There is an article that caught my eye at sfbg.com that talks about the hydrogen powered AC Transit buses running in Northern California the new fuel cell buses on the way. But it’s not the buses that made me take notice nor is it the fact that AC Transit is starting to use solar power to create hydrogen from water for the buses.
What caught my eye are two comments about oil companies scaling back their commitment to hydrogen and how we would replace the oil companies if need be.
The article says, “But come September, Chevron will exit its collaboration with AC Transit, which will begin purchasing its hydrogen from a Linde plant in Southern California. Part of the reason is that the Chevron-designed system does not have the capacity to produce hydrogen for 12 buses. Industry watchers note that oil companies have scaled back initial forays into hydrogen, perhaps not wanting to facilitate the transition from fossil fuels.”
Of course it is not in the oil companies best short term interests to facilitate the near term introduction of hydrogen autos. Oil makes money and installing a hydrogen infrastructure will cost money. It’s a matter of simple economics.
But, if the oil companies don’t put up hydrogen fueling stations who will? In August 2008, I pitched the idea that perhaps the big industrial gas companies like Air Products, Linde, Air Liquide and even Praxair could be the ones to build the hydrogen refueling stations and compete with Big Oil.
This sentiment is echoed by AC Transit long timer Jaimie Levin. The article states, “Levin is cautiously optimistic that it could be the gas companies like Linde and Praxair, and not the oil companies, that autory the hydrogen torch forward.”
Right now it seems the most likely scenario will be a collaboration among the government entities and large specialty gas companies that make the hydrogen highway systems a reality one day. But, there could always be a breakthrough in technology, such as hydrogen on demand at the pump that brings a smaller player or players to the forefront. The field is basically open right now and it’s there for the taking if anyone has the NEXT BIG IDEA that will make a nationwide hydrogen network a reality.