2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car, Newport Beach, CA, Nov 2014Enlarge Photo
Tropical islands are some of the best places on earth to pioneer carbon-free energy and zero-emission vehicles.
Within the United States, the eight islands of Hawaii are blessed with a temperate climate, abundant sunshine, few high-speed highways, and a statewide speed limit of 60 mph, achievable only on a few roads.
This has led to a push for battery-electric vehicles as well as large solar-energy projects like the one built by Tesla and recently opened on Kauai.
But electric cars aren't the only vehicles without tailpipe emissions, so Hawaii is now getting its first hydrogen fueling station to enable fuel-cell vehicles to operate on Oahu, the most populated island by far and home to Honolulu.
Governor David Ige and officials at Servco Pacific—which owns four Toyota and two Lexus dealerships in Hawaii—recently broke ground for a hydrogen station at Servco's headquarters in Mapunapuna. It will be able to fuel up to five hydrogen vehicles a day.
The hydrogen fuel will be produced on site by electrolyzing water to split hydrogen from oxygen; that process can use electricity from any source, including renewable energy.
Island of O'ahu, Hawaii. Image: Wikimedia CommonsEnlarge Photo
"I really do see today's event," said Governor Ige during a groundbreaking ceremony, "as the beginning of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles here in Hawaii."
Once the station is operational, Hawaii will become the second of the 50 states in which the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle is sold.
READ THIS: Will Hawaii Become Paradise For Plug-In Electric Cars Too? (Mar 2012)
Currently, the Mirai sedan is offered only in California, which now has 34 operational hydrogen fueling stations, and only for lease.
The EPA rates the Mirai's range on a full tank of compressed hydrogen at 312 miles; the other hydrogen vehicle now available in California is the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell sedan, rated at 365 miles.
The first hydrogen vehicle offered in the U.S. was the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, which will shortly be replaced by a new hydrogen SUV model from the Korean maker.
While the U.S. now has more than half a million plug-in electric vehicles on its roads, sales of hydrogen vehicles through July total roughly 2,500.
Electrolysis is an energy-intensive way to produce hydrogen, and the state has some of the highest electricity costs rates in the U.S.
Maui, the most populous of Hawaii's islands, still produces electricity today by burning fossil fuels imported to the island by freighter, whereas Kauai now generates electricity from predominantly renewable sources.
[hat tip: Brian Henderson]