Governor Schwarzeneggers words in his State of the State address on January 6, 2004, “I intend to show the world that economic growth and the environment can coexist. And if you want to see it, then come to California.”
In 1999 Gray Davis formed the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) to help advance full cell powered vehicles. The original eight members were; Fuel cell manufacturer Ballard Power Systems (Ford and Daimler Chrysler currently own 35% of BPS), Daimler Chrysler and Ford Motor Company, Energy Providers (previously called oil companies) BP, Shell Hydrogen, Chevron Texaco and two government agencies, California Air Resources Board and California Energy Commission.
CaFCP has a budget of $2,000,000 each year, coming from the private investment of each of the current 30 members.
According to CaFCP, the goals of the organization are;
CaFCPs primary goal seems to be the commercialization and public awareness of hydrogen vehicles, while the Hydrogen highway provides the infrastructure for these vehicles.
Since CaFCPs inception in 1999, more than 60 fuel cell vehicles have participated in the project. Together, these vehicles have logged more than 150,000 miles. Currently, 12 hydrogen stations provide fuel to vehicles in the urban areas of California.
The hydrogen highway plan states that 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.
Studies by the California Fuel Cell Partnership and others estimate that the initial fueling network will cost $75 – $200 million, the majority of the investment coming from private investment by energy companies, automakers, high-tech firms, and other companies.
According to Al Weverstad, 2005 Chairperson, CaFCP, the CaFCP panel meets with the Hydrogen Highway panel every six months. “This meeting is essential to keeping the vision of a hydrogen economy alive. The CaFCP will continue as a collaborative industry-government forum where the challenges of fuel cell vehicle commercialization can be addressed by a diverse group of representatives working toward a common goal.”
There are still problems with fuel cell vehicles and the hydrogen infrastructure. Noone is denying that. According to Weverstad, “Without these real-world tests, with all of us working together, we wouldnt know how close or how far away we are to finding solutions.”
David Ouwerkerk, Manager, Commercial & Strategic Projects, General Motors, brought it home “In the hey-day of the railroads, each railroad company was sure they would be the winner. At the end of the day America had 13 different gauges of railways, instead of an cohesive infrastructure.”
The CaFCP is currently comprised of automotive, energy, technology and government members. Associate members provide expertise in hydrogen and methanol fueling.*
*Automotive members DaimlerChrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen occupy indoor garage “bays” designed to house vehicles for routine servicing, repairs, and diagnostic purposes.
Energy members BP, ExxonMobil, Shell Hydrogen and ChevronTexaco along with associate members Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. and Praxair jointly designed and built a hydrogen fueling facility, which dispenses compressed or liquid hydrogen fuel for the vehicles.
A 2,000 gallon methanol fueling station was constructed and commissioned in April 2002 by the Methanol Fuel Cell Alliance of DaimlerChrysler, Ballard, BP, Statoil, BASF and Methanex.
Ballard Power Systems leases space at the facility for administrative and technical purposes.
For more information, including tours and upcoming events, visit the California Fuel Cell Partnership at www.cafcp.org.