2018 Annual Hydrogen Evaluation
Over the past twelve months, there has been a significant shift in the momentum of California’s hydrogen fueling station network development and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) deployment. Growth of the on-the-road FCEV fleet has continued to accelerate year-over-year, with 4,411 FCEVs registered to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as of April 4, and the most recent industry estimates indicating a total of 4,819 vehicles deployed through May of 2018 . The hydrogen fueling network has gained seven additional OpenRetail stations, for totals of 36 Open-Retail and 28 additional funded stations.
This network development has largely kept pace with projections provided one year ago, and the growth of the FCEV fleet is within the range of projections provided by auto manufacturers in annual surveys completed over the past four years. Many of the stations that remain under development were initiated through the most recent grant funding program, Grant Funding Opportunity (GFO) 15-605 (with station awards approved at Energy Commission business meetings between June 2017 and January 2018). Even though these are the most recent stations to begin their development process, some of them have been reported to be on pace to open prior to the close of 2018. This would represent a major improvement in the pace of individual station development timelines.
The California Energy Commission (Energy Commission) also accomplished a first-of-its-kind milestone for the State, awarding grant funding to a hydrogen production facility to supply two tons per day of 100% renewable hydrogen to California’s growing network of retail fueling stations. This project begins to address the potential gap in hydrogen production capacity identified in last year’s Annual Evaluation, especially in-state and renewable hydrogen production capacity.
Projections for FCEVs and hydrogen stations in the future have greatly increased. In January, Governor Brown issued Executive Order (EO) B-48-18. Among other provisions, the order sets an additional hydrogen station network development target of 200 stations by 2025 . This is double the current target in Assembly Bill 8 (AB 8; Perea, Chapter 201, Statues of 2013) but set only two years later . Meeting this ambitious target clearly requires accelerated effort on the part of the State to ensure its achievement. The EO additionally sets a target for 5 million ZEVs by 2030; FCEVs are expected to comprise a significant portion of this future ZEV fleet.
Moreover, the public/private California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) members recently published an equally ambitious shared vision for the potential growth of the industry to 2030. In their vision, the targets of the Executive Order are a stepping stone on the path to 1,000,000 FCEVs on the road by 2030, supported by a network of 1,000 hydrogen stations . Predicated on the continuing development of regulatory and policy environments sufficient to sustain this remarkably swift growth, CaFCP members anticipate:
- diversification of hydrogen and fuel cells into other transportation sectors
- a retail fueling experience that provides station and network convenience on par with today’s gasoline station network
- hydrogen fuel that is cost-competitive with gasoline on a per-mile basis
- the potential for increased renewable hydrogen production, and
- a transition away from government financial support and towards industry financial self-reliance
Accomplishing these goals in such a short period of time also requires a significant change in the pace of developments going forward, along with combined resolve and commitment from all stakeholders.
As ambitious as these goals may be, they are not without merit. The experience to date through the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) has already proven that focused activity and year over year commitment can create a nascent hydrogen fueling station network. That effort has enabled the deployment of nearly 5,000 FCEVs to California’s roadways.
These milestones were made possible by a similarly ambitious earlier vision of the path towards commercialization. Taken together, these achievements appear to indicate a turning point in the State’s efforts to ensure hydrogen as a viable zeroemission transportation fuel to help meet the State’s future greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emission reduction goals.
The analyses presented in this year’s Annual Evaluation are guided by the requirements outlined in AB 8 and rely heavily on CARB’s participation in the State’s implementation and ongoing public-private cooperation and collaboration. From these informational resources, CARB has outlined our determinations within this report.