Sperling, director of ITS, said the executive order "sends a signal to
energy and car companies, as well as to consumers and citizens, that the
state is committed to pursuing the use of hydrogen." California is the
largest market for vehicles in the United States and has some of the
toughest laws for controlling vehicular emissions. Sperling said this
order would partially address the "chicken and egg" dilemma of which comes
first, the hydrogen cars or the fueling stations.
Clean Energy MINI at a station in Europe
Sperling said the market shift to hydrogen will be a slow process, and
automakers need projects like the hydrogen highway to feel assured that
there will be stations available when fuel-cell cars are ready. "You don't
want to walk into the church and not have the groom show up."
Sperling said the ITS facility is now used to power two fuel-cell cars
from Toyota that use hydrogen, and two internal-combustion-engine buses
that use a mixture of natural gas and hydrogen. The ITS facility currently
can accommodate only a small fleet of vehicles, but Sperling hopes that
someday it will be expanded to become an important hydrogen distribution
center. California has two other hydrogen fueling stations in Richmond and
Sacramento, but ITS was the first to meet Schwarzenegger's criteria for
capacity and public availability of hydrogen.
Sperling said the station relies on liquid hydrogen delivered by tanker
truck and then gasified on site so that it can be put into vehicles'
pressurized gas tanks. The long-term goal is to produce hydrogen there
from renewable sources, Sperling said, and ITS is developing wind, biomass
or solar energy sources. But Sperling says that for now, natural gas is by
far the easiest and cheapest method for creating hydrogen.
Sperling said the U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE) and Toyota funded the hydrogen
refueling station, and he's hopeful that additional money will become
available next week, when Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham is expected to
make funding announcements at the
National Hydrogen Association meeting in Long Beach, California.
Over the next
five years DOE will invest $1.7 billion in research and development of
advanced hybrid vehicle components, fuel cells, and hydrogen
infrastructure technologies, as part of the FreedomCAR Partnership and
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Sperling believes that now is the time for the federal and state
governments to accelerate hydrogen development as an antidote to global
warming. "There's an old Chinese proverb that says the best time to plant
a tree was 20 years ago. The next-best time is now."
fueling up Tuesday, Schwarzenegger signed an executive order calling for
his Environmental Protection Agency secretary, Terry Tamminen, to draw up
a blueprint for the so-called "Hydrogen Highway Network'' by January.
Tamminen will examine everything from how to finance the network to where
the 200 stations will be located. Currently, there are 17 hydrogen fueling
sites in California, including the one at UC Davis.
are about 60 hydrogen-powered vehicles in operation in the state now. In
the San Francisco Bay Area, the city of San Francisco recently began leasing two such
cars from Honda, and AC Transit uses a hydrogen-powered bus along routes
in Oakland and Berkeley.
First California Hydrogen Fueling Station for vehicles was officially
opened in Richmond, California in October 2002.
In his speech, Schwarzenegger stated the importance of clean air and a
healthy environment. Schwarzenegger said fueling cars with hydrogen would
reduce the state's health problems by minimizing emission and smog. "A
healthy environment is a healthy economy," he said. "Let's make California
a healthier and cleaner place for everyone."