The California Fuel Cell Partnership, a joint effort among government agencies, auto makers, and energy providers, has published a roadmap report detailing the future of zero-emission cars in California, including plans to build public hydrogen stations. According to the CaFCP report, the state plans to have 37 public hydrogen stations by 2015, with that number growing in the following years.
Hydrogen stations are the gas station equivalent for those who drive fuel cell vehicles. According to the California Fuel Cell Partnership, 68 such stations could be operational by 2016. Such a number of stations could service 10,000 to 30,000 hydrogen cars, although whether there will be that many fuel cell cars on the road by then is still questionable.
According to the CaFCP, current estimates peg the number of fuel cell cars on California roads at 53,000 by 2017, a quantity that will require about 100 stations to sustain. One of the main concerns of those vehicle owners will be access to hydrogen stations, and whether they will be located in such a way that owning a hydrogen car doesn't prove impossible or highly inconvenient.
Aiming to strike a balance between too may hydrogen stations and too few, as well as avoiding putting them where they're less needed or likely to thrive, the CaFCP has fingered five locations it calls "cluster communities," which are comprised of: Berkeley, Irvine, San Francisco's South Bay Area, Orange County's coastal area, and Santa Monica. Ideally, each station will feature 5 - 7 gas pumps per one hydrogen pump.