Starting a Green Vehicle Fueling Company, Part 2
How much of a push is coming from new legislation?
As of the start of 2021, thirty-one nations, some U.S. states, and major cities worldwide have pending internal combustion engine (ICE) bans in place. While none are yet actively in force, the new regulatory environment will begin changing soon.
In September 2020, California was the first U.S. state to announce such a mandate – stating that all new vehicle sales in the state must be ZEV by 2035. Washington State, New Jersey, Colorado, and Hawaii are among the other states (plus D.C.) enacting or considering similar measures. Correspondingly, major automakers – such as General Motors – have announced the phase-out of ICE production in the not-distant future. In GM’s case, by 2035.
What Is the market for hydrogen?
Slowly arriving and possibly huge in the future, but not really here yet (despite all the PR and media hubbub).
FCVs are in their infancy as a commercial option and, in California, have recently reached 10,000 units sold. However, that “trickle” may become a tsunami.
Hydrogen (H2) is a more potent fuel than diesel (H2 has an energy density ~ 3 times that of gasoline or diesel), and it uses a similar fueling infrastructure. A light vehicle can be fueled in ~ 5 minutes; a heavy cargo truck can be fully fueled with H2 in ~ 15 minutes. The energy density also offers the opportunity to double the MPG equivalency of a heavy vehicle.
However, against these benefits and swelling demand, there are currently huge supply problems:
- There are only a few established H2 suppliers in the U.S. (e.g., Air Liquide, Linde, and Air Products).
- Hydrogen charging stations for FCVs are almost non-existent. There are currently fewer than 50 hydrogen stations in California. However, plans are already in place for over 120, and the California Fuel Cell Partnership is pushing the state toward 1,000 stations to support the needed infrastructure.
Nevertheless, hydrogen planning is surging according to Recharge:
The thinking behind leaping from megawatt-scale [hydrogen production] to gigawatt-scale is that the future demand for green H2 will be gigantic, and that costs can be quickly driven down through economies of scale, with a view to making renewable hydrogen cheaper than highly polluting grey [sic, UK spelling] (produced from unabated natural gas or coal) by 2030.
Here’s what’s going on in the U.S. and elsewhere:
- Saudi Arabia: The kingdom wants to reduce the country’s dependence on petrodollars and is building a $5 billion plant powered entirely by solar and wind. The plant will be among the world’s largest green hydrogen makers when it opens in the planned megacity of Neom in 2025.
- China: Sinopec has accelerated its plan for hydrogen energy development – planning to build a world-leading clean energy company offering 1,000 hydrogen refueling stations in the next five years.
- United States: A coalition of 11 companies have partnered to form “Hydrogen Forward”, an initiative focused on advancing hydrogen development in the United States. The founding members – Air Liquide, Anglo American, Bloom Energy, CF Industries, Chart Industries, Cummins Inc., Hyundai, Linde, McDermott, Shell, and Toyota – are united by a shared belief in the environmental and economic benefits of hydrogen technologies.
Are there other ZEV issues to be aware of?
Yes, there are, primarily stemming from a lack of standardization:
- No uniform standard on charging connectors: approximately 80% of electric car charging is done at home. For AEVs and PHEVs, the battery is usually charged through a standard connector and receptacle that works with any Level 1 (120 V AC) or Level 2 (240 V for residential/208 V for commercial) plug.
- Fast DC Charging uses multiple connector configurations. The type of vehicle determines the charging station the driver can use – CHAdeMO, CCS, or Tesla.
- Most models coming from Asian automakers use what’s called a CHAdeMO connector (Nissan Leaf & Kia Soul EV), while German and American EVs use the SAE CCS (“Combined Charging System”) Combo plug (BMW i3, Chevrolet Bolt EV), with many Level 3 charging stations supporting both types.
- The industry is moving away from CHAdeMO but the separation is not uniform.
- Tesla uses a proprietary connector to access its high-speed Supercharger network, which is limited to its own vehicles. Tesla owners can, however, use other public chargers via an adaptor that comes with the vehicle.
- No uniform standard on charging levels – there are currently 3 charging “levels”:
- L1 is the slowest type of AC charging equipment. L1 chargers plug into a standard 120 volt (V) AC outlet supplying an average output of 1.3 kW to 3.0 kW, giving a slow charge in around 10-14 hours.
- L2 AC chargers operate at 208-240 V, with output anywhere from 3.0 kW to 19.2 kW. An average EV can be fully charged in 8 hours or less. L2 is the most prevalent type of charger in the U.S., deployed in every state and found in many popular public locations including parking garages, grocery stores, malls, and hotels. There is also a “faster” L2 AC charger with 7kW to 22kW that will give an EV a “fast” charge, usually in around 4 to 6 hours.
- L3 is a 50kW to 120kW DC charger, classed as a “rapid charger”, and will provide a full charge in about an hour. However, some fast DC charging ports may offer as much as 350 kW and a full EV charge in 30 minutes.
The ZEV sector and the refueling market are currently like the wild west, full of dangers and opportunities. If you would like more information about green vehicle fueling, contact us for help with your cleantech business plan.
If you missed Part 1 of this post, click here.
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