The five states to keep watch over during the next five years as emerging fuel cell havens aren’t where you think they are.
Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland and Texas topped the Fuel Cells 2000 list of up-and -coming fuel cell states in their annual census released in June. The five unexpected fuel-cell friendly states got their designation from Fuel Cells 2000 because of the massive research initiatives, policies and fuel cell installations that have basically “sprung up out of nowhere so to speak,” said Jennifer Gangi, program director for Fuel Cells 2000.
“I think the U.S. overall has put a lot of money into fuel cell research and deployment,” Gangi said. Despite federal budget cuts that slashed incentives encouraging the use of fuel cells, states still believe in fuel cell deployments and so do companies and automakers, judging by the plans set to roll out during the next few years, said Gangi.
In Delaware, Bloom Energy recently announced plans to open its East Coast base in Newark, which is a huge coup for the state, said Gangi.
In addition, Delaware has one of the nation’s best net-metering policies, according to New Energy Choices’ “Freeing the Grid Report.” Analyst James Rose points out the report also determined that Delaware’s interconnection policies, the guidelines that dictate how a clean energy system can “plug in” to the grid, “are not so great,” said Rose.
Florida landed its spot on the list because of more than 100 ongoing research projects at the university level. Bing Energy also relocated to the state, said Gangi, and Florida’s progressive business policies – favorable to the fuel cell industry – will also likely attract more business and provide jobs.
In Hawaii, the state announced earlier this year that it would collaborate with General Motors, the Department of Energy and The Gas Company, which is Hawaii’s major gas provider, to open 25 hydrogen stations in Oahu. TGC will tap into its pipeline to separate the hydrogen for fueling stations for fuel cell vehicles.
The partnership makes sense. Hawaii has aimed to reduce its reliance on petroleum by 70 percent. GM has invested more than $1 billion in fuel cell transportation, and is developing a fuel cell system that could be ready for limited commercial use by 2015, the automotive company said when it announced the hydrogen infrastructure pilot.
In Maryland, a fuel works research center opened at the University of Maryland, and the state’s chain of Whole Foods Markets stores boast nearly the largest fleet of fuel cell forklifts in the nation. The state is also home to the American headquarters of a German fuel cell manufacturer.
As for Texas, a recent surge in fuel-cell friendly policy and deployments landed them on the list. Gangi also points to forklifts used at facilities owned and operated by Nestle Waters and Cisco.
Most fuel cell industry watchers would have assumed California, Connecticut, New York, Ohio and South Carolina would have topped the list. In fact, those five states have the most policies and incentive programs up and running to date. But, the five new states identified in the recent report have far more research in the pipeline and fuel cell incentive policies that will be in full bloom in the next few years.
The report also identified three states, Arizona, New Mexico and Wisconsin, where fuel cell activity is just beginning.
On the opposite end of the spectrum it was noted that in Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota and Vermont, there was no evidence of fuel cell or hydrogen related activity.