California Energy Commission Approves Plan to Invest Up To $115M for Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure

111 New Stations by 2027

December 10, 2020

The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved a plan today that will invest up to $115 million to increase significantly the number of fueling stations in the state that support hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The funding nearly doubles the state’s investments to date and will help California nearly achieve its goal to deploy 200 public hydrogen fueling stations. 

The plan also supports Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order phasing out the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger vehicles by 2035 by providing essential infrastructure to meet the fueling needs of the increasing number of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) anticipated on the road in the next decade. While battery electric vehicles (BEV) are the most common ZEV in the state, more than 8,000 FCEVs have also been leased or sold. 

Under the plan, up to 111 new hydrogen fueling stations will be built in the state by 2027, including many designed for multi-use by passenger vehicles, trucks and buses. Total project funding is subject to annual approval of both the state budget and allocations from the CEC. 

To date, the CEC has funded 45 open retail hydrogen stations with an additional 16 under construction. Altogether with today’s approved plan, there could be up to 179 stations in the state, including seven privately funded stations.  Commissioners awarded three grants totaling nearly $25 million for the installation of the first 30 stations under the plan. More than half of the stations approved today will be built in or near disadvantaged communities. 

  • Irvine-based FirstElement Fuel, Inc., received $15.5 million.
  • San Francisco-based Equilon Enterprises (doing business as Shell Oil Products U.S.) received $7.3 million.
  • Santa Clara-based Iwatani Corporation of America, received $1.9 million.

First Element Fuel also received $5 million from the Volkswagen (VW) Environmental Mitigation Trust, a nationwide program that provides funding for states to mitigate the excess NOx emissions caused by VW’s use of illegal emissions testing defeat devices in their diesel vehicles. The additional funds are designed to accelerate the development of additional hydrogen fueling stations in California. 

The new grants were awarded through the CEC’s Clean Transportation Program, which invests more than $100 million annually to support transportation-related innovations and accelerate the development and deployment of advanced transportation and fuel technologies. About $20 million from the program—the maximum allowable under state law—is invested each year to support an initial network of at least 100 public hydrogen stations. 

Since 2009, $125 million has been invested through the Clean Transportation Program to install or upgrade 62 publicly available hydrogen stations capable of light-duty vehicle fueling. These investments complement the CEC’s hydrogen fueling investments in medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. The Clean Transportation Program also supports private hydrogen infrastructure investments for trucks and buses.

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