No vehicles? No problem.
That's what one builder of a hydrogen-fueling station slated for Carson City, NV, is saying.
H2 Technologies, which is looking to break ground on the station by July and open the station within a year, says the operation could be profitable even without any revenue from vehicles filling up. That's because the company will be able to sell the oxygen that's created when the station's electrolyzer extracts hydrogen and oxygen from water, according to the Northern Nevada Business Weekly.
In order to create demand, H2 is buying four Toyota Prius hybrids and two Ford Focus cars that will be converted into hydrogen-powered vehicles that will demonstrate the value of hydrogen powertrains. But H2 Technologies' principal, Gary Lord, says his company will have a contract to sell the oxygen to a supplier of industrial gases.
Either way, H2 is set to receive a $1.1 million loan from the state of Nevada for the station. While the per-gallon price hasn't been set, Lord estimates that his company will sell hydrogen at about $10 per kilogram, which will be similar to the per-mile price of gasoline, only without the emissions. The station will create enough hydrogen supply for about 80 vehicles a day.
Late last month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said it would fund as much as $2 million worth of research towards hydrogen refueling stations, specifically to find out what kind of components need to be invented or developed to accelerate the build-out of such stations.
Last year, green-technology research firm Pike Research forecast that there would be more than 5,200 hydrogen fueling stations in operation by the end of the decade, up from 200 stations in 2010. In the U.S., there are about 60 hydrogen fueling stations, compared to about 1,000 compressed natural gas stations and more than 7,000 electric-charging stations, according to the DOE.