World’s first retail hydrogen fuel network to open in California

8 Oct 2014

A concept design of one of the FirstElement fuel dispensers

A fuel provider in California has made clean energy history after signing a deal to build the world’s first retail hydrogen fuel network for US$25.5m.

While the number of hydrogen-fuelled cars in the world remains few and far between, car producers, particularly in Japan and the US, have begun experimenting with the technology in recent years.

The company in question is FirstElement, which signed a deal with Air Products to provide the pumps for vehicles with hopes of having 19 fuelling pumps up and running by the start of 2015.

So far the only companies to have agreed to create and design hydrogen-powered cars operating in California are Toyota, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, and Hyundai, and while FirstElement wants to create a nationwide network, the initial 19 pumps will be based in the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles regions.

The only issue for both companies now remains getting the technology for creating efficient hydrogen fuel cells to store in cars to reach a feasible level, something which many car makers have yet to do.

However, Japanese manufacturer Toyota recently announced it hopes to have its first commercially available hydrogen-powered car on the market by April of next year.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic