Shell permanently shuts down all California hydrogen stations

Shell permanently shuts down all California hydrogen stations

February 15, 2024 0 By Julie Campbell

The energy giant has been a top H2 participant worldwide but is shutting all seven Californian locations.

Shell Hydrogen has announced that it will immediately and permanently close all seven of its hydrogen stations in California.

The oil company will no longer be operating its light-duty H2 refilling locations in the United States.

The closure of the hydrogen stations in California is a painful cut to the H2-powered car market that is already struggling to take off in the United States.  Moreover, California is the only state in the country where H2 is available for refueling fuel cell vehicles.

Until Shell decided to shut down its H2 refueling locations in California, it ran 7 of the 55 locations available to drivers in California. It was a part of the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership (H2FCP). Therefore, while this certainly causes pain to the small H2 community in the state, it isn’t likely to be a fatal wound.

A solid network of hydrogen stations has been a major challenge to H2 car adoption.

Automakers and gas giants have both been talking about H2 fuel cell passenger vehicles for a long time, particularly in terms of their potential as an alternative to battery electric cars.  The tech has seen a growing amount of uptake in commercial trucking and in heavy duty applications, but the passenger vehicle market hasn’t seen the same success in the United States.

hydrogen stations - Shell Logo on gas station sign

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While there are other hydrogen stations that remain open in California, losing the seven run by Shell will certainly be more than just a nuisance for drivers of the Toyota Mirai, Hyundai Nexo and Honda Clarity.  This will cut them off from very few options for refueling their H2-powered cars.

“Supply complications”

According to Andrew Beard, the Shell Hydrogen Vice President, the reason they were immediately and permanently shutting down the refueling locations was “due to hydrogen supply complications and other external market factors.” What Beard is suggesting isn’t difficult to understand.

The latest version of the H2FCP location map indicates that most Southern Californian H2 refueling facilities are either operating at reduced hours or are offline altogether. This isn’t anything new. These locations have been struggling with H2 shortages since last summer. This has made it quite difficult for Californian H2 car drivers to find somewhere to refuel. 

Each of the hydrogen stations on the H2FCP map has posted its own notice on the map to explain its current situation.

That said, the Iwatani filling location expresses what many of them have tried to say in their own posts. Iwatani is a Japanese industrial gas company and is one of the two leaders in the US filling location market.

“Our primary hydrogen supplier has experienced a disruption that will impact our access to hydrogen for the Hawaiian Gardens station,” reads the Iwatani hydrogen station post. “We currently do not have an ETA to return to normal service levels and will provide updates as soon as we have more information. We greatly appreciate your patience for the additional downtime this will cause.”

hydrogen news ebookOther locations have stated that they are not operating as they are under repair. That said, hydrogen stations on the whole appear to be suffering with reliability problems. Iwatani has filed a lawsuit against the company providing its refueling locations with their core technology. According to the legal filing, Iwatani accused the provider of failing to real-world test its equipment, of hiding defects, and of misleading the Japanese gas company.

On the whole, it’s clear that there are a great deal of challenges which must be overcome before California’s hydrogen stations are considered to be consistently reliable and available to drivers of H2-powered vehicles.

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