General Motors and The Gas Company (TGC), Hawaii’s major gas energy provider, announced today a hydrogen infrastructure project that will use an estimated five to 50 of GM’s fuel cell vehicles as part of the program.
Hawaii could benefit from hydrogen-powered fuel cell transportation because it depends on imported petroleum for 90% percent of its energy use. Gasoline prices are among the highest and electricity prices are the highest in the U.S.
However, fuel cells continue to face many challenges, including extremely high costs for both the energy and the fuel cell vehicle, as well as limited range. One solution to overcome range anxiety is under development at GM, but it requires large, high-pressure hydrogen tanks (700 bar, 128 Kg), which can take up much of the usable space of a car, to allow for 300 miles between refills.
TGC already produces hydrogen along with synthetic natural gas and delivers it in its utility gas stream, with more than 5% hydrogen content today. Through a proprietary separation process, TGC plans to tap into its 1,000-mile utility pipeline system at several locations and separate the hydrogen for use by local fueling stations, estimated at 21, for fuel cell vehicles.