GM, Hawaii's The Gas Co. Announce Hydrogen Fueling Project

General Motors and Hawaii’s The Gas Company (TGC) announced a collaboration to establish a pilot project for the refueling of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

TGC, a unit of Macquarie Infrastructure Company (NYSE: MIC), currently produces hydrogen along with synthetic natural gas and delivers it in its utility gas stream at upwards of 5% content today.

Through a proprietary separation process, TGC plans to tap into its 1,000-mile utility pipeline system at key locations on the island of Oahu and separate the hydrogen for use by local fueling stations for fuel cell vehicles.

"We have been delivering as much as 12% hydrogen made from renewable sources to our gas customers over the last two to three years and expect we can deliver even greater quantities of hydrogen as demand increases," said Jeffrey Kissel, president and CEO of TGC.

Depending how the pricing for the hydrogen is set, it could be available at the equivalent price of gasoline or less, the companies said.

"This is the type of enabler that a hydrogen transportation infrastructure needs because it addresses both the source of the hydrogen and a feasible way to deliver it for fuel cell vehicle use," said Charles Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Activities. "The Hawaii infrastructure could eventually support tens of thousands of fuel cell vehicles.

It was unclear from the announcement, exactly what role GM will play in the collaboration. The company simply stated that it has invested more than $1.5 billion in fuel cell transportation in the last 15 years and is developing a "production-intent" fuel cell system that could be ready for commercialization in 2015.

Current Chevrolet Fuel Cell vehicles are part of demonstration called Project Driveway, which has logged more than a million miles of real-world driving hours since 2007.

According to the press release, the GM-TGC collaboration is the leading edge of a broad consortium of federal and state, non-profit and education organizations that is forming to develop a Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative as part of an integrated energy solution for the state.

Hawaii currently imports petroleum for 90% of its energy, and the state has set a target of reducing petroleum use by 70% through a combination of renewable energy resources, conservation and efficiency.

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