Hydrogen Fuel Stations Coming Soon to Hawaii

December 13, 2010, 9:17 AM HST · Updated December 13, 9:17 AM
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General Motors has partnered with The Gas Company, and the Hawaii state government to bring as many as 25 new hydrogen fueling stations to the Hawaiian island of Oahu.  The partnership aims to install the hydrogen infrastructure which would allow vehicles to transcend the island solely on compressed hydrogen gas.

Hydrogen powered cars have lost some of the environmentally friendly limelight to electric vehicles, though with the total vehicle range becoming a concern, hydrogen activists are quick to fire back..  Hydrogen powered vehicles, once mass produced, are expected to achieve more than 300 miles on a full tank, nearly eight times the all-electric capacity of the Chevy Volt.

For Oahu, the decision to lay the infrastructure necessary was an easy decision.  The Gas Company will provide the new hydrogen “pumps” with nearly 15,000 pounds of hydrogen gas, mostly waste product derived from synthetic natural gas production.  The Gas Company hopes to reduce its own dependency on oil, and move toward other, natural energy sources to further reduce its total eco-footprint.

Some 1,000 miles of pipeline infrastructure is already in place on Oahu.  That pipeline will be used to bring hydrogen to already existing gas stations which have agreed to install a new hydrogen fuel station.

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Each station will cost some $2 million, a small investment for what could become the leading source of personal transportation energy, and a new source of growth for rebounding General Motors.

An Industry Still Lying in Wait

The future of hydrogen fueled automobiles relies on already existing infrastructure to ensure practicality.  Unlike electric vehicles, which can be refueled anywhere an outlet exists, hydrogen vehicles require a new form of infrastructure.  Without the infrastructure, few consumers are interested in the cars, and without the cars, few companies or localities are interested in building the infrastructure.

To date, only a handful of hydrogen fuel stations have been installed in the United States, most of which appear along the pacific coast of Southern California as part of a development by Honda.  Both Hawaii and California have been leading test grounds for new fuel efficient vehicles thanks to new incentives, and high state-wide efficiency goals.

Both states have forged paths to lay the blueprint for hydrogen powered vehicles, hoping that other cities and states will adopt their tested framework.

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