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The Race is On for Hydrogen Highways

Some fashions come and go as quickly as you can say “bleached jeans,” while others become an inexorable part of life on Earth. Between Governor Schwarzenegger’s recent dedication to a network of hydrogen fueling stations across California, and now the government of Canada’s plans to build a hydrogen highway from Vancouver to Whistler, British Columbia — it’s clear ‘Hydrogen Highways’ are now all the rage.

Vancouver, British Columbia – May 6, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] “The Hydrogen Highway will take us from the fossil-fuel economy we live in now to the new hydrogen economy,” said Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada, making the announcement at Globe 2004, a trade fair and conference on environmental technology and management. “Canada’s going to show the world that hydrogen fuel-cell transportation is more than a great idea – it’s practical, efficient and within reach. Hydrogen technology is part of our commitment to responding to climate change and creating new economic opportunities.” The government of Canada said the Hydrogen Highway project is part of a long-range plan to assist the country in moving toward greater use of hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles and other power-generation applications. The project will demonstrate a wide variety of fuel-cell products for transportation, stationary, portable and micro-power applications that can utilize the hydrogen fuelling infrastructure. “We’re on the cusp of a new energy era,” said David Anderson, Minister of the Environment. “Innovative clean-energy technologies, such as hydrogen and fuel cells, will be an increasingly important part of the growing global energy mix in the coming decades.” The Hydrogen Highway is expected to be up and running by the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which will take place in Vancouver and Whistler. A showcase for sustainable development, the Hydrogen Highway will allow visitors to travel in fuel-cell-powered vehicles between the Vancouver Airport and Whistler during the games. Bringing vast experience to the project is Firoz Rasul, who is the Chair of the Steering Committee managing the Hydrogen Highway project and chairs the Board of Ballard Power Systems. “Today, there is a global race toward commercialization of fuel cells and hydrogen in the automotive and power-generation industries,” said Rasul. “Long-term leadership will be in the hands of those who move the quickest. The prize is immense economically, socially in terms of quality of life, politically in terms of energy independence, and environmentally with an improved world in which we live. The Hydrogen Highway will confirm Canada’s leadership by accelerating the introduction of hydrogen and fuel-cell products.” Canada’s Hydrogen Highway is being financially supported by industry and government. The Government of Canada is funding three new projects that will support the Hydrogen Highway initiative and share $485,000 in Government of Canada funding through CTFCA. Sacrý-Davey Engineering Ltd. will develop a fuelling station, Powertech Labs will supply a new hydrogen generator, and Fueling Technologies Inc., an Ontario firm, has contributed a 10,000-psi (700-bar) hydrogen dispenser that will increase the energy available to fuel cells, allowing fuel-cell vehicles to operate over a greater range. The CTFCA will also provide $632,000 for management activities, for a total of $1.1 million. Fuel Cells Canada, a non-profit and member-driven national industry association, will manage the Hydrogen Highway initiative to solicit and encourage further widespread industry participation. Also announced were three new projects – the Vancouver Fuel Cell Vehicle Project, the Hydrogen High-Pressure Valve Development Project and the Hydrogen-Powered Delivery Van Project – designed to advance the development of fuel-cell vehicles. These projects will receive $5 million from the Canadian Transportation Fuel Cell Alliance (CTFCA), NRCan’s $33-million initiative formed to advance the use of fuel-cell vehicles in Canada.