California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) has released an action plan that details a strategy for deploying hydrogen fuelling stations and fuel cell vehicles in California.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle and Station Deployment Plan: A Strategy for Meeting the Challenge Ahead, specifies the steps needed to meet the fuel needs of 4,300 passenger vehicles and 20 fuel cell buses, by 2014, and prepares for even more growth throughout 2017.

The plan calls for 46 retail hydrogen fueling stations in six key California communities, at a cost of about $180m over four years; $60m from industry and $120m from government.

Catherine Dunwoody, CaFCP’s Executive Director said, “By 2017, automotive manufacturers plan to place 50,000 zero-emission fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) in customer hands.”

She added, “FCVs will provide the performance, durability, driving range, and comfort that customers want, and meet the nation’s need for a domestic fuel that is better for the environment.”

The California Fuel Cell Partnership’s action plan has three focus areas; firstly, to develop early ‘hydrogen communities’ for passenger vehicles, with clusters of retail hydrogen stations in four Southern California communities: Santa Monica, Irvine, Torrance and Newport Beach, with additional stations to support the next identified communities and a network of connector stations.

Next, to expand the transit programme in the San Francisco Bay Area, with new mixed-use stations that provide fuel for passenger vehicles and transit buses, as well as dedicated retail hydrogen stations for passenger vehicles.

And finally, to develop codes, standards and regulations with a state-of-the-art hydrogen station in the Sacramento area that will enable regulatory agencies to validate new test procedures as well as provide fuel for passenger vehicles in the Sacramento area.

To date, 250 demonstration vehicles—passenger and transit buses—have been placed on California’s roads.

They fuel at 26 hydrogen stations in the state, most of which are small, built to fuel a specific fleet of cars for a limited period.

Only six of California’s current stations are useable by all the automakers and their customers, the state will need 50-100 hydrogen stations in just eight years, which will require the collaborative efforts of multiple industry and government entities.

“It’s important to start today,” concluded Ms. Dunwoody.

“Building hydrogen stations to meet customers’ fuel needs in 2014 will put California on the path to the early commercial market for fuel cell vehicles. FCVs will help reach California’s goals for improving our air quality, securing our energy future and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”