPDATE 2018-Q4

China’s Hydrogen Economy

When China decides to invest in a specific industry sector for the good of their economy, they can fundamentally change the macro economic landscape of the globe for that economic sector.  That’s exactly what China is doing by putting their economic might behind the development of the Hydrogen Economy.  We have all seen this story before with solar arrays & renewable energy in China.  The header image of a smog-filled Guangzhou skyline in this post is clear demonstration of both why China is embracing renewable energy and why they must.  China has stepped up efforts to incentivize the growth of renewable energy and now has over 600 GW of renewable generation capacity and produces over 60% of the world’s solar cells annually.  It took many years for China to affect economies of scale for solar cells, but we can now buy solar panels that have reasonable economic pay back thanks to China; it didn’t always used to be that way.  Let’s examine why China is now putting hydrogen into their strategic energy plans with policies & incentives, just like they did for solar panels many years ago.

How Did China’s Air Quality Become So Poor?

China produced 3.2 billion tons of coal in 2016, or 44% of the world’s total, according to the International Energy Agency.  China was also the top importer of coal in 2016. Coal plant capacity in China reached 942 gigawatts in 2016, up 42 GW from the previous year, according to the China Electricity Council. Burning coal releases invisible CO2 as well as nitrous oxides and particulate matter you see as smog in this post’s feature image.  Diesel & gasoline vehicle exhaust also release CO2, NOx, & SOx pollutants, which compound China’s air quality problems from burning coal.  While coal use is not going to stop any time soon, China plans to mitigate the effects of coal in a hydrogen economy by using modern coal gasification technologies with carbon capture & sequestration just like RMP has written about here.  Getting the hydrogen they need from coal without polluting their air or water, China can begin a ramp down of coal use. One day, Chinese cities can enjoy blue skies and clean rivers.  By using advanced coal to chemical technologies coupled with wind & solar generation China can have a one-two punch that tackles all their energy needs with no pollution. China can be energy independent and carbon neutral in just a few decades.  The manufacture of hydrogen is a common denominator that makes a clean, sustainable, and job filled economy possible regardless of a country’s energy feedstocks.

Continue reading China’s Hydrogen Economy

General Motors Defense LLC – Full Size Fuel Cell Pickup Truck – The ZH2

Fuel cells have helped push General Motors back into working with the US Military.  GM recently created a new division called GM Defense LLC that is supplying fuel cell technology to the US military for land & submarine vehicles.   RMP has done a quick write up with some pictures of the new full size ZH2 fuel cell pickup truck concept based on the Chevy Silverado that looks ready to be used in combat missions.

Continue reading General Motors Defense LLC – Full Size Fuel Cell Pickup Truck – The ZH2

USA & Canada Quarterly H2 Infrastructure Update 2018-Q3

This quarterly report looks back at all the H2 infrastructure activity from the previous three months in the USA & Canada. This issue of our report is focused on activity that occurred between 6/30/2018 and 9/30/2018.  RMP is tracking Hydrogen Refueling Station (HRS) development as refueling is the key growth bottleneck to wide scale FCEV adoption.  Awesome hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are already available and in production, we just need refueling stations.  A lot of hydrogen infrastructure activity has occurred in the USA & Canada in the past quarter.   The two biggest highlights in the last quarter have got to be Hawaii’s first public HRS opening in July and Canada’s first HRS opening at the tail end of June that just missed our Q2 publication cutoff when RMP was only covering USA activity.

USA Hydrogen Stations
HRS count of planned & active locations in USA from 9-23-2018 download from AFDC database. Hawaii ranks #2 in number of stations on the database.  (CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

Honolulu-based Toyota dealer and distributor SERVCO Pacific unveiled the island’s first HRS in Oahu after traditional Japanese Taiko drummers kicked off the ceremony.  SERVCO, a local 100-year-old company, hopes that the availability of hydrogen to power passenger cars will spur sales of fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs) on Oahu and eventually other Hawaiian Islands.  Hawaii already ranks 2nd in the USA for number of  planned & active stations in a state with nine.   In fact the SERVCO station has been on RMP’s Map of all HRS in the USA since we started making our map (view our map here).  Now, the SERVCO station is open to the general public.

If you’re reading this article, you might have already Continue reading USA & Canada Quarterly H2 Infrastructure Update 2018-Q3

Quarterly USA H2 Report Becomes Quarterly USA & Canada H2 Report

RMP is based near Detroit, Michigan.   The Detroit River separates the City of Detroit & the City of Windsor.  The Ambassador Bridge connects the two cities and soon the Gordy Howe International Bridge, a once in a generation undertaking, will be a second major bridge connecting the two cities.  Windsor is my personal connection to Canada and has been woven into the fabric of my life since I was a child.  I can remember seeing Ronald Reagan at Cobo Hall in the morning & crossing the bridge to Windsor and seeing Queen Elizabeth in Windsor on the very same day.   The USA & Canada border is vast and the friendship & commerce all along the USA & Canada border provides many folks from Washington to New York their own personal connections to our neighbor to the north.

Canada is also a leader in Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology.  Ballard Power is Continue reading Quarterly USA H2 Report Becomes Quarterly USA & Canada H2 Report

USA Quarterly H2 Infrastructure Update 2018-Q2

This quarterly report looks back at all the H2 infrastructure activity from the previous three months. This issue of our report is focused on activity that occurred between 3/31/2018 and 6/30/2018. With things happening faster now than they have in the past, we may need to make this a monthly report in the near future. If you like keeping up to date on RMP’s H2 data observations, please subscribe to our blog by entering your email address in the WordPress subscribe widget. RMP uses the AFDC database as our main source to generate the information in this report. Several data updates on the Alternative Fuels Data Center database occurred this quarter, which is the 2nd straight quarter RMP has monitored higher frequency in data updates since we started following the AFDC database over six years ago. The AFDC database is also the main source of RMP’s Hydrogen Station Map. Areas of the database that have been stagnate for years, now show an increased frequency in updates. RMP notices every small change from quarter to quarter using special data analytics techniques developed over years of tracking environmental data & creating our environmental Google maps. You can help RMP improve our research & publications by making a tax-deductible donation (USA only) by clicking here.

Seven data records for H2 stations disappeared from the database this quarter. Two of the stations no longer showing on the AFDC database are the Continue reading USA Quarterly H2 Infrastructure Update 2018-Q2

USA Quarterly H2 Infrastructure Update 2018-Q1

Respectmyplanet.org has created a new quarterly report called the USA H2 Infrastructure Quarterly Update. This is our 2nd report since our inaugural report on 12/31/2017, but our first with the new ‘quarterly’ title.  You can read our first H2 infrastructure update report published in December by clicking here.  A quarterly frequency should be appropriate to report on H2 station construction & news in the USA, but things are certainly happening faster now than they have in the past. This report may need to become a monthly report in the near future if the pace continues to quicken.

More things H2 related are happening in the USA now than they ever have in the past. There were more data updates on the Alternative Fuels Data Center DB (AFDC database) this quarter than in Continue reading USA Quarterly H2 Infrastructure Update 2018-Q1