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Hydrogen fuel cell future drives into the big apple Hydrogen fuel cell future drives into the big apple

5 June 2005

Mella McEwen

Midland Reporter Telegram

NEW YORK — Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles — and the hydrogen stations to support them — are coming to New York, thanks to an aggressive plan rolled out jointly by General Motors Corp. and Shell Hydrogen LLC.

GM will be providing 13 fuel cell-powered vehicles and Shell Hydrogen LLC intends to establish New York State’s first hydrogen service station in the New York City metropolitan area in 2006, which is anticipated to involve installing a portable hydrogen-refueling module at an existing Shell station. GM and Shell will be the only team bringing fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen refueling to the New York City metropolitan area under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Infrastructure Demonstration and Validation Project.

According to Larry Burns, GM vice president Research & Development and Planning, this is a critical step toward creating a sustainable future.

“This fleet will put New York in the forefront on the road to a future in which our vehicles, industries, and economy are energized by hydrogen,” Burns said. “Today, automobiles are 98-percent dependent on petroleum. Because hydrogen can be obtained from a wide variety of feedstocks, including renewable sources, it has the potential to reduce our petroleum dependence substantially. And because fuel cells using hydrogen emit just water, they could remove automobiles from the environmental debate.”

The New York fleet is part of a total of 40 vehicles that GM is building under the DOE program. GM will also introduce fleets in California and the Detroit metro area and expand the current Washington D.C. fleet, which today includes six HydroGen3 vehicles. In addition to the New York station, under this program Shell will provide two hydrogen refueling stations in California, and a fourth station will be located somewhere between New York and Washington D.C.

According to Jeremy Bentham, Shell Hydrogen’s CEO, “The only way the hydrogen economy will be realized is having not only fuel cell vehicles, but also convenient places to refuel and local communities that will support this transition to a new energy source. We’re proud to be leading this effort in partnership with GM and applaud the state of New York for its efforts toward creating a sustainable future for all.”

Shell already has a hydrogen-refueling site in operation at a Shell station in Washington D.C. When another site is built between Washington D.C. and New York, the foundation for an “East Coast Corridor ” will be established. The “East Coast Corridor” is similar to the California Hydrogen Highway, which places fuel cell fleets in concentrated areas to help toward early adoption of the new technology.

Shell, according to Bentham, has a clear business strategy and a five-step approach for the hydrogen market.

“We’re focused today on large-scale demonstration projects — what we call ‘Lighthouse Projects’ — that create mini-networks of hydrogen fueling stations in specific cities or regions of the country,” Bentham said. “These Lighthouse Projects will bring together governments and several energy and auto companies to hasten full commercialization of hydrogen as a transportation fuel.”

The New York fleet will be powered by GM’s newest-generation fuel cell technology, which was developed at its facility in Honoeye Falls, New York. This is the same fuel cell power module used in the Sequel concept vehicle, which was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in January. The system design is simpler, more efficient, and smaller than previous-generation designs, and delivers 25-percent more power and enhanced durability.

According to Burns, fuel cells and hydrogen represent today’s technology “moon shot,” and the auto and energy industries must collaborate with government to make the hydrogen future real.

“If we all work together to quickly realize the many benefits that hydrogen offers,” Burns said, “we can create a sustainable future that builds on the freedom, pride, and excitement that our cars and trucks provide.”

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