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GM, more than a dozen companies to build 20 hydrogen fueling stations by 2015 on Oahu


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GM, more than a dozen companies to build 20 hydrogen fueling stations by 2015 on Oahu

By Chrissie Thompson


General Motors is partnering with more than a dozen companies to build 20 hydrogen fueling stations by 2015 on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, ahead of the expected arrival of fuel-cell vehicles.

The Gas Company, a Hawaiian utility, already makes enough hydrogen each day to power at least 7,000 hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and has promised to make more for the fueling stations, said Charlie Freese, GM’s executive director of global fuel cell activities. The current hydrogen is a byproduct of making natural gas from petroleum, he said, but The Gas Company is also starting to use animal and vegetable fats.

GM and its partners have targeted Hawaii for their fuel-cell project because the islands get about 90% of their energy from imported oil. Since that’s so expensive – and since a delayed oil shipment could cripple the state – Hawaii has a goal of reducing its petroleum reliance by 70% over the next quarter century, Freese said.

Freese declined to give the financial details of GM’s investment. But he said the automaker has already spent $2 billion on fuel-cell development, giving it an incentive to help set up ways for consumers to get hydrogen to use as fuel.

Hydrogen fueling stations can generally support 1,000 to 1,600 cars each, Freese said.

GM has already let consumers test fuel-cell versions of the previous model of its Chevrolet Equinox crossover. The automaker’s current fuel-cell system has a 300-mile range, can refuel in three minutes and fits in place of an engine to power its sedans and crossovers with minimal alteration, Freese said.

GM has not announced production of any fuel-cell vehicles, but would be ready for production by 2015, Freese said. Other automakers have said they would also be ready by then. Honda already has the FCX Clarity, a fuel-cell electric car. Toyota is planning a fuel-cell car by 2015, while Hyundai plans one by 2012.

Read more: GM, more than a dozen companies to build 20 hydrogen fueling stations by 2015 on Oahu | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20101208/BUSINESS0101/101208007/GM-more-than-a-dozen-companies-to-build-20-hydrogen-fueling-stations-by-2015-on-Oahu#ixzz17Wl92vkw

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GM, Hawaii boost hydrogen

Goal is network of fueling stations for fuel cell cars by 2015

Christina Rogers / The Detroit News

General Motors Co. is taking a big step toward making hydrogen-fueled vehicles a retail reality — at least on the Hawaiian Islands.

The Detroit-based automaker will announce today it is partnering with 12 major stakeholders in the Aloha state to build a network for fueling hydrogen-powered cars.

The automaker itself won't provide the hydrogen fuel cell cars, a technology it's still developing. But General Motors is trying to ready the market for their introduction, which could be as soon as 2015, said Charles Freese, GM's executive director for fuel cell activities.

The project, code-named the Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative or H2I, includes government agencies, utility companies, gas retailers and the military, which has a large presence and many bases on the islands. It aims to install as many as 25 hydrogen fueling stations on Oahu by 2015 and work with utilities to find ways of piping the fuel throughout the island.

GM hopes to better understand the real-world benefits and challenges of hydrogen fuel as it seeks to build vehicles powered by this emissions-free energy source. Hydrogen fuel is more efficient than gasoline and only emits water vapor.

The automaker has spent $1.5 billion on hydrogen fuel research and has a test fleet of about 100 fuel cell Chevrolet Equinox vehicles on the road.

But getting enough hydrogen fuel stations road side has been a hurdle to making fuel cell vehicles market-ready.

"If you go back into history, there has been one lingering, nagging thing that's always been a challenge," Freese said. "What do you have first: the cars or the fueling infrastructure?"

Hawaii offers the perfect test bed, he said. Motorists can't leave the island. Gas prices are typically higher in Hawaii than elsewhere across the country because it imports all its petroleum. And state utilities must make their own natural gas, and hydrogen is a byproduct.

State officials have set a goal of reducing Hawaii's petroleum consumption 70 percent by 2030.

"Hawaii is likely to be one of the first markets to open up to fuel cells," Freese sai

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20101208/AUTO01/12080328/GM--Hawaii-boost-hydrogen#ixzz17WpAQPn1

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GM Setting Up Hydrogen Fueling Network In Hawaii

Fuel Cell Vehicles “an essential building block” in clean paradise.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Dec.08, 2010

GM and its new partners plan to set up a hydrogen fueling network, in Oahu, for vehicles like this Chevrolet Equinox FCV.

It’s about to get a bit cleaner in paradise. General Motors and 10 of its partners plan to set up a hydrogen fueling network in Hawaii, by 2015, that could make the island state the first truly viable market for zero-emission fuel cell vehicles, or FCVs.

Dubbed the Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative, or H2I, the project has the twin goals of reducing both automotive emissions and the state’s dependence upon foreign oil, sponsors said. Currently, 90% of Hawaii’s energy needs are served by oil, but proponents are looking to harvest renewable power, which is available in abundance – some of which can be used to cleanly produce a steady supply of hydrogen gas.

“In Hawaii, we want to address the proverbial chicken or egg dilemma,” said Charles Freese, executive director of GM Fuel Cell Activities. “There has always been a looming issue over how to ensure that the vehicles and the necessary hydrogen refueling infrastructure are delivered to market at the same time.”

Fuel cell vehicles, such as a version of the Chevrolet Equinox GM has been field testing for several years, are similar to the new battery-electric vehicles now beginning to reach market. Their wheels are turned solely by electric power. But instead of a battery, FCVs rely on a source of energy known as a “stack.”

Honda has set up a solar-powered hydrogen refueling station near Los Angeles for the maker's FCX Clarity.

Hydrogen is piped into one side and the gas then passes through a special membrane to combine with oxygen from the air we breathe. In the process, a current is created that can be used to turn the wheel motors. Meanwhile, the only by-product is water vapor.

The challenge has been to come up with a steady and readily attainable supply of hydrogen. The gas is the most abundant element in the universe but on Earth is not available in a pure form and must be obtained in a variety of ways. But some require the use of “dirty” sources, such as coal or natural gas. The potentially cleanest manner of production is to electrolyze water by applying a high-voltage current. To be truly clean, that energy should come from some form of renewable energy.

The choice of Hawaii is appropriate, as the island state has plenty of access to wind, solar, wave and geothermal energy and is making a push to tap into all of those sources. A 2008 partnership with the Department of Energy (DoE) aims to provide as much as 70% of Hawaii’s energy supply from renewables by 2030.

Last May, GM signed a memorandum of understanding with The Gas Company, one of Hawaii’s biggest utilities, which is already producing enough hydrogen to fuel 10,000 FCVs – and has the capacity to handle significantly more.

Under the H2I plan, a number of other companies, agencies and universities will join in with GM and TGC – 10 partners in all — with a goal of making a hydrogen refueling network a viable reality by 2015. Together they plan to set up between 20 and 25 fueling stations around the state’s most populous island, Oahu.

“Hydrogen, used as a fuel, will reduce our dependence on petroleum starting today,” said Jeff Kissel, TGC president and CEO.

The relatively small size of Oahu will make it easy to handle distribution of the gas – and its use by motorists. Hydrogen has a number of advantages, including not only its cleanliness but, when compared to battery power, the fact that a vehicle can get several miles in range and then refuel in a matter of minutes.

There are downsides, too, though. The gas not only takes a lot of energy to produce cleanly but it is difficult to distribute and store. The good news is that fuel cell stack technology has been improving at a rapid pace. GM’s latest system is barely half the size of the prior generation, produces more power and costs significantly less.

“Once the key hydrogen infrastructure elements are proven in Hawaii, other states can adopt similar approaches,” Freese said. “Germany, Japan and Korea are all building hydrogen infrastructures within this same timeframe. The work in Hawaii can provide a template for other regions.”

Over the last several years, as battery technology has come under the spotlight, the industry – as well as the federal government – has shifted attention away from hydrogen power. The DoE recently reallocated some funds first set aside for fuel cell development to battery programs. But many energy experts believe that, in the long-run, hydrogen is still the power source of choice for transportation.

GM is by no means the only automaker that has continued to work on fuel cell technology. Honda has been marketing a small number of FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicles to consumers in Southern California, where a limited fueling network already exists. Several German makers, including Daimler AG, have meanwhile partnered with the Berlin government to launch a program that could place 1,000 hydrogen fueling and battery recharging stations around that country.

And Iceland, another nation with no local oil sources but plenty of geothermal energy, is also hoping to convert to a hydrogen-powered automobile fleet in the coming decades, though its efforts were set back by the country’s recent financial meltdown.



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By Drew Johnson

Building on an agreement inked with The Gas Company earlier this year, General Motors has announced a new initiative to bring a viable hydrogen fueling infrastructure to the Hawaiian island of Oahu by 2015.

Dubbed the Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative (H2I), the plan calls for 20 to 25 hydrogen fueling station to be built across Oahu by 2015. The program is expected to make hydrogen fuel available to all 1 million inhabitants of the island.

As it stands, Hawaii depends on foreign sources for about 90 percent of its oil needs, but H2I is seen as a first step in reducing that dependence.

“In Hawaii, we want to address the proverbial chicken or egg dilemma,” said Charles Freese, executive director of GM Fuel Cell Activities. “There has always been a looming issue over how to ensure that the vehicles and the necessary hydrogen refueling infrastructure are delivered to market at the same time. Our efforts in Hawaii will help us meet that challenge.”

Although GM has yet to officially sell a hydrogen-powered vehicle, the Oahu infrastructure TGC says it currently produces enough hydrogen to power 10,000 fuel cell vehicles.



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