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CaFCP report concludes California needs 68 hydrogen fueling stations by end of 2015 to support first commercial wave of fuel cell vehicles

Map of 68 hydrogen fueling stations: existing, in development and needed. Source: CaFCP. Click to enlarge.

To support the planned commercial launch of fuel cell electric vehicles by automakers in 2015 (FCEVs), California needs 68 hydrogen fueling stations in five clusters in which most early adopters are expected, according to a new report issued by the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP). These 68 stations should be in place by the end of 2015 in order to serve adequately the first approximately 20,000 FCEVs, the report finds.

The total cost to expand to 68 stations, and provide operations and maintenance support until the stations become profitable is estimated at $65 million. The initial cluster areas—requiring 45 stations—are Berkeley, San Francisco South Bay, Santa Monica/West Los Angeles, coastal Southern Orange County, and Torrance. An additional 23 stations in areas such as Pasadena and Sacramento will connect these clusters into a regional network and include major destinations such as Napa, Santa Barbara and San Diego.

With an estimated 53,000 vehicles on the road in the 2017 timeframe, more than 100 stations would be necessary to ensure the network has enough capacity for these additional vehicles. Building additional stations or completing station upgrades to meet market demands will likely be necessary by the end 2017 to serve this expected FCEV population, the report finds.

The report, A California Road Map: The Commercialization of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles, represents a collaborative and collective effort by stakeholders from industry, academia, non-governmental organizations and government to design a pragmatic road map for hydrogen station placement. It outlines the necessary steps for the vehicle and infrastructure market as it progresses through pre-commercial (2012-2014) and early commercialization (2015-2017).

The infrastructure deployment strategy described in this road map relies on ten years of lessons learned by industry and government during the initial deployment of FCEVs. This real-world experience was complemented by significant contributions from the University of California at Davis for stakeholder and cluster model research, and the STREET [Spatially and Temporally Resolved Energy and Environment Tool] computer modeling developed by the University of California at Irvine. This multi-pronged approach established the minimum number stations needed to provide convenient and reliable fueling for early FCEV customers. Initial station deployments will focus on key markets, linking these geographic clusters into regional networks, and further expanding into new vehicle markets and targeted destinations.

—“A California Road Map”

Determining the number and location of the the stations during the early commercialization phase was based on two guiding principles: station coverage and capacity utilization.

  • Station coverage establishes a local network by placing adequate fueling outlets in key markets.

  • Capacity utilization supports technology development, minimizes risk to station operators and builds business models to lower overall station costs. Sufficient utilization ensures station operators have a chance to make their business profitable.

Technical and non-technical factors influencing the specific placement of a hydrogen station include footprint, station performance characteristics and complementary uses.

The CaFCP team defined a robust network of hydrogen stations within each cluster as the number and location of strategically located hydrogen stations that a driver can access in six minutes or less of driving. This equates to having hydrogen outlets at 5-7% of the existing gasoline stations in the cluster. (The current gasoline infrastructure provides access in four minutes of driving time or less in all five cluster regions.)

The six-minute maximum travel time is based on previous optimization research, driver behavior surveys and a need to balance network coverage with network cost.

Analyses of alternative fuel stations have concluded that roughly 5% of the existing network of gasoline stations would need to offer hydrogen to allay drivers’ concerns, a metric which can be applied to each cluster or region.

Careful optimization of hydrogen stations is equally as important as the total number of stations offering hydrogen, where optimized locations are determined using driving time with the existing road infrastructure, the report notes. Using these criteria, this assessment determined a cumulative total of 45 stations would be required in the five clusters in California. To ensure infrastructure is available to customers in these markets, additional hydrogen stations are required to merge the clusters into a regional network.



Dave R

After 2 years of work, there's still less than 5 DC quick charge stations publicly available in all of California.

And these cost an order of magnitude less than what a hydrogen station will cost.

The cost to get one hydrogen station installed would fund a dozen QC stations that would service thousands of electric vehicles on the road TODAY.

What makes more sense?


I never understood the fetish for hydrogen. It is expensive and a net-energy sink.



yes hydrogen for powering car is an hoax but it is pushed by big oil. if the cars go electric, big Oil has nothing more to sell, if the cars go H2 then big oil want to control the supply and distribution of H2.

don't look further, EV car is not a business model for Big Oil when H2 is, end of the story...

Roger Pham

H2-FCV is supported by the entire automotive industry as well as the DOE. H2 makes sense because it enables ZEV's as CARB has been wanting since the 1990's, but EV technology back then did not make BEV nor FCEV practical. EV's in the forms of BEV, PHEV, and FCEV further enable the use of renewable energy as fuel.

Now, we see that PEV's (Plugged-in EV) ,in the forms of BEV and PHEV, are selling in the low ten of thousands yearly and the sale number will accelerate fast with the introduction of the Ford C-mas Energy as being less expensive and more spacious than the Volt and more AER than the Plugged-in Prius, as well as newer and even more cost-effective PHEV's. PEV's are getting a decisive head start over FCEV, make no mistake about it, and no one is neglecting PEV's.

Any company can supply H2, so Big Oil's role is not necessary in this. Big Oil, with their very deep pocket, can also invest in BEV's quick charging infrastructure as well, if this will turn out to be profitable. In fact, Exxon was a very early investor in PV panel research, and BP (British Petroleum) and Shell oil invests significantly in PV panels as well. These PV panels will one day produce H2 from excess solar energy that will benefit humanity.

Kit P

Roger you are a very good writer. Have you considered writing fantasy books for children?


That is elsewhere emission vehicles.

“further enable the use of renewable energy as fuel. ”

Speaking of fantasies!

“sale number will accelerate fast ”

Sales are approaching zero.

“no one is neglecting PEV's ”

Judging from sales, not very many are taking them seriously.

“Any company can supply H2 ”

Very few companies have the ability to meet safety standards of handle hydrogen.

The basic problem is few take California seriously when it comes to energy matters.


They didn't say how they will make this hydrogen. They can make it with water electrolysis and also with natural gas transformed in hydrogen at the station.

I prefer water electrolysis as it pollute less and all the process is done at the station.

Im sure that over time this hydrogen will sell at 1$ to 2$ a gallon equivalent ( 1 kilo ).


Those advocating ignoring hydrogen and fuel cells do not seem to have noticed that the fish aren't biting for BEVs.

After all the talk of the impossibility of providing a hydrogen fuelling network, the actual costs are trivial to provide adequate coverage.

I can't be bothered to rebut the conspiracy theories about hydrogen and big oil.
Keep your tin hats tightly fastened.

Kit P

There are different school of thought about what is a good idea. Not driving aggressively, driving less, and carpooling are good ideas. The best part is these ideas cost me nothing so I can ignore all those who are trying to sell me something very expensive and unproven in practical applications.

There appears to be a lot of money in California for showing how smart you are by making bad ideas work. Storing energy in batteries or as hydrogen is inherently very, very inefficient. Furthermore, these technologies add a lot of weight to cars and trucks again increasing fuel use.

Hydrogen and batteries are in strong competition for the worse idea award.

I can't be bothered to rebut the conspiracy theories about hydrogen and big oil.
Because it's hard to deny that the Bush cancellation of PNGV in favor of hydrogen wasn't a sop to the oil companies, at least if you want to keep both your self-respect and a straight face.

There is a massive study here of future transportation in the US:

Some here will perhaps dismiss it out of hand, as it is from the National Petroleum Council, but I have managed to wade through most of it, and it seems to be pretty middle of the road to me, including no hyper-optimism on the future price and supply of oil.
Here is the link to the pdf for the hydrogen and fuel cells part of the study:

Highlight are that they give the early costs of fuel cell vehicles at around 1.4 times the cost of ICE, but dropping to reasonably competitive levels.

Infrastructure costs are reasonable and the price of hydrogen too, due to the superior efficiency of fuel cells, even though the study allows for the cost of taxation to be equalised with petrol so adding $1 kg, more than for petrol to equalise revenue.

A notable point they raise is that since a larger proportion of the costs of hydrogen and fuel cells is balance of system money, with the base cost of the natural gas, the cheapest way of producing hydrogen, being a smaller part of the cost than NG used in combustion engines, and so would fluctuate less than gas or petrol.

A difficulty they mention I had not paid sufficient attention to, the space requirements of the infrastructure at gas stations.
AFAIK although land is more expensive and limited in Europe they do not have the same restrictions from legislation on putting it underground, which should help.

The additional cost of using renewable resources such as biogas would also seem to be fairly affordable, obviously much more so than just burning the gas in an ICE as fuel cells even allowing for conversion losses are more efficient.

They use a price for natural gas which is realistic to actual production costs, of around twice present levels, and of the present uneconomic rates, so their conclusions are robust.

Unless like Kit you apparently feel that petrol is in unlimited supply for ever and are happy to continue breathing in it's fumes, then moving on either through hydrogen or batteries would seem a good idea.

One thing to be aware of is that they use data only up to 2009, although this is a 2012 series of reports.


'Because it's hard to deny that the Bush cancellation of PNGV in favor of hydrogen wasn't a sop to the oil companies, at least if you want to keep both your self-respect and a straight face.'

That does not indicate that it is appropriate to dismiss the use of hydrogen, or that the technology does not work.

In my view technologies should mainly be evaluated on their own merits rather than dismissed on the grounds of guilt by association.

Hitler did not smoke.
That does not mean that we should all take up smoking.

Fuel cells and hydrogen are simply far more efficient and practical for moving large weights long distances than batteries, with even the mighty Tesla with it's expensive 85kwh battery having limited range at highway speed.
3-400 miles are no problem with fuel cells.


By 2020 or 2025, both batteries and FCs will be able to power a passenger vehicle 500+ Km at normal speed before being re-fueled or re-charged.

The winner will be the technology which is more convenient at a lower initial/ongoing cost. It seems that EVs may win for short range city type vehicles and FCs for long range vehicles, but that may change with a breakthrough on battery technology.

FCs are more suited for heavy long range vehicles (buses, trucks, cranes, garbage trucks, locomotives, ships etc).


@ dursun

I case you haven't noticed FC vehicles solve 2 basic problems which consumers expect in a vehicle. EVs have yet to solve the range and quick fill up problem with today's battery technology. If and when batteries are developed to the point when these shortcomings are solved consumers will be beating down the doors at dealers selling EVs. Until then FC vehicles may be the best interim option.

Kit P

“Unless like Kit”

Davemart what system do you use that allows you to breath your exhaust? Where we live we have clean air. The present regulations on ICE are more than adequate. Will HFCV & BEV help California? I would be surprised if it helped.

As far as ‘unlimited supply’ I suggest that Davemart go to a local college and take a science course that covers thermodynamics. The energy in ‘hydrogen or batteries’ has to come from someplace. Converting fossil fuel to electricity or hydrogen is a bad idea compared to just using fossil fuels directly. Production of either electricity or hydrogen use very inefficient thermodynamic cycles.

Since I work in the nuclear end of the power industry, I am not worried about producing an ‘unlimited supply’ of energy. We might run out of fossil fuels several hundred years after I die so I think I will put off buying a HFCV & BEV until my second or third reincarnation.


@ Davemart

Stalin smoked which is one reason why there are idiots in the West who still smoke.

If it was good enough for Uncle Joe it mustn't be all bad.

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