California legislators are lobbying for a $300 million plan to help hydrogen fuel play a larger role in the state's economy. The news comes to light after a bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote a letter to assembly leaders asking that $300 million of a $500 million executive order on emission reductions be set aside for hydrogen fueling infrastructure.
Hydrogen-powered fuel cells (HFCs) have recently gained popularity among advocates as a potential source of emissions-free energy. The only known byproducts, as Forbes reported, would be water and heat. In theory, the improvements from gasoline to hydrogen could improve energy efficiency by 25% to 80%.
Getting there, however, is another matter. Today's hydrogen energy is not so clean. Even though the United States produces 10 million metric tons of hydrogen, 95% of it comes from an emission-intensive process known as natural gas reforming. Although there is a process that could produce "green" hydrogen, the process is expensive, according to Forbes.
And despite its potential, the hydrogen economy would face a number of other challenges. In 2019, global fuel cell markets ended up totaling $2.83 billion, but neither infrastructure nor demand has caught up yet, the article indicated.
Currently, California is the only state with a hydrogen distribution infrastructure where consumers can buy a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle like the Toyota Mirai, which would cost up to $16.51 per kilogram to fill up. Still, the Mirai would be capable of traveling up to 400 miles at around 23 cents per mile. By comparison, a gasoline-powered engine travels at about 11 cents per mile, according to Forbes.
But plans were put in place in the proposal for a hydrogen-powered rail system to be implemented in San Bernardino by 2024. The "FLIRT H2” would be built by a Swiss-based firm, Stadler. It would be the first commercial rail application of fuel cells, and could promote the growth of refueling networks outside the state.
For hydrogen to be truly viable in the future, however, lawmakers will have to continue promoting hydrogen infrastructure, such as production, distribution, HFC vehicles and end-use infrastructure.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.