Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Assessment

What is the true economic viability of the hydrogen-powered vehicle? Can a fueling infrastructure actually be created in the United States that supports the front-loaded demands of such a fledgling industry, while still being feasible on the supply side? Is it possible to effectively address the need for abundant fueling stations at the outset, even when initial demand is low? What will it take to make hydrogen an affordable, mainstream alternative to oil?

Those weighty questions and more will be on the table later this month at the NHA Annual Hydrogen Conference in Sacramento, California, when Larry Burns, VP of Research and Development for General Motors, makes a keynote presentation of GM’s newly released White Paper, “Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Assessment.”
The paper compares hydrogen’s retail cost with gasoline, and confirms the feasibility of pollution-free hydrogen production from a variety of renewable energy sources. GM came up with three key conclusions in its anaysis.

  • In the long term, customers will not have to pay more per mile for hydrogen than they do for gasoline today. Supporting data is provided by key infrastructure stakeholders, including Shell, GE, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
  • A balance must be achieved between the minimum investment to meet initial demand versus the value of abundant fueling station availability in support of fuel cell-electric vehicle (FCEV) sales growth. Geographic concentration and coordinated vehicle/infrastructure rollout will be part of the solution and the role that government plays will be crucial.
  • Business models based on the traditional notion of a gasoline fueling network are not necessarily optimal. GM will continue to explore alternative fueling infrastructure approaches that can address the low-volume transition period challenge and provide a kick-start to the infrastructure.
GM, along with Toyota, BMW, Honda, DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen will also be giving the public and the industry a chance to drive it’s hydrogen vehicles as part of the NHA Conference’s Ride and Drive program.
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