Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure
As zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) play a significant role in reducing California's greenhouse gas and smog emissions. The California Air Resources Board's (CARB) most recent Advanced Clean Cars program builds upon the ZEV regulation in place since 1990, and encourages rapid increases in deployment of ZEV technologies, such as hydrogen fuel cell and battery-electric vehicles.
Significant growth in ZEV deployment over the coming decades is necessary to meet the state’s climate and air quality goals. Deployment of sufficient fueling infrastructure for the coming ZEV fleet is a necessary first step, as recognized by the passage of Assembly Bill 8 in 2013. CARB staff coordinate with the California Energy Commission, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, the California Fuel Cell Partnership, and other stakeholder organizations to ensure hydrogen fueling infrastructure can enable introduction and wide-spread deployment of FCEVs.
Through its AB 8 program, the State of California co-funds the deployment of at least 100 hydrogen fueling stations to enable the launch of a consumer FCEV market. CARB provides annual evaluations of the status of deployment of fueling stations and FCEVs and analysis of needs for further development. CARB also coordinates with the California Energy Commission to annually report on the progress metrics of the Commission-led station funding program. In order to develop its recommendations for areas that require further hydrogen station development, CARB developed the California Hydrogen Infrastructure Tool (CHIT), a geospatial analysis tool built on publicly-vetted data and methodologies.
In addition, CARB coordinates with stakeholders through the public-private California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP). Since 1999, CaFCP has worked toward the goal of launching a successful FCEV and hydrogen fueling market within California, and has developed several vital products to support coordinated planning and to facilitate and enhance the FCEV customer experience. In 2012, CaFCP published a road map describing a 68-station network that could enable the launch of a consumer FCEV market. In 2018, the group published a further vision to 1 million FCEVs and 1000 hydrogen fueling stations by 2030 in their revolution document. CaFCP maintains an up-to-date station map so customers can easily locate open retail stations and track progress on stations under construction. Customers are also able to view real-time fueling availability through the CaFCP-maintained Station Operational Status System (SOSS).
Policy and Funding
Staff from CARB, the California Energy Commission, and Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), along with other state agencies, closely coordinate and work with other government and industry stakeholders to implement actions that support the development of a robust hydrogen and FCEV market.
Assembly Bill 8 (AB 8; Perea, Chapter 401, Statutes of 2013) remains a crucial driver to ensure California is prepared for commercial launch of FCEVs by providing a specific focus on development of the state’s hydrogen fueling station network. AB 8 dedicates up to $20 million per year to support continued construction of at least 100 hydrogen fuel stations. This focus will enable hydrogen FCEVs, along with other ZEV technologies, to play a significant role in meeting multiple policy objectives established by Governor Brown and the Legislature.
In addition to AB 8 and CARB’s Scoping Plan, the recently-updated Low Carbon Fuel Standard, Executive Orders B-16-2012 and B-48-18 provide strong policy drivers for accelerating commercialization of FCEVs and their associated hydrogen fuel station network. These policy drivers give clear direction for CARB and California Energy Commission to plan and fund the state’s hydrogen fuel station network for its growing FCEV market.
The State of California is co-funding the initial network of hydrogen fueling stations, in advance of vehicle launches, through the California Energy Commission’s Clean Transportation Program.
Historical Hydrogen Infrastructure Activities
AB 8 Annual Evaluations
California Hydrogen Highway Network
The California Hydrogen Highway Network (CaH2Net) was initiated in April 2004 by Executive Order (EO) S-07-04 under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The mission was to assure that hydrogen fueling stations were in place to meet the demand of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles entering California roads.
The CaH2Net was the first point of coordination between California government, academia and private industry stakeholders, establishing a shared vision in the form of a blueprint plan describing the actions needed to create a hydrogen highway. The blueprint plan guided government and industry efforts and led to initial policies and funding that set hydrogen on a path to rapid progression. While specific strategies have refined and evolved through continued planning, much of the thinking during these crucial early years set the foundation for California’s hydrogen successes.