October 2017 Hydrogen Station Update Webinar - Questions & Answers

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

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. General Motors is showing off their Surus concept vehicle.

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.

Do you expect the federal tax credit for FCEVs to be reinstated?

Our sister organization, FCHEA, spearheaded an effort to reinstate the Section 48 Investment Tax Credit and is encouraging reinstatement of the consumer credits for FCEVs. We recommend contacting Bud DeFlaviis at FCHEA for more information.

Questions About Fueling with Hydrogen

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 and Air Products recently tested a new nozzle made by Walther at the UC Irvine station. Other manufacturers are starting to produce hydrogen nozzles as well. Station developers will implement fixes or new nozzles once they’ve proven to withstand freezing.

In the meantime, before you fuel give the nozzle a shake to dislodge any water that might be between the “teeth” inside the nozzle. If it does freeze to the car, 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.

Questions About SOSS

Do other websites and applications use SOSS data?

SOSS pushes data to “subscribing” applications, which includes the AFDC website. The CaFCP station map and mobile website only show the retail hydrogen stations in California.

Can you make a mobile version of the map?

We’re working on that now.

Does SOSS display the non-retail stations?

No. We don’t show the stations that are at universities or bus yards, but will display them as they upgrade to retail stations.

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, including the price.

Questions About Hydrogen Production

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 used as a transportation fuel must come from renewable sources.

Is electrolysis the only renewable pathway?

Renewable hydrogen can be made via electrolysis or from biogas. Today, stations that have 100% renewable hydrogen make their hydrogen onsite, but that takes up a lot of space. CaFCP members are investigating methods of making renewable hydrogen from a central location and transporting it to stations.

Can you clarify mechanisms for renewable hydrogen credits?

The California Air Resources Board Low Carbon Fuel Standard program regulates the carbon intensity of fuels. Originally adopted in 2009, LCFS is undergoing a regular amendment process for topics that include (1) protocol for carbon capture and sequestration projects (2) crediting provisions for refineries (3) renewable electricity and hydrogen crediting provisions (4) update to life cycle analysis modeling tool and (5) credit trading provisions.

CaFCP members are presenting ideas to the ARB for the hydrogen crediting provision that they believe will help the State meet goals for GHG reduction and increase low-cost, renewable hydrogen.

Can renewable hydrogen be used for power production?

Yes. Several California facilities have stationary fuel cells that use biogas from agricultural waste or waste water to make hydrogen that used in a microgrid. We’re working on a white paper that will have more about this topic and expect to have it published in early 2018.

Where does the renewable component come from? Do you have a referenceable source?

A number of station operators are using biogas in the production of hydrogen to meet the 33% requirement. In addition, some are also using renewable electricity in the hydrogen production process.
For a more general discussion of renewable hydrogen, 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 explains the renewable component and is a reference source

Questions About Cost and Price

How do stations determine the retail price of hydrogen?

Like every other business, 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 be far enough apart that each has a base load of regular 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 with the electric grid. We’re working on a white paper about those strategies that we expect to publish in early 2018.

What is the cost differential between stations that have gaseous and liquid delivery?

NREL is an excellent source of data about hydrogen stations. This chart summarizes the station cost by type. Appendix F of the Joint Agency Staff Report on Assembly Bill 8: 2016 Assessment of Time and Cost Needed to Attain 100 Hydrogen Refueling Stations in California also shows cost by station type.

Please visit NREL’s Composite Data page for all the hydrogen station data.

Are station costs decreasing?

Page 33 of the Joint Agency Staff Report on Assembly Bill 8: 2016 Assessment of Time and Cost Needed to Attain 100 Hydrogen Refueling Stations in California shows the cost reduction of stations that the Energy Commission funded. The 2017 version of this report will be published in January or February of 2018.

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.

NREL’s summary of hydrogen dispensing data shows the impact of market introduction.

Questions About Station Development

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.

What are the statuses of the following stations?

Station Status
Sacramento Two stations are listed in the NOPA for GFO-15-605 were approved by the Energy Commission in August 9. As soon as Shell reports their timeline, we’ll add the information to the station development worksheet.
Huntington Beach This station was also approved in the August 9 meeting and is estimated to open in 2019.
Burbank It's estimated  to be completed in early 2019.
Orange This station is temporarily on hold.

Have any stations slipped from 2017 into 2018?

Previously we estimated that Ontario, Woodside, LAX, and Mountain View would be open by the end of the year, but some may slip into early 2018.

Questions About Future Locations

Are stations opening or planned for downtown LA, 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 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 in addition to those in the Northeast, 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?

The retail stations currently being developed are for light-duty vehicles. Trucks will need their own stations for a few reasons:

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

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