Hydrogen Fuel Cell Grant Awarded by Shell

transportdive.com, 9/14/20.

Dive Brief:

  • The California Energy Commission has awarded almost $116 million to expand hydrogen refueling systems in the state. Among the proposed recipients was Shell’s Equilon Enterprises, also known as Shell Hydrogen, which could get nearly $41 million. 
  • Shell Hydrogen is proposing to add fueling at 48 existing Shell retail stations and to upgrade three existing hydrogen fueling stations, according to a news release. Shell has nine hydrogen fueling stations in California.
  • Shell said it has partners in Toyota and Honda, which have agreed to expand fuel-cell electric vehicle sales in California “in support of these Shell Hydrogen stations,” according to the announcement. In April 2019, Toyota unveiled a hydrogen-fueled truck, made jointly with Kenworth Trucks, that it said it would deploy in California later that year. Honda announced plans to research fuel-cell trucks with Isuzu earlier this year.

Dive Insight:

California continues its push to convince fleets and associated businesses to go green. While the state has been aggressive in mandating what it wants from future fleets, large-scale operational deployment of electric trucks isn’t possible without infrastructure on which fleets can rely. Fuel suppliers and utilities on the West Coast appear ready to help.

Hydrogen’s selling point is that FCEVs have better range and can make more and longer trips, as long as they have fueling stations. The rub is that hydrogen has to be made and then delivered to those stations. Shell Hydrogen’s involvement, along with other players getting the California awards, is a step to reassure fleets thinking of making the step toward adding FCEVs.

Shell Hydrogen said it understands the market education it needs to do. Hydrogen “is not [yet] a familiar product among end users,” and that “novel energy technologies require openness, a willingness to learn and familiarization on the part of future users,” Shell officials said in a 2017 report.  

To that same end, Navistar recently tapped In-Charge Energy to provide consulting services to fleets and provide an internal charging infrastructure.

“With electric vehicles, it’s important to understand that we can provide the very best bus or truck for our customers, but if they don’t have a partner to show them how to operate it, charge it or take care of it in the long run, it likely won’t be a successful deployment,” Jason Gies, director of business development at Navistar’s Next eMobility solutions, said in a statement

To assist West Coast fleets with a transition to electric, nine West Coast utilities and two agencies representing 24 municipal utilities proposed charging stations for trucks every 50 miles along Interstate 5 and connecting highways, according to a report issued through the West Coast Clean Transit Corridor Initiative. The first phase would build 27 sites along I-5 for medium-duty electric trucks by 2025.

Penske Truck Leasing announced it added 14 fast chargers in Southern California for its electric trucks in April 2019, at the Advanced Clean Technology Expo, held in Long Beach, California. Roger Nielsen, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, also made waves at the ACT Expo by announcing his company, the largest truck maker in North America, would focus on battery-electric trucks and not FCEVs.