February 2018 Hydrogen Station Update Webinar - Questions & Answers

You can find the video recording from the webinar here and presentation PDF here.

Questions About Vehicles Incentives

Was the January 2019 expiration date for DMV white stickers for HOV lanes extended?

In October, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 544 that extended use of HOV lanes by zero emission vehicles until September 30, 2025.

Will rebates from the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program be available this year?

CVRP funding is determined by an annual funding plan that is developed with public input and approved by CARB. In previous years, the number of applicants has exceeded the amount of funding and some applicants needed to wait until the funding was available. In 2018, CARB increased the amount of funding and The Center for Sustainable Energy added real-time funding status information. According to the website, funding is available and applications are being accepted.

Questions About SOSS and the station map

Do other websites and applications use SOSS data? Is there an API interface that I can access?

SOSS pushes data to “subscribing” applications that include station providers’ and automakers’ apps. Currently, all entities receiving data are CaFCP members.

How do you create an account and get text messages?

From any web browser, go to m.cafcp.org (not the CaFCP website.) Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Sign Up. You can then select which stations you want to be alerted about and how you want to be alerted (text or email.)
SOSS signup image - hydrogen station status updates

Word of caution: stations sometimes transmit data in the wee hours of the morning, which can send dozens of online/offline messages to SOSS and you will get a text message every time!

Can you add the renewable content graphic from the station map to SOSS?

We appreciate the input. We’re always looking at ways to make SOSS better and share data that is relevant and important to drivers. SOSS is intended to quickly show the most-crucial information to a person who is heading out for fuel. Currently, we’re focused on adding new stations and moving from 15-minute reporting to near real-time.

Do you plan to show the retail price of hydrogen on SOSS?

We are working with the station developers to program the dispensers to send more data to SOSS, possibly including the price.

Can you add the number of stations in each category to the station map?

Rather than add addition information to a navigation menu, we provide a spreadsheet with station development information. The top of the spreadsheet lists the number of stations in each category. We generally update the spreadsheet on Fridays.

Hydrogen station development spreadsheet location

Can you add how each station gets or produces its hydrogen to the station map or station spreadsheet?

Thanks for this idea. We’re working on additional content for the CaFCP website and will add this request to the list.

Questions About Renewable Hydrogen

How much of the hydrogen dispensed is renewable?

SB 1505 (2006, Lowenthal) requires that 33% of hydrogen for transportation come from renewable sources.

Page 15 (Finding 9) of the California Air Resources Board’s 2017 Annual Evaluation of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Deployment and Hydrogen Fuel Station Network Development (aka “the AB8 report”) states, “Currently, California’s open and funded fueling network is expected to dispense 37% of its hydrogen utilizing renewable resources, exceeding the 33% requirement of SB 1505.”

Which stations dispense renewable hydrogen?

All stations have at least 33% renewable. The Riverside, Hollywood and Play del Rey stations offer 100% renewable hydrogen.

How is the hydrogen produced without an electrolyzer?

By using renewable energy (electricity or biogas) to produce hydrogen via steam reforming. Toyota plans a hydrogen station at the Port of Long Beach that will use agricultural waste in a tri-generation system.

How will you certify hydrogen is renewable?

It’s still under discussion, but it’s likely to be through the California Air Resources Board Low Carbon Fuel Standard program that regulates the carbon intensity of fuels. It will most likely be a regulatory process similar to that for renewable electricity.

Questions About Cost and Price

How do stations determine the retail price of hydrogen?

Hydrogen stations estimate their operating costs—capital purchases, rent, utilities, insurance, maintenance, cost of goods sold—and amortize costs based on customers. Currently, the California Energy Commission also provides grants for operating costs.

To reduce the cost of hydrogen at the dispenser, two things need to happen:

  1. Reduce the costs to build and operate a station
  2. Increase the number of FCEV customers

Station developers continue to reduce costs, and Shell estimates that building 30 stations a year is enough to reduce component costs by half. First Element Fuels has stated that building stations with more storage capacity can reduce operating costs.

Increasing the number of FCEV customers is mostly achieved through the strategic deployment of refueling stations. Early customers need to see enough stations to have confidence that they can get fuel, and stations need to have a base load of customers.

Do you expect the retail price of hydrogen to be less in the future?

Yes. CaFCP members are collaborating on strategies that can bring hydrogen toward cost parity with gasoline. Some reduction will come from scale (more stations, more cars) and others may come from integration. We’re working on a white paper about those strategies that we expect to publish in 2018.

Can you change the unit of sale to reflect the per-mile cost of fuel?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology set the kilogram as the unit of measure for hydrogen and that unit has been adopted worldwide. This enables companies to develop hydrogen station equipment and testing devices with one unit of measure—not a different system for every country. The unit of measure isn’t likely to change.

Who is responsible for ensuring the dispensers are accurate?

In California, it’s the Division of Measurement Standards at the Department of Food and Agriculture. Because hydrogen is still a new fuel, DMS has a hydrogen program manager. If you believe a dispenser isn’t accurate, we recommend that you call the station developer (phone number on the dispenser or on SOSS).

Are station costs decreasing?

Yes. Page 47 of the Joint Agency Staff Report on Assembly Bill 8: 2017 Annual Assessment of Time and Cost Needed to Attain 100 Hydrogen Refueling Stations in California shows the average cost of hydrogen stations on a per kg/per day basis has decreased.

Questions About Station Development and Funding

If a city wants to get a station in their area, who would they contact to get the process rolling? How would you decide which company to have the fuel?

If you are interested in hosting or building a hydrogen station, please contact Joe Gagliano at info@cafcp.org. You’ll also find information at H2stationmap.com.

Which stations opened in 2017 and which are opening in 2018?

Stations that opened in 2017:

  • Riverside
  • South Pasadena
  • Lawndale
  • San Ramon
  • Torrance (upgrade from non-retail)
  • Fremont

Stations that are expected to open in 2018:

  • Ontario
  • Woodside
  • Mountain View
  • LAX
  • Thousand Oaks
  • Palo Alto
  • Emeryville (upgrade from non-retail)
  • Burbank (upgrade from non-retail)

Do you have more specific opening dates?

We update the spreadsheet on the station map on Fridays with information station developers provide. Some stations can look like they are completely done, but are in construction, commissioning, or waiting final permits. As with any construction project, the final inspections and permits can be a waiting game.

Can you fast track the stations in (name of city)?

Construction is the fast part of the development cycle. Stations that were awarded funding under GFO 15-605 are currently in the first development phase that the Joint Agency Staff Report on Assembly Bill 8 defines as  grant award to permit application filing. Figure 8 on page 26 provides development timelines for the last three station awards. Station developers have more experience now and expect this round of stations to be a shorter timeline. The National Renewable Energy Lab is also working on a “standard permit” that may also help the timeline.

Would a standard station configuration speed up development?

Each station developer has a design and equipment specification to speed construction, reduce costs, and operate more efficiently. The next round of stations will all be different than the stations we’re using today, though. The newest stations will have more storage and multiple fueling positions. Station design also must fit the space available and follow local building codes that include parking spots, accessibility, and esthetics.

Are there plans to build more pipeline stations (like Torrance) or bring the biogas station at Orange County Sanitation District online again?

Anything is possible and station developers will propose what makes the most sense. Not many gas stations are located near a hydrogen pipeline like the station in Torrance. The FuelCell Energy fuel cell at the Orange County Sanitation District was a great technology demonstration, but we haven’t heard discussion about putting it back on the property and resuming operation.

How are stations funded in California?

The Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) provides funding for all alternative fuels, and directs $20 million a year for hydrogen stations. The California Energy Commission awards co-funding for stations through a competitive grant process. The grants also provide funding for some station upgrades (Torrance and LAX), and for operation and maintenance costs for open stations. The grants are referred to by number, like Grant Funding Opportunity (GFO) 15-605. South Coast AQMD also provides funding for stations and station upgrades.

How many stations are coming in 2019? How many stations were awarded in GFO 15-605?

GFO 15-605 was revised in November and includes 21 stations in:

  • Santa Nella
  • San Francisco (3)
  • Berkeley
  • Sherman Oaks
  • Sunnyvale
  • Walnut Creek
  • Santa Monica
  • Oakland
  • Huntington Beach
  • San Diego
  • Sacramento
  • Campbell
  • Citrus Heights
  • Irvine
  • Beverly Hills
  • Studio City
  • San Jose
  • Redwood City
  • Mission Hills

The Notice of Proposed Award also has a long list of locations that passed the screening criteria, but were not funded.

Who is funding the stations in the Northeast U.S.?

They are privately funded by Air Liquide and Toyota.

Questions About Future Locations

Are stations opening or planned for downtown LA, Pasadena, Monterey, the San Joaquin Valley, or near the state line with Nevada?

Station deployment planning is an important process that considers many factors. The goal is to ensure that people can drive their FCEV as they do a conventional vehicle, but we also need to ensure that the early stations have enough customers to  to ensure high utilization. The California Air Resources Board created a GIS planning tool, CHIT, to help the state determine station coveragegaps.

CaFCP’s automaker members provided input to ARB and published a list of recommended priority areas for future hydrogen stations that has been incorporated into ARB’s recommended priority areas for future state funding. See the August 2017 ARB AB 8 report for the list of recommended priority areas for station development. 

What are the plans for stations in states neighboring California? For Manhattan?

CaFCP and its members have been focused on getting the station network started in California first. The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development is starting to work with other states in addition to those in the Northeast, and we began conversations with stakeholders in the Northwest (Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia). A network of stations is already under development in Vancouver, BC.

Currently, CaFCP focuses on planning inside California. Air Liquide is planning stations in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

What does Governor Brown’s new executive order mean for hydrogen?

On January 26, Gov. Brown issued Executive Order B-48-18 that increased the target for zero emission vehicles, set a new horizon of 2030, and identified funding for incentives, vehicle rebates, and infrastructure funding. Part of his order increases the State’s commitment to 200 total hydrogen stations by the end of 2025 (100 in AB8 + 100 in this order). California legislature needs to pass the proposed spending via the budget process to provide support outlined in the executive order.

Among the take-aways in this EO:

  • It reinforces and reiterates the State’s strong commitment to all ZEVs, including fuel cell electric vehicles
  • It lifts the cap on the number of hydrogen stations that can be funded each year
  • It includes trucks and buses

Questions about Specific Stations

Does the OCTA bus fill at Anaheim?

It fills at UC Irvine. OCTA will soon have 10 more fuel cell buses and will build its own hydrogen station in Santa Ana.

What about the Cal State Los Angeles station?

The automakers and government agencies continue to work with CalState LA to upgrade the station to full retail.

Why are some stations closed at night?

Some cities placed operational restrictions on stations before they open due to concerns about increased noise, increased traffic, etc. We hope that cities will lift these restrictions when they have experience with how the station operates.

Which stations are ADA accessible?

All retail stations adhere to California and Federal ADA requirements and passed city inspections. If you encounter accessibility problems at a hydrogen station, please contact the station developer at the number posted on the dispenser or on SOSS.