At the National Hydrogen Association (NHA) Conference and Expo in Long Beach, California this week, I had the pleasure of meeting Robert Friedland, President and CEO of Proton Energy, Michael Grey, President of SunHydro and Tom Sullivan, founder and chairman of both Proton Energy and SunHydro.
Now, in January 2010, I had already talked about the East Coast Hydrogen Highway that was being developed by SunHydro in partnership with Proton Energy. In April 2010, I gave an East Coast Hydrogen Highway update.
Now, it’s time to update the update, so to speak. One of the new pieces of information that I found out speaking with these gentlemen is that the maximum distance between any H2 fueling stations on the East Coast Hydrogen Highway will be 280 miles. So, for some parts of the trip, this will exclude several hydrogen autos like the Honda Clarity that has a range of approximately 240 miles.
So, SunHydro may need a little help from other government and private entities to help fill in the gaps. Still, this distance will be suitable for other vehicles such as the Toyota FCHV Adv and the Kia Borrego FCEV.
The SunHydro and Proton Energy executives say that they have an aggressive timeline for the East Coast Hydrogen Highway, building it out by 2012, well ahead of the 2015 deadline that the major automakers have given for building production hydrogen autos. And Proton Energy is not rookie to building hydrogen stations on the East coast as they helped Air Products put an H2 fueling station in Long Island, New York. So, the SunHydro project begs the question of whether or not there will a Hydrogen Road Tour 2012 to commemorate the East Coast Hydrogen Highway’s grand opening?
Another unique idea is that Tom Sullivan will be placing most of the hydrogen fueling stations at his multi-million dollar chain of stores at various cities up and down the East Coast. When I asked Mr. Sullivan whether or not he planned to make any money with the hydrogen stations, he said he was happy he made his millions first with his hardwood flooring business.
In an era where environmental corporate responsibility is more than just a buzzword, it is encouraging to see that those who have the means to do so are finding inventive ways of giving back to the community. SunHydro and Proton Energy are seeing an environmental need resulting in a gap in services and filling it right out of their own pockets.