General Motors and Oahu Shake Hands in the Name of Green Transportation

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Ah, Hawaii. Often have I written about the renewable energy innovations they have underway across the island chain and the new projects they have in the works. This time, however, I get to write about what Hawaii plans to do to bring green transportation to their shores. A power utility company on the island of Oahu and General Motors are partnering up to create a new hydrogen fueling system that they believe could make Oahu one of the most friendly places on earth for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Hawaii’s aptly named gas company, The Gas Company, currently runs a 1,000 mile hydrogen gas pipeline across the island of Oahu that would serve as the starting point for the development of a green transportation fuel system. With this pipeline ideally placed, General Motors intends to work with the company to develop a fueling infrastructure that spans the entire island. According to Gas Co., the amount of hydrogen currently being pumped into the island of Oahu would be able to fuel a fleet of 15,000 hydrogen fuel cell cars. The initial plan is to use this pipeline to spread a fueling system throughout the city of Honolulu and along the major highway that spans the island’s coast by 2015.

In order to make this hydrogen powered green transportation possible, General Motors intends to use Hawaii as the starting point for a campaign to spread the sale of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. General Motors, in preparation for the completion of the hydrogen fuel line, plans to ship fifty of their Chevrolet Equinox hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to make use of the system. The latest Equinox hydrogen design is a modified version of the initial fuel cell vehicle General Motors announced back in 2008. While it still features similar system specifications, the hydrogen fuel cell system itself is considerably lighter. Overall, the vehicle features much of the same technology a normal SUV would have while having similar performance.

Although General Motors is convinced Hawaii is the perfect place to spark their hydrogen fuel cell revolution, there are still some who believe that hydrogen fuel cells are still a bit too expensive compared to other green transportation designs. Still, most major car manufacturers are working with a variety of hydrogen fuel cell cars to make sure they are left out in the cold. Audi in Europe is one major example outside of the United States, although Honda in Japan continues to be hydrogen fuel cell champion.

Whether the investment in hydrogen based green transportation will ultimately be worth the cash remains to be seen. However, the system really has no reason to fail beyond that. Assuming costs remain reasonable, there is no reason why the island of Oahu cannot at some point in the future become the shining example of green transportation with an entire fleet of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles traversing the roadways. It may be far off in our futures, but it can certainly happen.

Article by Richard Cooke, appearing courtesy Justmeans.

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