First hydrogen cell bus in Texas – infrastructural impediment to economy of scale
Posted by evolvingwheel on November 7, 2007
UT Austin and Gas Technology Institute (GTI) have joined hands to roll out the first hydrogen cell driven commuter bus in Texas. The 22-foot bus operates on a hybrid system that utilizes power provided by advanced battery and a hydrogen fuel cell. The bus, manufactured by Ebus Inc. has the ability to run on highways and uses fuel efficient regenerative breaking. The best part – the tail pipe spews water vapor out. Read the full article [here].
One of the problems mentioned in the article is the lack of infrastructure for hydrogen delivery points. Hydrogen, a safe fuel, is expensive to transport and store. Gasoline infrastructure in place makes the fuel cheaper to transport and deliver. However, hydrogen delivery has so far limited the commercial rollout of hydrogen enabled cars. Further, oil lobby and giant oil corporations make it more difficult to create the environment to do more research and development of hydrogen distribution systems.
The biggest takeaway from this project is the creation of a fully integrated hydrogen fueling station that generates, compresses, stores, and dispenses hydrogen on-site. It will be worth watching how this effort unfolds. Will there be enough investments to create hydrogen stations all over? Some interesting questions:
- How will the government regulations and policies drive the commercial proliferation of hydrogen stations?
- What will be time curve for investment, innovation around this technology for efficiency, break-even point, and profitability? How will the curve look?
- Will the big car companies slowly create a product portfolio with hydrogen enabled cars? Will that start from the commercial vehicles first or from the individual sedans, etc?
- How will the awareness be generated? Will private sector pay for marketing or will the governments pay for marketing targeted towards awareness and mass acceptance?
This will be a major business case study for innovation-to-market where government policies and openness will dictate the dynamics of growth.