For the first time since 1979, the U.S. transportation sector is currently generating more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than electricity. The reason for this shift is simple: growth in solar and other forms of renewable energy have been incredibly effective at reducing electric power emissions. In transportation, the road to cleaner fuels has been much more difficult. This is one of the reasons CEC has placed special focus on initiatives to spur the adoption of cleaner, low-emission vehicles.
A New Clean Energy Coalition
A little over a year ago, we joined a coalition to help develop the Tri-Counties Hydrogen Readiness Plan. Similar to CEC’s work with plug-in electric cars, this group aims to pave the way for a new clean energy car and fuel to make a strong showing on the Central Coast. Funded by a California Energy Commission grant to the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (SBCAPD), the coalition has already conducted extensive analysis with UC Irvine to identify potential sites where hydrogen fueling stations could be installed. They have also created a comprehensive package of resources to help local governments navigate the planning and permitting for installing new hydrogen fueling infrastructure.
In addition to this infrastructure analysis and local government outreach, the group is also tasked with providing advocacy and community education, something CEC is uniquely positioned to do. Our involvement in similar programs aimed at electric vehicles has supported hundreds of EV charging station installations along the Central Coast, and helped give our region one of the highest per capita EV ownership rates anywhere in the U.S. – four times that of the national average.
The Road Ahead
Since the regional Hydrogen Readiness planning effort kicked off in late 2015, CEC has developed a much deeper understanding of both the promise and complexities of hydrogen-fueled transportation. Looking ahead, many challenges exist: producing 100% renewable hydrogen, expanding mainstream awareness of FCEVs, addressing perceptions of risk, and building a robust network of hydrogen fueling stations. Yet we are optimistic that these issues can be overcome.
Free Community Forum
To begin a conversation around the potential of this emerging clean transportation solution, CEC is hosting a free community forum. Drive Clean: The Road Ahead for FCEVs and Hydrogen will be held on Wednesday, February 22, 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Public Library’s Faulkner Gallery (40 East Anapamu Street).
The event will include a special panel discussion on the benefits, challenges, and opportunities for hydrogen-fueled transportation in the Central Coast region and greater California. Facilitated by Cameron Gray, CEC’s Transportation & Climate Specialist, the panelists will include:
Keith Malone, Public Affairs Manager for the California Fuel Cell Partnership
Ben Ellenberger, Technology & Environmental Assessment Division Manager, Santa Barbara County APCD
Kiran Srivastava, Program Director, Energy Independence Now
Rommel Momen, Greater L.A. Area Mirai Manager, Toyota USA
The panel discussion will be followed by an open Question & Answer period. We invite anyone interested to join us for a robust community dialogue about the role of hydrogen and FCEVs in our transportation future. RSVP here and learn more about fuel cell technology at CECSB.org/FCEV.