First Element '21: Panelists discuss H2 transportation policy and infrastructure in U.S.

Gulf Energy’s Inaugural First Element Conference kicked off with a keynote panel discussion with leaders from Chevron, Cummins and Toyota sharing insights on hydrogen in transportation, including policy landscape, technology, and business models.

Among support of a carbon tax, Cummins VP of Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies Amy Adams noted that infrastructure, research and development and deployment are key factors to consider in policy development that incentivizes hydrogen demand in the sector.

“If we can encourage deployment of the technologies and encourage some demand either through direct funding, or through investment incentives or purchasing incentives, that can help the whole economy start to accelerate,” Adams said.

Toyota Group Manager – Portfolio Business Management Craig Scott added that federal policy is a crucial component in moving the needle in favor of furthering development.

“We would like federal policy that supports hydrogen, not only on the infrastructure side, but on the vehicle side as well,” said Scott. “In these early days technology is new, developing, and likely more expensive than conventional technology and how we can incentivize operators to make the transition to zero carbon opportunity is really important.”

Assessing infrastructure challenges within the U.S. can lead to an imbalanced supply and demand scale, but panelists agreed that tapping into resources that may not have been previously considered could aid in driving the demand for hydrogen transport.

“In California, and across the U.S., we have that baseline infrastructure that we can build upon,” said Danielle Lincoln, Chevron General Manager, Renewables. “We also know how to produce hydrogen. We can bring that hydrogen to market now. Even if it is grey hydrogen, that can be a bridge to blue or green hydrogen, but we can build out this infrastructure now. Without it, it’s hard to get the demand side.”

In addition, the panelists said the establishment of industrial clusters pushing the sector forward is a major step that will address concerns about hydrogen meeting supply and demand needs in the U.S.

“This idea of clusters makes sense to us. We are thinking about it in terms of hubs. Where can we put a hydrogen hub where we have production capability already, or we can work with partners to develop that hydrogen production capability and then work with OEMs or partners like Toyota where that demand will come from,” said Lincoln. “We think that the cluster concept is a way to come to market in a way where you get the chicken and the egg at same time.”

Providing end-users with opportunities to build confidence in utilizing hydrogen products, such as refueling, could boost the demand for hydrogen expansion along with considering vehicles most suitable for hydrogen use.

“The reason why we chose to make a Class 8 truck mix is because we figured if we can do it at the vehicle end, and the high-end, then really everything in between is possible and it’s just a function of what’s best suited for the market application,” said Scott. “Certainly there are things in the Class 4 or Class 5 range that maybe better suited for battery power...but there are applications where hydrogen is far superior.”

Scott added that light- and heavy-duty vehicles, which may call for quick refueling and returning to the road, would need the availability of hydrogen fuel in the transportation sector.

Register for the First Element conference to access on-demand and live speaker presentations. The conference runs September 7-9.

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