The startup company First Element Fuel has just completed a network of 15 hydrogen fueling stations in California—and it's got a new brand it'll use to promote them, too.

The fuel provided by First Element stations will be marketed under the True Zero brand name.

The stations are clustered in specific areas of California, including Silicon Valley, the greater Los Angeles Area, and Harris Ranch in the San Joaquin Valley.

DON'T MISS: First Element Expects To Make Money Selling Hydrogen Fuel In 5 Years (Aug 2014)

First Element also expects to open four more stations by the end of the year.

The fueling installations are being funded largely through grants from the California Energy Commission, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), and the Bay Area AQMD.

First Element also gets some support from carmakers looking to expand the infrastructure that supports current and future hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

True Zero hydrogen fueling station

True Zero hydrogen fueling station

In 2014 it received a $7.3 million loan from Toyota, and a $13.8 million loan from Honda.

Toyota already sells its Mirai fuel-cell car through eight California dealers, while Honda is expected to launch its Clarity Fuel Cell in the state toward the end of this year.

First Element says the True Zero brand represents its goal of zero well-to-wheels carbon emissions from fuel-cell cars and their hydrogen fueling infrastructure.

ALSO SEE: CA Renewable Hydrogen Rule: Forcing The Carbon Numbers To Work (Aug 2015)

The company is constantly pushing suppliers to lower the carbon footprint of fuel production and transportation, First Element co-founder Shane Stephens told Green Car Reports in a phone interview.

State law already requires stations funded through the California Energy Commission to dispense hydrogen that is at least 33 percent renewable.

One of First Element's suppliers is producing hydrogen using biomethane to meet that requirement, Stephens said.

True Zero hydrogen fueling station

True Zero hydrogen fueling station

He also noted that most hydrogen fuel is delivered relatively close to production sites in the Los Angeles area, so emissions from truck transport represent a low part of its overall carbon footprint.

Many early California hydrogen stations have experienced reliability issues, something First Element acknowledges.

MORE: Hydrogen Fueling Station Reliability: 'An Issue For Some Time' To Come (Aug 2015)

"As with any new technology, we continue to work through glitches surrounding the launch of a product that is cutting edge," First Element CEO Joel Ewanick said in a statement.

The 15 True Zero stations comprise the first part of a network of 100 stations California has committed to funding through 2020.

True Zero hydrogen fueling station

True Zero hydrogen fueling station

That should provide coverage for the relatively small numbers of fuel-cell cars that Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota plan to put on the road over the next few years.

California is currently the center of the North American fuel-cell universe.

There is relatively less activity relating to fueling infrastructure in other states, and so far no carmaker has committed to selling fuel-cell vehicles outside California.


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