A hydrogen fuel transition may be on the horizon

August 19, 2014 0 By Angie Bergenson

Study highlights the possibility of a hydrogen transition in transportation

The University of California’s Institute of Transportation Studies has released a new study concerning the commercialization of vehicles equipped with hydrogen fuel cells. These vehicles are verging on commercial launch throughout the world. Many automakers have plans to release their fuel cell vehicles to the market next year, while others will be doing so over the next several years. In the past, fuel cell vehicles were met with a general consensus that they would fail in any given market. This may not be the case, however.

Infrastructure will be the greatest challenge fuel cell vehicles face

The study notes that new trends have emerged in various sectors that will determine the ultimate success of fuel cell vehicles. New government policies and industry strategies will have a major impact on clean transportation, especially when it comes to infrastructure. Currently, most of the world lacks an infrastructure that would be capable of supporting fuel cell vehicles. Without an infrastructure, these vehicles would have very little support among consumers.

Fuel cell vehicles may spark the hydrogen transition

Hydrogen Fuel StudyThe research team behind the study suggests that the world is quickly approaching a point where a “hydrogen transition” is possible. This involves hydrogen replacing fossil-fuels as a primary energy source. Within the next four years, fuel cell vehicles may ignite the beginning of this transition, especially as more hydrogen fuel stations are being built.

A small, efficient infrastructure could support some 50,000 fuel cell vehicles

The study estimates that a regional investment of between $100 and $200 million to build 100 fuel stations, supporting approximately 50,000 fuel cell vehicles, would be enough to make hydrogen cost competitive when compared with petroleum. The infrastructure would be small, but it would provide a strong foundation upon which clean transportation could grow and thrive. The issue, however, is that the funding the infrastructure needs does not come out of thin air. In California, the state government recently invested $46 million in the construction of 28 new hydrogen fuel stations. States cannot support the financial burden of building an infrastructure by themselves and many have begun teaming with private groups.

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