California Energy Commission and ARB report on status of hydrogen refueling station network

February 1, 2019. The California Energy Commission and California Air Resources Board (ARB) have released a joint report on the planning, design, development, and deployment of hydrogen refueling stations critical to supporting the adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

   This joint report satisfies an Assembly Bill 8 (AB 8) requirement for the two agencies to report on the remaining cost and time needed to establish the hydrogen refueling station network. The focus of the agencies’ efforts continues to be the development of a hydrogen refueling network that meets varied drivers’ needs and enables Californians to adopt FCEV technology seamlessly into their daily lives.

   Among the key takeaways of the 2018 report:

- This year, CARB approved a package of updates to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) regulation and included a new provision for Hydrogen Refueling Infrastructure (HRI) credit generation. HRI credits offer incentives for accelerated station deployment by providing a relatively assured revenue stream to offset part of the cost of station ownership during the early low- utilization period of the life of a new station. Combined with purchasing station equipment in larger quantities, the LCFS update may help achieve economies of scale.

- Hydrogen stakeholders are focused on scaling up infrastructure to meet the longer-term vision of “a network of 1,000 hydrogen stations and a fuel cell vehicle population of up to 1,000,000 vehicles by 2030.”

- California has 38 ARFVTP-funded open retail stations.

- The total daily hydrogen refueling station network capacity increased from 15,000 to 17,000 kilograms in one year. This increase in capacity is due to an increase in the nameplate capacity design, from 310 kilograms per day to 500 kilograms per day, for a dozen funded stations.

- There are 5,658 FCEVs sold or leased in California as of 1 December 2018. Based on auto manufacturer surveys, CARB projects 23,600 FCEVs in California by 2021 and 47,200 by 2024. A pathway to 1 million FCEVs by 2030 is not yet defined.

- The time spent before station developers filed an initial permit application decreased substantially due to critical milestone requirements.

- By 2024, the station network will need to provide nearly double today’s funded fueling capacity.

- The full remaining ARFVTP funding allocations will be needed to meet and exceed the 100-station goal by 2024.

- Public support and public funding remain necessary to achieve the 100-station goal, and more funding will be needed to support the 200-station goal.

   Assembly Bill 8 (Perea, Chapter 401, Statutes of 2013) directs the California Energy Commission to allocate $20 million annually, not to exceed 20% of the funds appropriated by the Legislature, from the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Fund for planning, developing, and deploying hydrogen refueling stations until there are at least 100 publicly available stations in California. The Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) funds the development of hydrogen refueling stations to support the early FCEV market and the increasing population of on-road FCEVs.