In August 2008 I had theorized that one day Big Gas could overtake Big Oil as the fuel supplier of the future. In April 2010 I pondered out loud the fact that Big Gas may have a conflict of interest in breaking away from Big Oil since Big Gas’s largest client, is in fact Big Oil.
But, a company called Air Products, which I have blogged about many times, makes me wonder if they can in fact navigate this treacherous territory and come out on top. For years, Air Products has been supplying hydrogen autos with the necessary compressed H2 gas to run them. And they have been going full steam ahead.
For instance, just in the last two months, Air Products has engaged in some high profile hydrogen happenings. For instance, Air Products is supplying the hydrogen fuel for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) shuttle buses.
And Air Products is also the exclusive vendor for the FCHE 2011 Conference in Washington, DC. Air Products is also the hydrogen supplier of choice for AC Transit’s bus fleet in the San Francisco Bay Area, Kimberly-Clark Corporation’s forklift fleet in South Carolina, London’s bus fleet, and Boeing’s Unmanned Phantom Eye UAV.
But Air Products isn’t the only large industrial hydrogen gas supplier on this planet or in the U. S. There is also Linde, Air Liquide and Praxair to name a few.
People often ask the question that if Big Oil doesn’t put up the needed hydrogen fueling infrastructure throughout the U. S., then who will? The answer becomes increasing apparent that the same companies who are currently building the hydrogen fueling station infrastructure on a smaller scale will probably be the ones to put up the H2 fueling stations on a larger scale.
These same companies already know there is money to be made in selling hydrogen. If the right incentives are in place you can look for these companies to be scaling up quickly – in Germany. The U. S. of course will lag sadly behind, but with enough political will at some point in time, perhaps in the U. S. Big Gas will overtake Big Oil on a nationwide scale.
On a local scale, I’m still betting on home hydrogen fueling stations to take root within the next 10 years to give auto owners some autonomy over both Big Oil and Big Gas.