AB 8 Webinar 2018 - Questions & Answers

The California Air Resources Board released its 2018 Annual Evaluation of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Deployment and Hydrogen Fuel Station Network Development that documents the growth in hydrogen stations and FCEVs over the past year. On August 30 CaFCP hosted a webinar about the report.

You can find the video recording from the webinar here and presentation PDF here.
Please note that similar questions have been combined and summarized.

Questions about Costs

How much does hydrogen cost compared to diesel?

The report does not address the cost or price of hydrogen, but currently hydrogen is more expensive on a per-mile basis than traditional fuels. The California Fuel Cell Partnership’s Revolution report addresses several ways to reduce the cost of hydrogen to be competitive with and even less expensive than petroleum fuels.

What advancements are required to reduce hydrogen costs? Will additional vehicles and vehicle types help reduce costs?

The Revolution report mentions several factors and cites Shell’s report, Hydrogen’s Role in the Future of Transport, which states capital costs for hydrogen infrastructure could be reduced by 50 percent through economies of scale by as early as 2020 if developers were to build between 30 and 50 hydrogen stations per year globally. In addition, building hydrogen stations at the scale we project, the cost of hydrogen could approach the U.S. Department of Energy’s target of $4 per kilogram. That would make a zero-emission fuel roughly half to two-thirds the cost of gasoline. As more vehicles use more fuel, we’ll also see a cost reduction.

Can stations that make hydrogen with renewables, like electrolysis of water, be competitive?

Yes. The Low Carbon Fuel Standard is intended to help reduce costs of all renewably produced fuels.

Questions about ZEV Deployment

What happens if vehicle manufacturers decide to predominantly pursue plug-in electric vehicles?

Achieving the State of California’s goals for ZEV deployment, renewable energy production, and greenhouse gas reduction will require a mixture of technologies. Most auto manufactures are pursuing plug-in and fuel cell electric vehicles and the State’s role is to enable infrastructure for both.

Regarding the planned 250,000 chargers with 10,000 being DC chargers, has a study been conducted that shows there is a willing customer base ready to adopt BEVs or PHEVs in these early markets?

California has been a leader in deployment of zero emission vehicles for many years. California has the largest zero-emission fleet in the United States, the largest fuel cell fleet in the world, and is one of the leading markets in the world for zero-emission deployment. In many ways, the experience in California is a living example of the potential demand for these vehicles. California has also developed a supportive regulatory and incentive environment to demonstrate the conditions necessary to ensure zero-emission vehicle deployment and market development is a success. This includes rigorous and scientifically informed analysis and planning. The infrastructure and deployment goals for both fuel cell and battery electric vehicles in Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-48-18 are in agreement with the Mobile Source Strategy, analyses performed by the California Air Resources Board  and the California Energy Commission in support of Assembly Bill 8, and the CEC EVI-Pro tool developed  by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in partnership with the Energy Commission.

Why not use renewable electricity to satisfy our needs instead of converting it to hydrogen?

The question of round-trip efficiency is essentially a single consideration in a set of larger and more fundamental issues surrounding the challenge of converting California’s full vehicle fleet to zero emission options. Today’s consumers drive a variety of vehicles to meet a variety of purposes and it is likely that consumers will continue to need a variety. While some consumers clearly find BEVs meet their needs, fuel cells and hydrogen offer strengths and advantages for consumers who want long range, fast fueling time, heavier and larger vehicles, more towing capability, and may not have home-based fueling options available. As CARB has repeatedly found through its analyses, a full fleet turnover to zero emission vehicles will likely then require battery electric and fuel cell vehicles in the market to meet the full complement of consumer needs.

In addition, hydrogen has the unique potential to play an important role in a future when larger amounts of renewable electricity are supplied to the grid. At times of over-generation, renewable hydrogen has a unique potential to act as a large and long-lasting storage medium for that energy and to potentially become an economical renewable fuel source across many sectors, including transportation.

Questions about CHIT

Does CHIT data determine California Energy Commission grant funding? Do they use the "Local Capacity Need" and/or "Coverage Gap” data?

CHIT data is one factor that the Energy Commission considers in grant funding opportunities, and the weight they give CHIT or an individual data field is specified in the grant application manual.

What is it going to take to convince CARB and the governor's office to fund a thousand stations by 2025?

Currently station funding is a combination of ARFVTP funding from the Energy Commission and private industry. Members of the California Fuel Cell Partnership intend to move toward market-based incentives, like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, and away from grant funding for all low- and zero-carbon fuels.

Questions about LCFS

Can you explain how the LCFS will help the deployment of HFS infrastructure?

Page 4 of the AB 8 report states, “The largest potential shift that has been proposed is a method for hydrogen fueling infrastructure developers to be eligible to generate LCFS credits based on the capacity of hydrogen fueling stations that they develop and register with the program. For a limited period, station operators could generate credits in the LCFS system equal to the difference between the credits that could be earned at full station utilization (based on the station’s daily fueling capacity) and the amount generated based on actual hydrogen sales. The additional credits are intended to serve as a supplementary revenue stream during the early FCEV deployment phase…station operators (could) generate credits that…provide a more-certain stream of revenue...(and) could be an influential factor in moving the industry toward the ability to develop a station network more quickly and at larger scale, with the potential to ultimately provide significant fuel savings to FCEV customers.”

Will the existing stations be eligible for the proposed LCFS infrastructure credits?

Hydrogen fuel producers have always had the opportunity to participate in the program and potentially generate credits. The latest proposed language for the infrastructure credits would allow existing stations to be eligible, as long as they meet all other eligibility criteria. The draft proposal recently completed a second 15-day comment period and the finalized language has not yet been presented to the Board for public consideration. This is expected to occur at CARB’s Board Meeting on September 27-28, 2018.

Are non-LDVs eligible for LCFS credits?

LCFS is specific to fuel, not to the vehicle. All producers of renewable fuels are eligible for credits.

Questions about Medium- and Heavy-duty Vehicles

Aren’t fuel cells better suited for class 8 heavy trucks?

Fuel cells are scalable across a variety of applications. In addition to light-duty cars, fuel cell buses and trucks are currently deployed in California and elsewhere. Forklifts and material handling were an early success for fuel cells across the country. In Europe where electric rail is common, we see more fuel cell locomotives and light-rail systems. Worldwide we’re seeing new interest in fuel cells for stationary power. Several of California’s micro-grid projects include fuel cells for grid stabilization

How does incentivizing deployment of fuel-cell vehicles and infrastructure help encourage development of medium- and heavy-duty transportation applications that are harder to electrify?

Components and underlying technology in vehicles and stations are the same across applications, which enables manufacturers to leverage product research and development, design specifications, and improvements across products or lead to development of an entirely new product. It distributes costs of product development and manufacturing across multiple product lines and maximizes production efficiencies, which is especially important when initial production volumes are smaller.

Have you considered a new model for logistics and distribution parks based on running fuel cell trucks?

ARB recently funded two pilot programs that involved fuel cell and battery electric trucks to evaluate performance, GHG reduction, and business models.

What are the statuses of fuel cell buses and ferries?

AC Transit, SunLine Transit, and OCTA are all expanding the number of fuel cell buses in their fleets. The first fuel cell ferry is in the early stages of development.

Questions about Stations

What are the plans for stations in states neighboring California?

GO-Biz is starting to work with other states in addition to those in the Northeast, and California recently began preliminary conversations with stakeholders in Washington and Oregon. 

A station network is also under development in the Northeast U.S. Four of the stations are built and awaiting vehicles. The automakers are preparing to lease and sell cars in the Northeast. You can stay in touch with Toyota and Honda through their websites.

On July 14, the first retail station in Hawaii opened. Developed by Servco, the station is adjacent to a Toyota dealership. The island of Oahu has hosted several hydrogen demonstration projects over the years, including buses, military equipment, shore power for ships, and blending hydrogen and natural gas. HCATT recently took delivery of a fuel cell truck.

Besides hydrogen station infrastructure capacity increase, what is the major technical hurdle to be cleared?

ARB needs to refer you to the station developers and national labs for this level of information.

Who decides where the next station is going to be built?

Currently, stations are awarded in a competitive grant process that is part of the California Energy Commission’s ARFVTP program. The grant funding application lists several criteria that includes locations that either provide redundancy to existing markets and seed new markets.

Do you have refill time statistics from real retail stations?

NREL reported in 2017 that the average refill time at a retail hydrogen station is California is 3.8 minutes.

Questions about Hydrogen Production

How is most hydrogen produced?

Hydrogen is a common industrial gas used to make a wide variety of products, ranging from gasoline to computer chips. As of July 2018, most of the hydrogen sold at hydrogen stations was excess production, primarily from natural gas. California law requires that 33 percent of hydrogen be made from renewables today, which include renewable electrolysis, biomass, and biogas. Strong policies coupled with industry commitment incentivize the transition to 100 percent renewable hydrogen, and we expect most of that will come from excess renewables, including wind and solar.

In the meantime, the Energy Commission recently awarded Stratos Fuel a grant to expand an existing facility that currently produces 3,000 kg/day of hydrogen to 5,000 kg/day using a 30-year solar and wind power agreement. We expect this grant is the first of several public/private projects to increase the hydrogen supply. In addition, Senate Bill 1369, which is currently before the California legislature, would create up to three renewable hydrogen projects across California.

Have you analyzed hydrogen production on-site versus central production and delivery?

Stakeholders expect that hydrogen will be centrally produced from renewables and delivered to the station, due in part to the amount of space that on-site production requires.

What are the sources of renewable hydrogen?

Energy Independence Now’s Renewable Hydrogen Roadmap provides a great explanation of how hydrogen is produced today and how it can be produced in the future.

Questions about Cars

Who is selling cars and how many? What are other automakers’ plans?

Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota have FCEVs available in the U.S., and Mercedes is planning to introduce a fuel cell vehicle in 2019. GM, Nissan, VW, and BMW all have R&D projects with fuel cells and hydrogen. At the beginning of every month, CaFCP updates U.S. sales and lease numbers and post them on their website. They recently added publicly available data from Japan to this page.