It's A Bumpy Road on California's Hydrogen Highway

The closure of two stations in recent weeks, and the pending closure of a third next month, will drop the number of hydrogen refueling stations to 22.

Published: 12-Jan-2008

Cadillac unveiled a concept car this week that runs partially on hydrogen, adding to the ranks of futuristic vehicles powered by the universe's most common element. Yet even if you could drive it -- there's only one now -- you couldn't get from L.A. to San Francisco, because there aren't enough fueling stations.

The state, through its Hydrogen Highway program, has been pushing to create a network of 100 hydrogen fueling stations by 2010. But the closure of two stations in recent weeks, and the pending closure of a third next month, will drop the number to 22. In addition, all three of the stations that California's Air Resources Board has agreed to finance have fallen through, most recently one to be erected by Pacific Gas & Electric in San Carlos, near San Francisco.

California's struggles underline the chicken-and-egg problem of hydrogen technology, which has been touted as a zero-emissions alternative to traditional engines. Which comes first: the cars or the pumps?

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