California Hydrogen Highway Plan and Vision 2010

The “Vision 2010” for Californias Hydrogen Highways is to ensure that by the end of the decade every Californian has access to hydrogen fuel along the States major highways, with a significant and increasing percentage of that hydrogen produced from clean, renewable sources. This vision for California is real and attainable; howe’ver, it will take time so we must plant the seeds now.

California is facing major challenges in the areas of air pollution, public health, energy security, and national security as a result of our over-dependence onpetroleum fuels. One in six children in the States most polluted regions suffer from asthma, and over three-quarters of the State does not meet national primary or secondary ambient air quality standards.

In 2003, 60% of the states airpollution came from mobile sources (cars, trucks, buses and other forms of transportation). The citizens of California have been enduring frequent gasoline price spikes and the State is facing critical shortages in refining capacity, which will drive prices even higher. A solution to these problems is to begin building a bridge to a cleaner, moresecure and more sustainable transportation and energy future.

The goal of the California Hydrogen Highway Network initiative is to support and catalyze a rapid transition to a clean, hydrogen transportation economy in California, thereby reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and protecting our citizens from health harms related to vehicle emissions. We have an opportunity to deal with these problems by investing in Californias ability to innovate our way to a clean hydrogen future, thus bringing jobs, investment, and continued economicprosperity to California.

We have an opportunity to prove to the world that a thriving environment and economy can co-exist. The “Vision 2010” for Californias Hydrogen Highways is to ensure that by the end of the decade every Californian has access to hydrogen fuel along the States major highways, with a significant and increasing percentage of that hydrogen produced from clean, renewable sources. This vision for California is real and attainable; howe’ver, it will take time so we must plant the seeds now. To expedite the transition of our transportation system away from petroleumfuels, towards hydrogen fuel and vehicles, experts point to the crucial need for a hydrogen fueling infrastructure and the necessary leadership to make it a reality.

An early network of only 150 to 200 hydrogen fueling stations throughout the State (approximately one station every 20 miles on the States major highways) would make hydrogen fuel available to the vast majority of Californians. This early vision for Californias Hydrogen Highway Network is achievable by 2010 and will help demonstrate the economic and technical viability of hydrogen technologies.

Studies by the California Fuel Cell Partnership and others estimatethat this initial low-volume fueling network will cost $75 – $200 million, themajority of this investment coming from private investment by energy companies,automakers, high-tech firms, and other companies.California is already a clear leader in the areas of advanced vehicles, alternativefuels and clean energy.

Already there are over a dozen hydrogen fuelingfacilities in California and more than 40 fuel cell vehicles have been placed indemonstration programs throughout the state. At least nine more hydrogenstations will be added in 2004 (several more are planned but not yet announced).

By 2007, fuel cell hybrid vehicles, both buses and light-duty vehicles, will be usedin demonstration fleets in tandem with early hydrogen fueling infrastructure.Internal combustion hydrogen hybrid vehicles will also be available both in fleetapplications and commercially in larger numbers in the 2006-7 time frame.

By2010, automakers have indicated that “tens of thousands” of fuel cells vehicleswill be commercially available, provided there is fueling infrastructure in place.California has an opportunity to ready the landscape for the placement ofhydrogen vehicles better than anywhere else in the world.

In order to achieve the “2010 Vision,” the California Hydrogen Highway NetworkAction Plan is developing public/private partnerships that will work together toinvest in the early infrastructure development, and to address key hydrogencommercialization challenges. The public sector needs to play a role in settingthe stage for hydrogen commercialization (incentives, loan guarantees, revenuebond funding, education and training, etc) so that investment by the privatesector can take place and the market can develop.

Finally, it is abundantly clear that many of the worlds nations (Japan, China,Canada, Iceland, Norway, and the European Union) are actively pursuing asimilar vision of a hydrogen economy for many of the same reasons – energysecurity, energy diversity, national security, the environment, climate change,and public health. Canada, the European Union and Japan all have ambitioushydrogen plans which include visions for Hydrogen Highways.

The HydrogenTechnical Advisory Panel predicted several years ago that a hydrogeninfrastructure will be in place in the US by the year 2050”with or withoutCalifornias efforts. To bring the business and investment to the State, we must provide an unprecedented level of leadership to bear on the issue.We will prove the Governors words in his State of the State address on January6, 2004,”I intend to show the world that economic growth and the environmentcan coexist. And if you want to see it, then come to California.” We will showthat Hydrogen Means Business in California. There is clear momentum buildingand we must act now in California if we want to play a key role in shaping a cleanhydrogen future.

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.

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