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Renewable Hydrogen Demonstration Project gets $1.9M funding

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The Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) in partnership with the Douglas County Public Utility District, the Renewable Hydrogen Alliance, and Toyota Motor North America has received a $1.9 million grant from the Centralia Coal Transition board to fund the Renewable Hydrogen Demonstration Project, which will deliver the first hydrogen fueling station for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) in Washington State.

With the funding provided by the board, the Renewable Hydrogen Demonstration Project will lay the foundation for the expected growth of zero-emission personal and heavy-duty hydrogen powered fuel cell electric vehicles.

The Centralia Coal Transition board provides grants to improve energy efficiency, educate and retrain workers for the next generation of jobs, and fund energy technology projects that improve the environment.

The renewable hydrogen will be made from Douglas County PUD’s clean, renewable hydropower via electrolysis, a process in which electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Renewable hydrogen holds the potential to substantially reduce carbon emissions from a multitude of sectors including transportation, agriculture, petroleum refining, and natural gas utilities.

“I am excited to see the Centralia Coal Transition Board and Douglas County PUD move forward with this innovative project. As Washington continues to transition to a clean energy economy, zero-emission fuels, like renewable hydrogen, can play an important role in decarbonizing our transportation, energy, and industrial sectors. Transitioning to clean fuels as soon as possible is critical to meeting our climate goals.”

Governor Jay Inslee.

Bi-partisan support to develop renewable hydrogen production began with Sen. Brad Hawkins’ (R-East Wenatchee) sponsorship of SB 5588 in 2019, providing authority for the state’s Public Utility Districts to produce and distribute renewable hydrogen.

HB 2042, the Green Transportation Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma) and Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama) included incentives for development of renewable hydrogen production and distribution infrastructure. Rep. Mike Steele (R-Chelan) secured funding for Douglas PUD to begin engineering their production facility.

“This project will deliver a transformational demonstration of renewable hydrogen that has the real potential to bring more zero emission vehicles to our roads and reduce harmful emissions. By pairing renewable hydrogen production with the first fuel cell electric vehicle fleet in Washington, the project will build public awareness around hydrogen and fuel cell technology and assist the state in expanding support of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle transportation in the coming years.”

Evan Ramsey, senior director of the Renewables Program at BEF.

Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle technology is an emerging priority for several automotive manufacturers, including Toyota Motor North America. These vehicles offer long range (more than 300 miles) and fast fueling (less than 5 minutes), which is comparable in range and fueling time to conventional vehicles.

“The opportunity to demonstrate fuel cell electric vehicle technology has never been timelier as Douglas County PUD is currently procuring a first of its kind renewable hydrogen electrolyzer facility, which can provide clean fuel to Washington State, This project will pair our new renewable hydrogen production facility with a new hydrogen fueling station and begin by serving a fleet of approximately 10 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.”

Molly Simpson, Douglas County PUD’s Commission president.

The hydrogen station in Washington State is expected to open in late 2021, with the vehicles in demonstration fleets shortly thereafter. Initial site selection will target locations with proximity to public fleets in the Lewis and southern Thurston County area—and also halfway between the Seattle and Vancouver/Portland metro areas.

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