General Motors announced today it is part of a partnership to test fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen fueling infrastructure in Hawaii.
The Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative aims to bring 20 to 25 hydrogen fueling stations to Hawaii by 2015, according to an agreement with GM, Hawaiian utility The Gas Company (TGC), and other research and government agencies.
The project will seek to use existing natural gas pipelines to distribute hydrogen. TGC said that it has the capacity to produce enough hydrogen for 10,000 vehicles.
Hawaii is the most fossil fuel-dependent state in the U.S., according to the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. Because it imports so much fossil fuel, it has very high electricity and liquid fuel prices compared to other states.
To lessen Hawaii's dependence on fossil fuels, the Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative is trying to address one of the toughest challenges to fuel cell vehicle adoption--the lack of distribution infrastructure.
GM, like other major auto companies, has a long-standing hydrogen fuel cell vehicle development program. But these vehicles have only been used in a few pockets of the U.S. where there are hydrogen filling stations.
Fuel cell vehicles produce electricity on board through a chemical reaction in a fuel cell to power the vehicle. The fuel cells produce only water vapor emissions during driving, but hydrogen requires energy to be produced, often either by reforming natural gas or splitting water in an electrolyzer.