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California Legislators Deflate Hydrogen Highway

During their work on the budget, California state lawmakers on Thursday approved just slightly more than 60% of the funds Gov. Schwarzenegger had recommended to begin building his Hydrogen Highway.

The administration had recommended spending $10.7 million a year over the next five years; AB 141 specifies spending an initial $6.5 million on the project.

The approved funding will support up to three demonstration hydrogen fueling stations in the state. The hydrogen stations must, according to the bill, use renewable energy to produce and dispense hydrogen, or must combine fuel dispensing with electricity generation to power the station.

According to the Mercury News, resistance to the governor’s full recommendation was bi-partisan.

Some Democrats questioned the expense. They raised concerns about whether the money would be better spent on schools, and whether taxpayers or private companies will own the hydrogen fueling stations the money will help construct. Republicans also questioned whether the technology for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles is viable.



Hydrogen will *NEVER* become a practical fuel for automobiles.

BioDiesel and Alcohol is the way to go.

If Ronnie Raygun had been alert enough to have gotten the message - and done something about it - that is what we all would be driving now.

Forget about bushit. He'll never figure it out.


Agreed. H2 is a really dumb idea. People need to remember that hydrogen is not an energy source. It is an energy carrier, and a very inefficient one at that. We'd be better off driving battery-electric vehicles, with the electricity coming from wind, solar, and maybe nuclear, if the first two won't meet the demand. Hydrogen is costly to produce, unless you get it from petroleum, which is getting more expensive itself. Hydrogen is difficult and dangerous to transport, and the technology to run vehicles on it is going to remain far more expensive than the common person can afford for the forseeable future, even with economies of scale kicking in. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb... on all counts. The only think hydrogen is good for is reducing tailpipe pollutants, but you have to consider the pollution generated in the extraction of hydrogen fuel, too.


There is no singular "way to go."

There won't be enough petrol forever.
It's not clear that there's a net energy gain from ethanol.
It's not clear that there's enough cropland to grow enough bioDiesel.
There isn't enough power generation to run all vehicles off of the grid.

In fact, it seems like we'll have multiple fuel systems overlapping, with assorted 'hybrids' helping bridge the availability gap.

Will hydrogen become part of the solution? Well, in the long term, it would sure beat petrol, that's for sure. I think California would be smarter in the short term to invest that money in other fuel-savers, such as better mass transit, rail improvements, and subsidies on high MPG vehicles*.

At the end of the day, a diverse fuel system for automobiles that helps to marginalize our dependancy on oil is good progress.

* as well as higher taxes on low MPG vehicles.


I wrote to the Governor and to the Assembly, stating my opposition to the Hydrogen Highway ... so maybe I helped tilt this a little bit. Who knows.

As it happens, I received just yesterday a response from the Governor, which stated in part:

"On October 22, 2004, I unveiled the hydrogen-burning Hummer as well as the State's first retail hydrogen fueling station. This demonstrates the viability of hydrogen fuel technology."

My comment now is that if we are this proud of our boondoggles, we are in serous trouble.

There isn't enough power generation to run all vehicles off of the grid.

Nameplate generating capacity of the US grid:  in excess of 950 gigawatts.
Average electric consumption of the USA:  roughly 440 GW.
Average power used by the transportation sector, estimated generously:  183 GW.

If the total transport energy needs of the USA were met by battery-electric vehicles which were charged overnight (off-peak), the existing grid would meet their needs without even breathing hard.


Its all a matter of timing. Home and workplace charging units will need tamper-proof timing controls to prevent overloads during the afternoon rush.
Here in Michigan power interruptions are annual events sometimes lasting for days. I recall an ice storm which pulled the plug on an entire city for 2 weeks. Florida residents went weeks without power several times during hurricane season. Straight EVs are not a practical option in much of the country. Plug-in hybrids with biofuel in the tank that can also provide emergency power to homes and businesses would be a godsend in many parts of the country.


Funny, in Ann Arbor the worst power outage in my memory was after the big storm of 1980.  After that was about a day of outage after 8/14/03.  I've had some minor interruptions for line work her and there.

You must live in a different Michigan than I do. ;-)


I am so glad that there are others that see this hydrogen thing as a boondoggle. With electricity, the fuel distribution system is there. Outlets are every where.

I'm just throwing out ideas here, but why not a plug-in hybrid with an ICE that burns ethanol? For my errands around town and my wife's short commute to work, the ICE should never have to kick in.

It just seems to me that bypassing electric and plug-in hybrids to reach for hydrogen would be like trying to land a man on Mars BEFORE trying the moon.

Duane Nickull

Using hydrogen as a terrestrial energy carrier is a *really* dumb idea. Hybrids make much more sense.

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