July 2017 Hydrogen Station Update Webinar - Questions & Answers

You can find the video recording from the webinar here and presentation PDF here.
Please note that similar questions have been combined and summarized. 
Slide 13 has been updated after the webinar with a newer slide from Air Liquide.

Questions About Vehicles

Which cars are available now and are more coming?

The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, Toyota Mirai, and Honda Clarity are available at select dealerships in California. Mercedes has announced that a fuel cell plug-in, the GLC F-CELL is coming in 2017, but hasn’t released details yet.

Joe showed a chart that stated 2,200 FCEVs in California. Where did that number come from and who are the drivers?

Hybridcars.com provides a monthly sales dashboard of all alternative vehicles. It shows the year-to-dare 2017 sales and 2016. Joe also included the sales numbers from 2015. The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project provides a heat map of rebates for ZEVs, and each region displays the number of rebates issued year-to-date for each vehicle type. CaFCP doesn’t know the distribution of FCEVs between fleet and private customers, but we believe private customers are the larger segment of the market.

What factors are impacting FCEV sales? Is it low demand, low production volume, or not enough stations?

The automakers are conscientious about matching vehicle deployment with station availability. CaFCP members are focused on station deployment so that the automakers can get more cars in customers’ hands.

Questions About Fueling with Hydrogen

How long does fueling take?

Filling a car with compressed gaseous hydrogen takes less than five minutes. For the latest publicly available data on hydrogen fueling times, see NREL’s data page. Watch our short video to see how to fuel a car.

Can you explain the frozen nozzle problem?

Hydrogen is cooled to -40°C so it can be quickly dispensed. Cold hydrogen turns moisture in the air into frost on the nozzle and receptacle. Sometimes the frost becomes ice—particularity after back-to-back fuelings—and the cold metal of the nozzle latching mechanism freezes.

WEH, the company that manufactures most nozzles, is working with automakers and station developers to engineer a solution. Once developed, the station developers will implement the fix at their stations.

To prevent damaging the nozzle, please don’t pour water on it or twist it back and forth to try to force it off the car. You may have to wait a few minutes for the temperature of the nozzle to warm up enough to remove it from the receptacle. 

Do the stations use infrared communication with the car to ensure a full fill?

Yes. The IR component is in the thick plastic ring at the end of the nozzle, which is why you should not drop the nozzle or pour water on it.

Questions About Fueling with Hydrogen

Do the station operators tell you about downtime in advance, if so, how much in advance? Is that information sharing on a voluntary basis or a requirement of the CEC grants?

All stations funded by the California Energy Commission ARFVTP program are required to be on the CaFCP Station Operational Status System (SOSS), a near-real-time reporting tool for hydrogen station customers. Every few minutes, each station sends a signal to the SOSS database that reports that the station is online and has fuel. The SOSS database pushes that status to subscribing software, including the systems that the automakers provide and our own mobile website at m.cafcp.org and our station map.

SOSS information icon details example

When stations have planned downtime for maintenance, the operator tells CaFCP as soon as possible and we put it on SOSS. You’ll see an Information icon next to the station name and the dates and times of the planned outage in the station details page.

Have you seen many delays between the time that a station reopened compared to the estimated reopening?

Now that our reporting process is refined and station operators better understand how much time maintenance takes, SOSS is accurate within 30 minutes. Currently, we’re finding that the stations are open earlier than expected.

What does Limited status mean?

It means you might not get a full fill because pressure in the storage tanks is lower than normal. This usually happens when many cars have filled back to back or when the station is close to empty.

Questions About Hydrogen

How is the hydrogen produced?

Hydrogen can be produced and delivered to stations in several different ways.

Most stations dispense hydrogen made from natural gas. California, like many states, has existing production plants that produce hydrogen for oil refining, fertilizers, food processing, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing. Some stations make hydrogen onsite using solar electrolysis of water. Industry and government are currently exploring biomass or biogas as pathways for future large-scale hydrogen production. In California, 33% of hydrogen for transportation must come from renewable sources.

Is CaFCP pushing renewable hydrogen?

Yes. We support hydrogen made from all current and potential sources. Regardless of how the hydrogen is made, FCEVs powered by hydrogen significantly reduce GHG emissions and have almost zero criteria air pollutants, and every region of the world can make its own fuel.

Who makes hydrogen?

The largest hydrogen producers in the world are Air Liquide, Linde, Air Products and Praxair. United Hydrogen is the largest privately held hydrogen supplier. Other producers make smaller amounts of hydrogen and sell it to manufacturers and laboratories, and those producers may represent a future supply for hydrogen stations.

How is the hydrogen delivered?

Hydrogen produced at a central production facility is delivered by truck. Many stations use hydrogen delivered as a compressed gas and others use hydrogen delivered as a cryogenic liquid. Our H2 Station Map website provides more information about delivery and onsite production. At the Torrance station, hydrogen is delivered by a pipeline from the nearby refinery.

Well-to-wheels calculations that show impacts on energy, criteria pollutants, and GHGs include a calculation for delivering all fuels (gasoline, diesel, hydrogen, natural gas, ethanol, and electricity.)

Does hydrogen have a purity standard? Is it tested to that standard?

Yes to both. The Division of Measurement Standards, part of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, took the lead in developing SAE J2719 as the standard for hydrogen purity. All retail hydrogen stations are tested to the standard before opening to the public and are tested on a regular basis just as other fuels are tested.

Do you anticipate a hydrogen shortage when all 50+ stations are operating?

No. According to the latest data from EIA, more than 1 million cubic feet of hydrogen are produced at California’s refineries every day, and Air Products once estimated they have enough excess hydrogen to fuel 100,000 FCEVs.

What’s the peak demand in kilograms per day that you’ve seen?

NREL’s data through the end of 2016 shows that one retail station’s peak demand was more than 100 kg/day.

Questions About Station Funding

How are hydrogen stations funded?

The California Energy Commission administers the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicles Technology Program (ARFVTP) that provides funding to all alternative fuels through a competitive grants process. Legislation requires that ARFVTP provide $20 million a year until at least 100 hydrogen stations are open in the State. In addition, California’s air districts have the option to use Carl Moyer funds for local hydrogen station funding.

Does the price of hydrogen at the dispenser reflect the total cost of building and operating a hydrogen station?

No. ARFVTP provides competitive operating and maintenance grants to help station developers to be made whole while the number of cars is low. As more cars are on the road and using fuel, the cost at the pump will decrease.

Questions About Station Development

How long does it take to build a station?

Think of station construction in four phases:

  • Grant contracting and station design
  • Initial permit filing to approval to build
  • Construction
  • Confirmation

The time to build many of the hydrogen stations that opened in 2016 ranged from about 18 to 24 months, with some taking longer. With each group of stations, we learn where the process can be improved to help stations open faster.

Please see the 2016 Joint Agency Staff Report on AB 8 for more information about station timelines. (The 2017 joint CEC/ARB report is due to be released in December. Make sure you subscribe to our news alerts to know when the report is available.)

Do you have a second HySTeP system yet?

Not yet. Ultimately, hydrogen station confirmation testing will transition from ARB to third-party testing organizations. Several companies are in the planning process to develop additional HySteP testing devices with enhanced capabilities for confirming hydrogen station performance.

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?

Please contact Joe Gagliano at info@cafcp.org. You’ll also find information at H2stationmap.com.

How many stations passed, but did not get funding in the last ARFVTP funding announcement?

More than 50, and another 40 were eliminated because they had lower scores. Please see the Revised Notice of Proposed Awards.

You said there would be 500+ stations. Is that in the U.S. or California? Does that indicate the California is committed to FCEVs?

California is committed to zero emission vehicles; those that use fuel cells and those that use batteries. The Air Resources Board and Energy Commission support deployment of both. Diversity is necessary if we are going to eventually replace 34 million gas-powered cars with ZEVs.

CaFCP’s first roadmap described the actions necessary to reach a 100-station milestone. Now our government and industry members are working on the second roadmap that will describe the necessary actions to reach 500-700 stations. (We haven’t determined the milestone number yet.) While we’re focused on California, stations in neighboring states will be necessary to make sure people can travel freely.

Questions about Policy and Regulations

Is it legal transport compressed hydrogen over bridges or through tunnels in New York City?

Hydrogen has been used for more than 90 years in a variety of manufacturing processes. New York, like many cities, has designated roadways and times for delivery of certain industrial compounds and fuels, including hydrogen and gasoline. Due to their limited experience with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, the Port Authority of NY & NJ raised concerns about FCEVs passing through some of New York’s tunnels. CaFCP and several of our members are working together with H2USA to address the Port Authority’s concerns and we’ll provide updates as progress is made.

Can you explain the Ting bill and what it means for FCEVs? Are you doing anything about it?

Assembly member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) introduced AB-1184 that will provide a “portfolio of funding resources for the initiative to deliver the continuous funding of point-of-sale rebates” for vehicles and infrastructure through 2025. The bill’s language is specific to battery electric vehicles and smart charging. The bill will be heard in committee on August 21.

CaFCP does not lobby or advocate for or against legislation. We have provided Mr. Ting and other committee members with information about the benefits of FCEVs, existing funding programs, and the State’s commitment to all ZEVs.

Will the state rebate for FCEVs continue?

Fuel cell electric vehicles are eligible for a $5,000 rebate through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project.

Is CaFCP providing input/data about the next AB8 report or is it only the station operators?

CaFCP industry members provided consensus input to ARB on its soon-to-be-released AB 8 report. (ARB and CEC are also members of the California Fuel Cell Partnership). Government agencies also receive direct input from individual members.

Questions About Stations

What are the statuses of the following stations?

Station Status
Sacramento Two stations are listed in the NOPA for GFO-16-605. Approval for the award is on the consent calendar for the August 9 Energy Commission Board Meeting.
San Francisco Three stations are listed in the NOPA for GFO-16-605. Approval for the award is on the consent calendar for the August 9 Energy Commission Board Meeting.
CalState LA Station was funded before ARFVTP was available and was built as a non-retail station. The university is working with ARB and other stakeholders to develop an upgrade proposal, but the station remains unavailable for Mirai and Clarity drivers.
Torrance The station is closed for upgrade and planned to reopen in Q3 2017. Lawndale, Long Beach, and Playa Del Ray are recommended alternatives.
Thousand Oaks Has approval to build and expected to be open in early 2018
Cupertino CEC funds expired for this location and no replacement station is currently planned.
Lawndale Lawndale is open and Air Products technicians are addressing reported problems with the dispenser.
San Juan Capistrano Currently, some fills may end at 90% charge. Linde is investigating the issue.


Are stations set up for two dispensers?

The Torrance station will have two fueling positions, and all 16 of the newly awarded stations have either two hoses or two dispensers. All future stations need multiple fueling positions.

Regarding quiet zones, what parts of the process are "noisy?"

Some resident find compressor operation noisy; it’s about the same noise as the compressor for a large air conditioner. Station developers are addressing the issue with noise suppression walls and barriers.

Has the public expressed safety concerns or opposition?

CaFCP does quite a bit of outreach to residents early in the planning process. We bring cars to events, speak at Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce meetings, and attend meetings at neighborhood associations when applicable.

Most stations are in commercial or industrial areas. In a few cases, the station is near a residential area and neighbors already don’t like the noise, traffic, and smell from the gas station. Our messages are about replacing a gas car with a clean, silent car and that adding hydrogen can improve the look of the station.

Questions About Future Locations

Are stations opening or planned for North of Mill Valley, Temecula area, Redding, Highway 99, Ivanpah, or Cupertino?

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 make some business sense. The California Air Resources Board created a GIS planning tool, CHIT, to help determine coverage gaps.

CaFCP’s automaker members sent ARB a list of recommended priority areas for future hydrogen stations that will be incorporated into CHIT. 

What are the plans for stations in states neighboring California? For the middle of the US?

CaFCP and its members have been focused on getting the station network started in California first. The Governor’s Office of Business Development is starting to work with other states, and we recently had a meeting with Washington state about getting started. A network of stations is also under development in Vancouver, British Columbia. We’ll include progress on this topic in future webinar updates.

Questions about Trucks

Are you working with Nikola?

CaFCP’s staff have had a few conversations with Nikola and has extended invitations for them to join the Partnership or participate in some of our meetings. Nikola is still in the planning stages.

Which of the existing stations are truck compatible?

All the stations are for light-duty vehicles. Trucks will need their own stations for a few reasons:

  1. Trucks store about 10 times as much fuel as a car. One truck could nearly empty a station’s storage bank.
  2. Trucks take a longer time to fill. If you were second in line behind a truck, you could be waiting for 30 minutes.
  3. Trucks use a different fueling protocol than cars. The station would require a software reset between car and truck fueling.

See our medium-and heavy duty action plan for more about how the infrastructure to support trucks can roll out.