Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

FirstElement Fuel has won a $27.6 million grant to build a fueling network for fuel cell EVs in California, to b built by Black & Veatch.


Like It Or Not, $27.6 Million Worth Of Fuel Cell Stations Coming To California

FirstElement Fuel has won a $27.6 million grant to build a fueling network for fuel cell EVs in California, to b built by Black & Veatch.

FirstElement Fuel has won a $27.6 million grant for a fueling network for fuel cell electric vehicles in California, and with the grant announcement still fresh off the press the company has already lined up the global firm Black & Veatch to build the stations by fall 2015.

Check out a global map of Black & Veatch projects and you’ll see that what Black & Veatch signs on to build, gets built. So, despite some clear misgivings about the current nature of fuel sourcing for fuel cell electric vehicles, it looks like those of you in California who are burning to wrap your hands around the steering wheel of a brand new fuel cell EV will get your chance to fuel up sooner rather than later.

FirstElement fuel cell EV California

Fuel cell EV fueling station (cropped) courtesy of FirstElement Fuel, Inc.

Renewable Hydrogen For Fuel Cell EVs

We’ve been hashing out the hydrogen fuel cell EV issue in CleanTechnica practically all summer and aside from technology and cost it boils down to this: right now, the primary source of hydrogen for fuel cell EVs is fossil natural gas.

That means fuel cell EVs are subject to the same criticism that once dogged battery EVs, namely, that the source of the electricity consists primarily of fossil fuels. For that matter, as more utilities have switched from coal to fossil natural gas, both battery EVs and fuel cell EVs are in the same pickle.

The bottom line is that while fuel cells are great for reducing tailpipe emissions in pollution hotspots (that includes watercraft and warehouse vehicles btw), fuel cell EVs are piling on to the sourcing issues that encumber fossil natural gas.

For those of you new to the topic, aside from fugitive methane emissions the continued boom in natural gas fracking has led to numerous water resource issues, earthquakes (yes, earthquakes), and waste disposal issues among other environmental impacts.

The good news for battery EVs is that the ongoing surge in both utility scale and distributed renewable energy generation is untethering battery EV ownership from natural gas issues.

Fuel cell EV ownership is running behind that curve at the moment, but renewable sourcing for hydrogen has picked up recently. The two main avenues of approach are extracting hydrogen from renewable biogas, or splitting it from water using a solar-powered electrochemical process.

FirstElement And Renewable Hydrogen

The natural gas issue didn’t feature in FirstElement’s announcement of the Black & Veatch partnership, but renewable sourcing does play a role in the company’s plans.


FirstElement already lays claim to 30 percent renewable hydrogen, and it is on record stating that 100 percent renewable hydrogen should be a goal for the fuel cell industry. The California grant also comes with a partial renewable sourcing string attached.

Fueling Up Your Fuel Cell EV

FirstElement’s initial round of construction will consist of 19 fueling stations. Although 19 public fuel cell EV fueling stations sounds like a drop in a bucket, apparently that’s triple the number that California currently has.

These first 19 are also just the first round of a bigger network planned by FirstElement. These first 19 will be located at existing gas stations, a strategy that dovetails with a recent Sandia National Laboratory survey indicating that fuel cell EV fueling stations can safely piggyback onto existing service stations for gasmobiles.

Follow me on Twitter and Google+.

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Former Tesla Battery Expert Leading Lyten Into New Lithium-Sulfur Battery Era — Podcast:

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Spoutible.


You May Also Like

Clean Power

A new US fuel cell alliance is on a mission to evaporate diesel engines, and a green hydrogen angle would ding natural gas, too.

Autonomous Vehicles

Welcome to the next issue of China x Cleantech, our June 2019 edition. Below I will inform you of rapid changes that are happening...

Clean Transport

New Flyer of America Inc. (“New Flyer”), a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc. (“NFI”), the largest bus manufacturer in North America, today announced that...


Robert Llewellyn and the fine fellows over at the entertaining and informative Fully Charged show flew off to South Korea to spend some quality...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.