There are only a handful of hydrogen fueling stations currently operating in California, but that number is set to grow in the very near term.

That's the assessment of the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CAFCP), which issued an update on station construction in the Golden State yesterday, in recognition of "National Hydrogen Day."

California was chosen by Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda as the U.S. launching point for their production hydrogen fuel-cell cars because it was the only state with any fueling infrastructure to speak of.

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And the state government has committed to funding the construction of new hydrogen stations overthe coming decade.

The CAFCP says it is aware of roughly 50 stations in operation, under construction, or somewhere in the permitting or regulatory approval process.

As of today, however, only two stations currently meet the group's criteria for what it calls "full retail" status.

Hydrogen fueling station at California State University, Los Angeles [photo: Axelle Bader]

Hydrogen fueling station at California State University, Los Angeles [photo: Axelle Bader]

That means they are equipped to dispense hydrogen, accept all forms of payment that would be used at a typical gas station, and have no access restrictions.

Theses stations are currently selling hydrogen for roughly $13.00 per kilogram, the CAFCP says; a kilogram of hydrogen will propel a fuel-cell vehicle for roughly 60 miles.

Note that Hyundai offers free fuel to all lessees of its Tucson Fuel Cell, and Toyota plans to do the same for its Mirai.

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In addition, six more stations are in operation but not selling hydrogen to retail customers on an unrestricted basis, the CAFCP says.

This includes the handful of stations previously built for demonstration purposes, research, and to service pilot programs for automakers.

The industry is still in the process of implementing a process for dispensing and measuring specific amounts of hydrogen, and accepting payment for them, at those locations.

Cal State L.A. Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility

Cal State L.A. Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility

A further six stations are undergoing a "commissioning" process, meaning they are being tested and awaiting approval from the relevant authorities to sell hydrogen to customers.

Beyond that, the CAFCP says there are 15 more stations under construction, and 17 that have received funding, but have not started construction.

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Finally, there are seven stations pending site acquisition, or relocation from an existing site.

According to the station map on the CAFCP website, additional stations are expected to open before the end of the year, with more on track for 2016.

All those stations will be needed as more fuel-cell cars are delivered to California customers.

Honda FCV

Honda FCV

Toyota expects to deliver its first Mirai sedans to carefully selected customers later this month, and it has allotted 1,000 to the U.S. for the current model year.

Honda will unveil its fuel-cell car at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show later this month.

The unnamed car is expected to go on sale in Japan early next year, and in the U.S. sometime after that.


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