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Fuel Cell Industry Forges New Alliance for Rapid Deployment of Heavy-Duty Vehicles

By October 15, 2020 6   min read  (1113 words)

October 15, 2020 |

Today, members of the hydrogen and fuel cell industry formally announced the forging of a new alliance to effect rapid deployment of zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks, buses, locomotives, vessels, aircraft and off-road equipment throughout the Western United States.

The Western States Hydrogen Alliance (WSHA), is made up of leading figures in the heavy-duty hydrogen fuel cell industry and will focus on a rapid increase in development and deployment of fuel cell electric technology across multiple commercial sectors in 13 western states.

“Hydrogen fuel cells will power the future of zero-emission mobility in these heavy-duty, hard to electrify sectors,” said WSHA Executive Director Roxana Bekemohammadi. “That fact is indisputable. This new alliance exists to ensure government and industry can work efficiently
together to accelerate the coming of this revolution.”

The newly-formed alliance is being supported by an external Advisory Board made up of current elected and appointed officials from the Western U.S. that will help steer the organization’s policy activities and serve as a bridge between industry and government.

“Hydrogen fuel cell electric technology represents a major opportunity to eliminate dirty diesel pollution from some of our most impacted areas,” said Senator Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas). “I am honored to continue serving the people of my district by participating in this new
alliance that aims to bring clean, zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles to our community in the near-term and bring an end to the public health crisis that diesel pollution represents.”

Founding members of the alliance include Ballard Power Systems, Capacity Trucks, El Dorado National, Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine, Hyundai, Plug Power, and The Protium Company.

“At El Dorado National, we’ve been providing commercially-available hydrogen fuel cell electric buses for six years now,” said Tony Wayne, president of El Dorado National which manufactures fuel cell electric buses at their production facility in Riverside, Calif. “It’s not new news to us that this technology is going to be a necessity as our society looks toward decarbonizing the heavy-duty sector and we are happy to be working with our colleagues in the broader industry to accelerate the deployment of zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles.”

Members of the alliance include big names in the hydrogen fuel cell and automotive industries as well as startup companies like The Protium Company, headquartered in Pullman, Wash.

The Protium Company specializes in hydrogen storage technologies for aerospace and other applications where specialized, cryogenic storage is needed for the technology to thrive.

“Innovation is the key to the future,” said Dr. Ian Richardson, CEO of The Protium Company. “We are on the verge of a zero-emission revolution in our society and all we need are the building blocks to get there. Technology is one block in that structure, industry collaboration and government facilitation are two others. WSHA will help bring all three together to form an executable zero-emission future where hydrogen fuel plays a key role in decarbonizing our world. That is something we are happy to be a part of.”

Bekemohammadi said the organization will announce several additional members in the coming days, along with a list of initiatives the group will be spearheading throughout the Western region.

“It’s an exciting day for us to unveil this new alliance to the world,” said Bekemohammadi. “But, the real work begins now. I grew up the daughter of middle eastern immigrants, wedged in-between an interstate freeway and a major industrial center in Los Angeles. My old neighborhood is still in the 98th percentile for pollution burden, all because of heavy-duty diesel pollution. I absolutely will not stop until zero-emission fuel cell electric vehicles have eliminated diesel pollution from our communities.”

Members of the Alliance have interests in both increasing the rapid deployment of existing applications for the technology as well as working together to accelerate the development of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle technology in new applications.

“Fuel cell technology has the opportunity to solve many of our society’s air quality and climate change woes,” said Sanjay Shrestha, CSO at Plug Power. “It will only do that with a concerted effort on the part of industry, government, and each of us. WSHA is aimed at fostering the rapid deployment of zero-emission fuel cell vehicles across multiple heavy-duty and commercial sectors and we at Plug Power are proud to be a part of that push and to contribute to the acceleration of zero-emission adoption however we can.”

With a regional focus on the Western U.S., the Alliance will aim to deploy commercial fuel cell electric vehicles in applications from the Rocky Mountains to the Hawaiian Islands and everywhere in between, focusing first on areas hardest hit by diesel pollution.

“Wasatch Front communities continue to suffer from poor air quality and pollution. Working towards zero-emission back-up power and vehicles, will improve the health of all Utahns,” said Representative Melissa Ballard (R-Salt Lake City) who sits on the alliance’s Advisory Board. “I am honored to continue serving the people of Utah by participating in this new alliance. It will facilitate the growth of a robust hydrogen economy here in Utah and throughout the West, while promoting supportive and responsible policy.”

The alliance’s Advisory Board will support operations throughout the Western U.S. as the alliance works to get vehicles on the ground in population centers across the region.

“Hydrogen fuel cell technology represents a major opportunity in this country as we look to eliminate diesel pollution and stem the tide of climate change,” said Senator Chris Hansen (DDenver). “I’m proud to serve as an Advisor to WSHA as they seek to help usher in a new era of zero-emission mobility in Colorado and throughout the region.”

While the majority of hydrogen fuel cell activity currently exists within the State of California, the Alliance hopes to increase that market while developing a regional market outside the boundaries of the Golden State.

“Hydrogen fuel cell technology may be the only way for us to meet our stated decarbonization goals in some of the hard-to-electrify sectors WSHA is targeting,” said Alberto Ayala, executive director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, who also led California’s efforts in exposing the 2015 Volkswagon emissions scandal during his previous role at the California Air Resources Board. “I’m happy to serve as a facilitator for the fuel cell industry in my role as an Advisor to WSHA, and help them bring zero-emission solutions to all communities, especially those hardest hit by historically disparate pollution burdens. In the end, this is about all people partaking in the promise of zero emission transportation and the green economy, but it takes vision, resolve, and coordination as WSHA is attempting to do to get there.”

 

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