Upstate NY entrepreneurs to bring hydrogen fueling stations to the Eastern U.S.
Onsite-produced hydrogen provides benefits for power and fuel markets
According to Green Car Reports, by 2020, battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are expected to be about 1 percent of global auto production – or about 1 million vehicles per year. Should we expect hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to reach that same level? And what will it take to get from here to there?
Drivers in California (the only location in the U.S. where these vehicles are for sale) cite the main advantages of hydrogen vehicles is that they can refuel for 350 miles in as little as three minutes as the reasons for their purchase. An electric-powered vehicle, such as a Tesla, takes 20 minutes to recharge its battery for less miles. Both vehicles have electric motors to drive their wheels, but a fuel-cell vehicle is constantly generating electricity, which is powered by a hydrogen tank. A Tesla on the other hand has a battery that drives its motor. This requires a driver to plug in and stay awhile.
Toyota, Honda and Hyundai all offer hydrogen car technology with hopes to boost an energy segment that has lagged behind battery vehicles. For about $360 / month, drivers can purchase one of these vehicles, and receive three years worth of hydrogen fuel – free!
Right now in the U.S., California is the only state with a public investment program in hydrogen infrastructure, see California’s Laws and Incentives for Hydrogen. In 2016, fuel-cell vehicles started rolling out to buyers in small numbers, with hydrogen stations slowing expanding across Los Angeles. CA has committed to investing $20 million a year to support the continued construction of at least 100 hydrogen fuel stations. Today, there are over 5,000 hydrogen vehicles being served by about 33 stations, and each is being visited 41 times per day for fill-ups.
Tomorrow’s fuel, today™
Hydrogen refueling stations are available today, but not in the Eastern U.S. Three clean energy entrepreneurs from Upstate New York are leading an effort to change that.
Dr. Paul Mutolo is the co-founder and CEO of Standard Hydrogen Corp. SHC is on a mission to develop an economically-viable, sustainable hydrogen infrastructure that provides everyone with a trusted, transparent, carbon-free travel option, where the only emission is water.
As the Director of External Partnerships for the Energy Materials Center (emc2) at Cornell University and a fuel cell chemist, Paul has been working in the energy sector for nearly two decades. At emc2 he establishes and maintains technology development and transfer projects with industry partners and researchers at Cornell. In 2012, Paul co-founded SHC, which is establishing commercial hydrogen refueling stations to enable fuel cell-based transportation and other hydrogen-enabled applications.
“Before SHC, I helped host a Ride & Drive event with auto partners who brought their fuel cell cars to campus. The goal was to showcase the cars to the students and faculty members working on fuel cell tech in the lab in hopes their tech would make its way into future cars,” said Mutolo. “It became clear that to get these first cars out on the road, new developments from the lab aren’t necessary. All that’s needed are hydrogen refueling stations, and that’s how the SHC solution was created.”
SHC founders also include William Dailey, Esq and Daniel O’Connell. Bill has over 15 years of experience in the energy sector, which spans entrepreneurial ventures, joint development agreements and patent portfolio management. Dan is an engineer and serial entrepreneur. His 30 years with GM included managing fuel cell and electric vehicle development, and a dozen hydrogen fueling stations. Most recently, Dan’s clean energy company, American Fuel Cell, was acquired by Plug Power Inc.
SHC and its partners are building out a hydrogen network in the Northeast and beyond. Future SHC stations are planned along clean fuel corridors in New York. “These stations will multiply through company stores and franchising,” said Mutolo.
The Big Shift – Get in your car and drive
With a need from the auto companies to get hydrogen fueled cars into the showroom, but no infrastructure available to support their needs, SHC is setting out to build hydrogen stations where the vehicles and other customers want to be – including right here in Upstate New York.
SHC stations enable increased renewable power, like wind and solar, while generating grid-balanced EV and FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicle) charging and refueling. The goal is to create a clean and sustainable way of driving.
For electric power, SHC’s Energy Transfer Stations™ (ETS™) provide grid balancing, renewable power integration and other services. For transportation, they supply grid-balanced™ ZEV charging and refueling.
“SHC stations produce hydrogen onsite, helping to make both our electric grid and our roads cleaner, more efficient, and amazingly cost effective,” said Mutolo. “By restoring our stake in our clean energy choices, continuous improvement comes Standard. Our stations are being built where local fleet and grid customers need them today.”
Unique, pay-as-you-go business model for auto dealers
The SHC founders recognize that there is technology in this space. The solution they are exploring involves creating a new business model to help get this technology into areas such as New York that currently aren’t offering big subsidies like California.
“Because the auto companies have included the price of hydrogen in their customers’ auto payments, SHC contracts directly with the dealers who pay only for what their drivers are using,” said Mutolo. “SHC goes by standard averages of 15,000 miles / year and $300 / mo per vehicle.”
SHC is speaking with corporate offices at all the major car companies. Mutolo says the response has been positive as dealers see the benefits of paying for a service model as they go. SHC believes this model will enable the dealers to sell more cars, as well as open their markets and zero emission credits.
SHC receives product validation through NEXUS-NY program
The SHC founders have been working hard over the last several months to fine-tune their value proposition for utilities, and learn how to capitalize on their company’s unique business model. As part of NEXUS-NY, the SHC team has spoken with nearly 75 industry leaders about the versatility of hydrogen energy storage compared to batteries.
“Today’s energy storage is mostly batteries, which need to be recharged every few hours,” said Mutolo. “Unlike other hydrogen stations, our stations will also be able to service the needs of the electric grid. Our ETS™ energy storage offers more versatile, flexible operation.”
NEXUS-NY is a clean energy proof-of-concept center powered by NextCorps and funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The purpose of the program is to catalyze the commercialization of clean energy research and inventions throughout NYS. The SHC team is among a select handful of finalists chosen for the 2018 program.
“Our customer discovery conversations have taught us a lot about SHC’s economic model and how to create real benefits for potential partners like Toyota,” said Mutolo. “We’ve also spoken with big utility companies in New York, all of which need energy storage to advance operation of their grids. Standard Hydrogen Corp’s Energy Transfer Stations will make these grids more reliable, less expensive and greener.”
SHC is now developing a similar pay-as-you-go model for utilities to access this energy storage instead of having them buy and maintain the equipment themselves. The typical cost of one hydrogen station is between $3-4 million.