GM steps closer to hydrogen vehicles, infrastructure in Hawaii

General Motors is another step closer to making hydrogen vehicles in Hawaii a reality.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

General Motors is another step closer to making hydrogen vehicles in Hawaii a reality.

Ten companies, agencies and universities have joined an initiative between GM and local energy outfit The Gas Companyto bring hydrogen-powered vehicles and a fueling infrastructure to Hawaii by 2015.

(As a reminder, that target is a mere four years away.)

The plan, called the Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative (or H2I for short), is part of a greater sustainability initiative to reduce the island state’s 90 percent dependence on imported oil to power its transportation industry.

In 2008, the state launched the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative with the U.S. Department of Energy, aiming to generate 70 percent or more of Hawaii's energy through energy efficiency and renewable energy sources including solar, wind, wave, biofuels, and geothermal.

The GM-TGC project aims to make hydrogen available to all 1 million residents of Oahu, Hawaii's most populous island. The installation of 20 to 25 hydrogen stations is also a part of the deal.

The deal is a potentially lucrative one for TGC; the company produces enough hydrogen now to power up to 10,000 fuel cell vehicles. GM is also a logical partner, with several years of testing alternative energy vehicles under its belt.

The catch with hydrogen -- which emits the Holy Grail of tailpipe emissions, water -- is that it requires an all-new infrastructure along with new vehicles. So what better place to try it than geographically-isolated Hawaii?

Right now, engineers are evaluating how to distribute hydrogen through existing natural gas pipelines. If proven successful -- Germany, Japan and Korea are all building hydrogen infrastructure, too -- the project will serve as a template for other states to dive in.

Partners for the project now include Hawaii's Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; the U.S. Department of Energy; FuelCell Energy; Aloha Petroleum; Louis Berger Group; U.S. Pacific Command (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines); the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; the County of Hawaii; University of California – Irvine; and the University of Hawaii.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards