Let me be honest here. The idea of the East Coast Hydrogen Highway ever coming to fruition within the next couple of years made me skeptical from the very beginning. Even though I like the idea on general purposes it seemed like too ambitious of a plan.
I’ve talked about the details of the East Coast Hydrogen Highway and my reservations about it a couple of times in the past. I had talked to Tom Sullivan, owner of Lumber Liquidators, Proton OnSite and SunHydro about the East Coast Hydrogen Highway plan and my reservations about the H2 fueling stations being situated too far apart for most autos and drivers at the National Hydrogen Association conference that was held in May 2010.
For instance the people driving the Honda FCX Clarity would not be able to make the full drive from Sautoborough, ME to Miami, FL because the FCX Clarity only has a 240 mile range and some legs of the trip would be farther than this. SunHydro made the about their change in plan late last week.
As of today, on the SunHydro website they still have the cities listed for the East Coast Hydrogen Highway plan:
To their credit, SunHydro decided to team up with Toyota and their FCHV-adv that has a range of somewhere between 400 and 500 miles which could make the full trip north to south. But since a person would have to drive a Toyota FCHV-adv and these vehicles are not even available for public trials or leases yet, this would exclude many drivers from taking this trip – only Toyota Engineers would benefit at this point from the East Coast Hydrogen Highway.
I decided to go back once again to Tom Sullivan and ask him about the change in plan to the cluster model in the Northeast U. S. Here is what Mr. Sullivan said, “The SunHydro project is a flexible one and we are learning more about the station operations as well as where automakers want to put the limited number of vehicles. Keeping the vehicles close to one another seems to make the most sense in the near term to help us gain additional momentum with a longer-term plan to developing a hydrogen highway down the coast – similar to what is happening in California – in the future.”
I think the cluster model is the right approach. I wish we hadn’t been “teased” with the proposition of an East Coast Hydrogen Highway, but now that is water under the bridge. As I had talked about yesterday, I would like to see another hydrogen cluster of fueling stations and autos developed near the hydrogen pipelines in the Gulf Coast region particularly Texas.
Hydrogen clusters of autos and fueling stations in California, Texas and the Northeast United States would be a good start. And like working on a jigsaw puzzle, adding cluster after cluster would finally hit a tipping point of rapid rollout of H2 fueling stations and autos across the U. S. states.