With 6,000 vehicles on the roads, California is the largest Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) market in the world. The Golden State plans to expand the uptake of hydrogen-powered vehicles in the region, part of a lofty goal to introduce five million zero-emission vehicles by 2030. Currently, the infrastructure to support FCEV is limited. Only 37 hydrogen stations are operating in California, and there is an urgent need for expansion of these fuelling stations.
FirstElement Fuel (FEF) is the largest hydrogen station developer and operator in California, operating 19 hydrogen stations with a further 12 in development. The company’s “True Zero” network extends to San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Barbara and Lake Tahoe.
FEF announced on 2 April 2019 it has secured funding to accelerate the growth of its chain of hydrogen fuelling stations in California. Hy Solution, a subsidiary of Japan’s Mitsui Group, and French company Air Liquide have invested a combined USD24 million to support much-needed hydrogen infrastructure in California, and the likely expansion of FEFs network into other regions. The company anticipates the agreement will quadruple its current capacity to enable it to serve more than 28,000 vehicles. The deal also includes the supply of liquid hydrogen to FEF from Air Liquide.
FEF opened its first station in January 2016. Since then the network has completed more than 300,000 successful fuels. The California Energy Commission, Toyota, Honda, the South Coast AQMD, and the Bay Area AQMD have previously provided financial backing to support the growth of FEF’s network.