AskPatty was present at the recent grand opening of the Shell
Hydrogen station in Santa Monica. This marks the first public hydrogen
fueling station at a conventional gas station in California, and is the
third hydrogen station Shell has open to American consumers. (Shell
also operates stations in New York, and Washington, D.C.)
Officiating at the launch, City of Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl said, "I am delighted that today, with support from Shell, we are able to continue to grow a safe and secure hydrogen infrastructure, that enables fuel cell vehicles to refuel more conveniently, as we move towards the future commercialization of clean transportation technology." Councilman Rosendahl was quite a dynamic host, jovially hamming up a fuel fill for the cameras, and animatedly expressing his appreciation for Mother Earth.
It was a pretty big event, attended by more than 50 television news and pressfolk, as this station is one more small step towards realizing California's "Hydrogen Highway" as envisioned by Arnold Schwarzenegger ever since he took the office of Governator in a State of the State Address on January 6, 2004 by promising: "I am going to encourage the building of a hydrogen highway to take us to the environmental future... I intend to show the world that economic growth and the environment can coexist."
As a further example of the eco-friendly importance of this station,
Hydrogen supplied here is produced on-site by the electrolysis of water
using 'green electricity' purchased from the Los Angeles City
Department of Water & Power. It will then be compressed and stored
to provide daily fueling. The 350-bar station can produce up to 30
Kilograms of hydrogen each day, and can store up to 40 Kg in three ASME
steel vessels. This is enough to fill three hydrogen vehicles back to
back to back, or five to seven vehicles within a 24-hour period. The
entire production and storage facility is housed on top of the canopy
covering the pumps.
Graeme Sweeney, Executive Vice President for Shell Future Fuels and CO2 said: "California is leading the way with clean fuels, as it moves one step closer to realizing its hydrogen program, FCVs powered by hydrogen will provide a sustainable transportation choice for the future, opening up new markets across the globe. This requires the sustained effort of energy companies, auto manufacturers and federal and state governments working together. We are pleased to be playing our part to help develop a safe and reliable fueling infrastructure for future clean energy vehicles, as the only major energy company involved in FCV vehicle demonstrations in all three major hydrogen markets - North America, Japan, and Europe."
In hydrogen vehicles, an electric motor powers the wheels. A chemical reaction - usually between hydrogen and oxygen - inside the vehicle's fuel cell stack creates electricity for the motor. The only tailpipe emission is water vapor, which produces zero carbon emissions and has the potential to significantly reduce air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and protect against climate change. Hydrogen fuel will be priced at approximately double the current cost of premium fuel, since it delivers about twice the range of the equivalent amount of gasoline. Shell says this pricing structure is intended to ensure that it costs no more to fuel a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle than a traditional gasoline vehicle.
California already has more fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) and hydrogen refueling stations than any other part of the world, and last year recorded 1.5 million zero emission miles from hydrogen FCV trials. Twenty-five hydrogen stations (from a variety of fuel providers) currently operate in California, most in the San Francisco-Sacramento corridor and the Greater Los Angeles and San Diego regions, serving more than a hundred fuel cell passenger vehicles and transit buses, with ten more stations already in the planning stages.
General Motors plans to use the station to provide fuel for participants in "Project Driveway" - a three-year trial that puts Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell-Electric compact SUVs in the hands of private and commercial customers in Southern California to show the vehicles in real-world driving conditions. Other car manufacturers introducing FCVs into the Los Angeles area -- such as the Honda Clarity, BMW Hydrogen 7-Series, and perhaps even the Volkswagen HyMotion Tiguan -- will also be able to refuel at the station. More importantly, the presence of the hydrogen station on busy Santa Monica Boulevard also helps identify the element as a safe and functional option to neighbors and commuters who pass by on their way to and from the 405 freeway. The station will also maintain a public visitor's center that explains how the hydrogen is made and stored.
James J. Provenzano, President of the 40 year-old public advocacy group Clean Air Now added: "This is a very exciting development. With this station, Shell is helping to usher in the hydrogen age. We are very pleased to be working with a large oil company to demonstrate zero-pollution transportation technologies. Hats off to Shell for implementing innovative solutions to mitigate air pollution right here in Los Angeles."
We agree! Hats off to Shell! Thanks for getting us one step further onto the California Hydrogen Highway!