Total Recall?

That Arnold Schwarzenegger film title may be apropos for the California Energy Commission's decision last week to at least temporarily revoke about $27 million in grants earmarked for a string of hydrogen refueling stations through the state formerly governed by the action-film star.

Under the California Fuel Cell Partnership, about two-thirds of the grants were to be directed to Linde Group and Air Products & Chemicals. Those two companies were supposed to build the stations to accommodate the expected first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles in the middle of this decade, according to the Santa Monica Mirror. But there were issues.

The grants have been revoked so that the cash-strapped state can reassess the grant process, largely because of complaints that the two large companies more-or-less self-dealt the contracts. The way this allegedly happened is that at least one of the eight automakers involved in the California Fuel Cell Partnership (Chrysler, Daimler, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen) were required to approve any potential station location. But, the Mirror writes, "Suspicions of collusion in the grant approvals arose because Linde and Air Products executives interact at many meetings and because the carmakers approved only one refueling location not belonging to either of those companies."

In 2004, former California Governor Schwarzenegger approved the so-called California Hydrogen Blueprint Plan that set a goal of as many as 100 statewide hydrogen fueling stations by the end of 2010 with a longer-term phase goal of as many as 250 stations. The U.S. Energy Department says there are currently 23 stations in the state.

The hydrogen station flap is the most recent involving the most populous U.S. state and its efforts to broaden an infrastructure that would support zero-emissions vehicles. In March, NRG Energy reached an agreement for the state to invest $120 million to install more than 10,000 electric-vehicle charging points to be built by NRG that would comprise what's been billed as an "Electric Expressway." The settlement spurred San Francisco-based Ecotality to sue the state, because the agreement allegedly gives NRG an unfair advantage over companies like Ecotality in terms of charging-station market share.


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  • 28 Comments
      Brody
      • 2 Years Ago
      If Hydrogen is so superior, why has CNG not caught on? Almost every home has natural gas and CNG cars are sold of the lot and a lot of cabs use them? NG is cheap and a lot cleaner than Gasoline. I can tell you why: Because it takes the energy equivalent of 30-40 miles in a Volt just to compress the NG to 3500 psi and you need a CNG fill station that cost ~$4000 and takes all night. Might as well have a EV, haha. Its probably logistically simpler and cheaper to buy a EV, keep your old gas car or get a PHEV, then build the Hydrogen Highway. Maybe one day we will have Hydrogen range extenders for our EV.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Brody
        I think you are only talking about home Natural Gas compressors and fill stations. Taxi and Bus companies use MUCH larger (and more expensive) fill stations capable of filling a CNG vehicle of any size VERY quickly. A home unit might be good for a CNG/PHEV that only uses the ICE during longer out of town trips.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Brody
        Also, fracking.
      Ele Truk
      • 2 Years Ago
      I guess one of the good things about the backlash from Solyndra is that government seems to be keeping closer track of monies handed out for grants. Used to be a time that once the grant was handed out, government washed it's hands (until it came time to re-up the funding). Now it seems that shady deals get more light of day.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Proton have now built a PEM which can provide hydrogen at 5,000 psi, or 350 bar, so avoiding the need for a compressor where that pressure is enough and presumably reducing the cost in money and energy when 700 bar is needed: http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/05/proton-20120531.html
      Letstakeawalk
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here is the original Grant Solicitation / Application Package: http://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts/PON-11-609/01_PON-11-609_PON_Application_Manual.pdf Here is a revised FAQ for the Solicitation: http://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts/PON-11-609/PON-11-609_Revisions_to_Questions_and_Answers.pdf
      goodoldgorr
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just install small hydrogen dispensers at 5000 to 10 000 p.s.i at regular gas stations and grocery stores. It cost 10 000$ approx, last 20 years and is powered by water and small electric currents. Many grocery stores will be please to offer free hydrogen fill-up to attrack customers to buy chips, chocolat, milk-shakes, cigarettes, energy drinks, beer, gum, coke, coffee, etc.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        You're smoking the good stuff again.
        Nick
        • 2 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        "powered by water and small electric currents" -> HYDROGEN PRODUCTION CONSUMES HUGES AMOUNTS OF ENERGY ! WTF ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? Seriously man, stop doing crack.
          Chris M
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Nick
          Please realize that Gorr lives in a fantasy world where the normal laws of physics do not apply. I like his eccentricity, it's consistently amusing.
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      Do you think Linde and Air Products & Chemicals will build these stations without free government grants? I don't think EV chargers should get handouts either. Both should be short term loans that have strict payback criteria. Either way, not having public chargers everywhere won't much affect my decision to get an EV. Can't say the same about a Fuel Cell car.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        "Do you think Linde and Air Products & Chemicals will build these stations without free government grants?" Yes. The stations that have been built so far have been prototype stations, with the specific purpose of developing the equipment (standards and practices and safety) that will be used in future stations. Much of the work/research has been shared by the providers (Linde and Air Products) and government agencies (National Labs) and educational institutions (universities). The benefit of the public funding isn't to enrich Linde and AP - indeed they are contributing a substantial percentage of the funding - it is the collaborative research and development that is happening. The R&D process is sped up with this sort of Public-Private collaboration. Here's a few reports from DOE-sponsored hydrogen infrastructure activities in CA: "Air Products was selected under California Air Resources Board Solicitation 06-618, “Establish Demonstration Hydrogen Refueling Stations,” to install a renewable-based hydrogen fueling station and cleanup system for anaerobic digester gas at Orange County Sanitation District in Fountain Valley, CA. Under this project, hydrogen will be produced utilizing the Hydrogen Energy Station concept being developed under a second DOE project" http://www.hydrogen.energy.gov/pdfs/progress11/vii_6_heydorn_2011.pdf "The CSULA hydrogen station will deploy the latest technologies with the capacity to produce 60/kg/day, sufficient to fuel 15 vehicles or a bus and five more vehicles. The station will be utilizing a Hydrogenics electrolyzer, first and second stage compressors capable of fast filling at 10,000 psi (700 bar), 60 kg of hydrogen storage, water purification and equipment cooling system. The station will be grid-tied and powered by 100% renewables. The station will also be used as an applied research facility for equipment testing and verification, testing of fuel purity and dispensing accuracy." http://www.hydrogen.energy.gov/pdfs/progress11/vii_9_blekhman_2011.pdf "Much progress was made with respect to codes and standards. First of all, a decision was reached with respects to the 70 MPa fueling connector geometry. This subject was reason for intense discussions in working group titled International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 17268, “Gaseous Hydrogen Land Vehicle Refuelling Connection Devices”, which decided to keep the nozzle and receptacle design primarily used in Europe and United States. The same design was selected for Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J2600, “Compressed Hydrogen Surface Vehicle Fueling Connection Devices”. Consequently, the ISO and SAE teams were able to finalize and harmonize these documents." http://www.hydrogen.energy.gov/pdfs/progress11/vii_3_grasman_2011.pdf
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I'm not so sure... R&D is one thing... but a full scale roll out is going to be VASTLY more expensive and I somehow doubt Linde or any others would be willing to take on the risks themselves. So far, what has been done is just demonstrations. Companies view these demonstrations as short term investments to prove the technology and serves to foster outside investments. Actually building up the infrastructure on their own dime is going to be MUCH more expensive and must convince not only automakers and politicians... but American drivers to purchase FCVs. And that is VERY RISKY.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Yeah, that is a nice thing about EVs . . . no public infrastructure is needed. It helps alleviate anxiety among some buyers, but if you are just getting an EV as a commuter car, there is no need for public charging.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 2 Years Ago
      There was a lawsuit that led up to this. Earlier in May, this was reported: "A company called Hygen Industries, which develops hydrogen fueling stations based upon renewable resources and on-demand electrolysis, is claiming that member companies in the California Fuel Cell Partnership are rigging the system in order to avoid competition." I have no problem with halting the process in order to take the time to make sure that everything is being handled fairly. This isn't an end to hydrogen funding, this is a reappraisal of how that funding is disbursed. "The Energy Commission said it will not end its program of funding hydrogen refueling stations because “a robust hydrogen fuel station infrastructure is necessary to support automakers’ roll out of fuel cell vehicles to comply with the state Air Resources Board’s Zero Emission Vehicle program. Carmakers will meet that mandate with a combination of electric cars and fuel cell vehicles."
      Dave
      • 2 Years Ago
      The government can only speed up or slow down the inevitable by a few years.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      Considering the state of our finances, this is to be expected. I'm sure they are not going to refund the current California Solar Initiative as well . . . it is right at the tail end.
      RC
      • 2 Years Ago
      Finally some common sense kicks in. That money is better spent supporting the EVs that are already on the road and as subsidies to support those EVs seating in dealer show rooms.
      Scambuster
      • 2 Years Ago
      California is bankrupt. It has been for over 15 years, even with creative accounting and financing. Cutting back the construction of H2 fuel stations joins the long list of other cancelled programs in order to save money for more important projects such as supporting more welfare recipients; more money to the inept and corrupt LAUSD; and make-work projects for the powerful trade and police-fire labor unions that bought the election for Moonbeam Jerry Brown. As in his first term as Governor back in the 70s, Moonbeam wants to raise taxes, again, and set back California for another 30 years. It was Moonbeam and his fantasy ideology that initiated the anti-business, anti-employment, anti-capitalism in California. His favorite quote, "Less is More" has translated to less business, less industry, less manufacturing, less employment for all of California. The "More" part is more government agencies, more bureaucrates, more regulations, more taxes, more welfare recipients, more welfare state, and more sleazy politicians. It is any wonder California will remain bankrupt for two decades?
        Nick
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Scambuster
        Scambuster California has been very wasteful in its handling of public money, and I hope they cut back on the nonsense. However, let's not forget that CA is still one of the very best states in all America to live in. I can't emphasize how much better CA is than 90% of the other states. I wouldn't set foot in Texas or some other borins, flat land full of hillbillies and trailers.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Nick
          @ Nick, You really shouldn't respond to trolls like 'scambuster', whose only distinction is how many things he can get wrong in a single sentence. California is an astonishing state, with about $2 trillion GDP, California's economy is larger than all but nations ! But although as a visitor I have had some terrific times in California, the state certainly has it's share of depressing aspects. Each State I have visited in the US has it's good and bad aspects. Most recently, I visited Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, South Carolina and 2WM's neighbourhood of Colorado Springs. You can still discover 'America the beautiful' , if you look for it !
      Elmo Biggins
      • 2 Years Ago
      No surprise here. There AREN'T ANY HYDROSCAM CARS COMING TO USE IT. We already have a bridge to knowhere. Do we really need a highway for no one?
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