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.”