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Mary Nichols Shares the Joys of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ride

Friday, March 11th, 2016

Originally Published in LA Magazine
March 10, 2016

I met up with Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board, at the same place that she likes to take her 1½ year old grandson every Sunday… a gas station in West Los Angeles.

He loves to watch his grandma fuel up her brand new Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) and Nichols loves that she doesn’t have to expose her grandson to noxious gasoline odors. During our interview we hovered between the dispenser and the Mirai, gawking at technology that countless engineers have seamlessly integrated to create normaldriving and fueling experiences. It took a couple of minutes before I noticed an unusual traffic jam as a Mercedes F-Cell waited patiently to fuel up behind us. Nichols told me that was the first time that had happened to her, but she’s sure it won’t be the last.

Nichols, one of our state government’s most prominent environmental leaders, has been named as one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world for being a fierce champion of the cutting-edge technology and environmental regulations that have now been adopted by California, the U.S. and beyond.

As head of Energy Independence Now, the only nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the FCEV marketplace, I was eager to get Nichols’s impressions of the Mirai and the new hydrogen fueling stations popping up across California. For more than a decade, EIN has been one of California’s leading advocates and architects of the state’s Hydrogen Highway and we’re committed to ensuring that FCEVs play a leading role in California’s zero emission vehicle future. I usually have to travel to Sacramento from my home in L.A. for meetings like this one, but today I was delighted that I only had to travel about 4 miles to meet Nichols at one of the state’s newest hydrogen fueling stations.

—Brian Goldstein

L.A. Driver: What made you want to purchase a fuel cell vehicle?
Nichols: Someone told me I should put my money where my mouth is. This isn’t my first clean vehicle, as I also own a Honda FIT electric vehicle that I love. But it is certainly the most luxurious car I’ve ever owned. I really appreciate the sense of comfort I feel when I drive the car, the impressive safety features and I really love the color — maritime blue. That makes me happy.

Read the entire post at: http://www.lamag.com/driver/mary-nichols-shares-the-joys-of-a-hydrogen-fuel-cell-ride/

Paris COP21: A Real Turning Point

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

by EIN Board Member Terry Tamminen (with Kristina Haddad)

As the former Secretary of the California EPA, and in my current role as the President of Seventh Generation Advisors and Advisor to the R20 Regions of Climate Action, I have long been an advocate for the power of action at the state and local level in the fight to curb climate change. California’s leadership set the gold standard and to help inspire other regions to take similar actions for the last several years I have worked alongside the R20, a non-profit launched by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and other global leaders to continue work at the regional level and facilitate and deploy low carbon projects worldwide.

It is against this backdrop that I attended the COP21 conference in Paris.  As a representative for subnational action our goals were two fold – 1) To illustrate that subnational action is real and if scaled up could mean significant reductions in emissions at the national level and 2) To inform key policy makers, financial actors, and other stakeholders about the current and future trends taking place in the climate finance efforts, and set forth new strategies and investment vehicles for rapid scale-up and expansion of climate finance. To support these messages we participated in several high-level events and one-on-one meetings and released two reports “Scaling Up: From Local to Global Climate Action” and “Climate Finance: A status Report and Action Plan.”

R20 team presents Climate Finance Action Plan to French Prime Minister Valls

The report “Scaling Up: From Local to Global Climate Action” confirms that sub-national action on climate change is in many ways surpassing national efforts in scope and ambition. The report uses case studies from nine regions around the world to highlight initiatives that, if adopted nationally, would contribute significantly to, or even surpass, country-level mitigation goals. The highlighted initiatives have the potential to raise national ambition; spur additional mitigation, adaptation, and climate financing; and inject an emphasis on solutions-directed efforts into the public dialogue on climate change. From California to Rajasthan, India, the case studies reveal a range of local partnerships that exhibit strong climate leadership.

Climate Finance: A Status Report and Action Plan” provides tangible, concrete examples of how to expedite the transition to a low-carbon economy based on proven technologies and projects all over the world, such as those described in “Scaling Up”. Drafted at the request of French President Francois Hollande, who identified climate finance as critical to the negotiations at COP21, the report offers a comprehensive road map to effectively tackle climate finance challenges. The report gives examples of supportive governments in various regions around the world (at the sub-national and national level); mature low-carbon technologies; and substantial amounts of capital, but also points out that intermediaries are needed to align interests and develop projects. The Report concludes by proposing concrete solutions moving forward and will also serve as the basis for implementation of climate finance solutions post COP21.

These reports and the messages that we were able to deliver at COP21 were embraced and significantly elevated.  Governor Schwarzenegger participated in a number of COP21 events to draw attention to these two papers and continue his longstanding commitment in addressing climate change and protecting the environment. Schwarzenegger highlighted the important role that sub-national leadership is providing in reducing carbon emissions and stressed the need to accelerate the action being created at the local level.

R20 Chairman Arnold Schwarzenegger With Chinese negotiator Xie Zhenhua

Schwarzenegger gave a keynote speech to the Inter-Parliamentary Union where he formally announced the reports and presented copies to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Minister Fabius fully agreed that public policies and funds could unleash much larger private funding from a wide variety of finance institutions and private investors. Schwarzenegger also spoke to the students and faculty of Sciences Po University about the long-term nature of the climate change challenge and the important role future generations of leaders will play in addressing it.

Finally – and most critical – Schwarzenegger delivered remarks to the official UN negotiating body that was working formally integrate subnational actions into the UNFCCC negotiations for the first time in history. He highlighted how much progress sub-nationals have made to support the reasoning for this new officially sanctioned approach.

We now see that the outcome of COP21 is profound. For the first time in history almost 200 countries agreed on a goal to keep global temperature increase “well below” 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C. There is still much to be worked out and now the real work begins. But this consensus is truly a game-changer for our efforts to lower GHG emissions and expedite the transition to a clean, green economy.

(Kristina Haddad is the Senior Program Associate of Seventh Generation Advisors and a co-author of the two reports cited above.)

When it Comes to Fuel Cell Cars, the Future is Already Here

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

by Brian Goldstein, Executive Director, EIN

The L.A. Auto Show always features some of the greenest cars on the road. This year is no exception, although there are several new zero emission vehicles being showcased that might surprise green car aficionados.

A lot of people still think zero emission vehicles with long range and quick refueling times are years away from reality, but this year there are two new fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) that aren’t just being featured at the Auto Show—they’re already in select showrooms.

Toyota and Hyundai are betting big on fuel cell electric vehicles that offer high performance, greater cargo capacity, longer range and fast refueling times. They’ve recently launched a sedan (Toyota Mirai) and compact SUV (Hyundai Tucson). Meanwhile, Honda just announced they will be offering their new Clarity sedan late next year (you can check it out at the L.A. Auto show where it is making its North American debut as well).

Many people don’t realize that FCEVs operate on the same electric motors that traditional battery and plug-in electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt use. Instead of relying on batteries, FCEVs utilize hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity from the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to power the electric motor. As a result, only water vapor comes out of the exhaust.

You can read my full blogpost on LA Magazine here.

EIN’s Brian Goldstein featured panelist at Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Summit

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

EIN Executive Director Brian Goldstein was recently a featured speaker presenting a “Spotlight on Renewable Hydrogen” at the California Hydrogen Business Council Fuel Cell Summit. This session provided a progress update from the CHBC Summer Summit Renewable Hydrogen Workshop, including a briefing of government officials on the major findings.

Brian and Jeff Serfas (Managing Dir, CA Hydrogen Bus Council)

The Summit also featured national and international hydrogen and fuel cell energy industry experts and policy makers who created a forum for the exchange of information about both stationary and mobile fuel cells. The purpose of the summit was to help participants recognize the already important commercial markets for these technologies and new products and technologies about to enter the commercial marketplace. Featured topics for this year’s Summit  included:

  • Renewable Hydrogen
  • Transportation
  • Regional Environmental Goals
  • Sustainable Goods Movement and Freight
  • Stationary, Backup, and Telecom Applications
  • Energy Storage and Power-to-Gas
  • The Perceptions of Hydrogen

The Summit attracted over 200 participants from agencies, businesses, universities, and non-profit organizations. To learn more, go to www.californiahydrogensummit.com

New EIN Briefing Paper:

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

EIN has published a paper on hydrogen fuels, the value of LCFS credits and RFS RINs, and what this all means for renewable hydrogen in California.  Check it out on our Publications page.

EIN appoints new Executive Director

Thursday, July 31st, 2014
Energy Independence Now (EIN) is pleased to announce that Brian Goldstein has been appointed as its new Executive Director.   Brian replaces Tyson Eckerle, who was appointed as the Governor’s ZEV Infrastructure Project Manager in California’s GoBiz office earlier this year.
Brian’s finance background and experience developing alternative fuel infrastructure are a perfect fit for EIN and its support for investment in clean vehicles.
“We are delighted to have Brian join EIN”, says Daniel Emmett, Chairman and Founder of Energy Independence Now.  “He will be leading EIN during a pivotal period for clean transportation, as the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that we have long advocated for are poised to hit the market.”
Brian will continue to work with EIN’s team to support clean vehicle deployment in California, from a policy, industry, and community readiness perspective. “I am thrilled to be joining EIN, and looking forward to working with our dedicated partners to continue to promote the adoption of alternative fuels and advanced transportation technologies. ” say Brian. “EIN is poised to provide critical support to ensure a successful roll out of the next generation of hydrogen transportation technology in California.”

Energy Independence Now (EIN) is pleased to announce that Brian Goldstein has been appointed as its new Executive Director.   Brian replaces Tyson Eckerle, who was appointed as the Governor’s ZEV Infrastructure Project Manager in California’s GoBiz office earlier this year.
Brian’s finance background and experience developing alternative fuel infrastructure are a perfect fit for EIN and its support for investment in clean vehicles.

“We are delighted to have Brian join EIN”, says Daniel Emmett, Chairman and Founder of Energy Independence Now.  “He will be leading EIN during a pivotal period for clean transportation, as the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that we have long advocated for are poised to hit the market.”

Brian will continue to work with EIN’s team to support clean vehicle deployment in California, from a policy, industry, and community readiness perspective. “I am thrilled to be joining EIN, and looking forward to working with our dedicated partners to continue to promote the adoption of alternative fuels and advanced transportation technologies. ” say Brian. “EIN is poised to provide critical support to ensure a successful roll out of the next generation of hydrogen transportation technology in California.”

AB8 – It began with an Idea

Monday, October 7th, 2013

As advocates for clean transportation, we float ideas constantly.  Some don’t go very far; some result in approximately $2 billion of funding for alternative fuels and vehicles and air quality improvement programs. To be fair, only one idea of ours has resulted in the latter.

On September 28, 2013, Governor Brown signed AB 8 (Perea), which extends critical alternative fuel and vehicle investments and diesel emission reduction programs through 2024. This tremendous victory for the State’s long-term environmental and economic health would not have happened without the planting and execution of one key idea: using the Clean Fuels Outlet (CFO) regulation to mandate the installation of hydrogen fueling stations.

Why was the CFO so important?

The CFO, originally created by the Air Resources Board in 1990 to provide methanol, ethanol, and CNG fueling outlets, was adapted and adopted in 2012 to ensure hydrogen station development kept pace with hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) sales projections. The concept of the regulation was simple; if you sell gasoline or diesel in California, you need to provide a proportionally fair amount of clean fuels to meet projected demand. Adapting the CFO for hydrogen was an idea pitched and championed through the process by EIN.

For obvious reasons, oil companies were not fans of the CFO regulation and its 2012 changes. However, rather than pursuing a protracted legal battle likely damaging (or at least resource intensive) to both sides, the ARB and Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA is the trade association that represents the bulk of companies involved in petroleum business) struck a grand bargain: the ARB would put the CFO on the shelf if WSPA and its members could help pass legislation to fund hydrogen fueling stations.

AB8 was crafted in this vein; it effectively eliminates the CFO and supports public investment in hydrogen. However, hydrogen is only part of the story. The bill authorizes substantial investments in all alternative fuels and vehicles (hydrogen, electricity, biofuels, CNG, propane, etc.) and also extends the Carl Moyer Diesel Emissions Reduction and Air Quality Improvement Programs.

WSPA support was critical to the effort.  In California, any bill that raises fees or taxes must achieve a 2/3-majority vote in both the Assembly and Senate to make it to the Governor’s desk. AB8 would not have passed without WSPA’s political clout. In short, the CFO turned WSPA into powerful alternative fuel and vehicle advocates.

As with any action of this magnitude, it takes a village to bring a long-term vision to fruition. A tremendous amount of credit rests on the shoulders of the ARB and legislative leaders, as well as the broad coalition of organizations that worked to generate support for AB 8.  AB 8 would not have happened without them.  But it also would not have happened without the CFO Regulation, which turned out to be a good idea made even better.

What’s Coming Up In 2013

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Happy New Year from Energy Independence Now! We have an exciting year ahead, and wanted to give you a quick look at our successes in 2012 and an update on what is coming up in 2013.

A Quick Look Back at 2012

2012 – a Pivotal Year for Zero Emission Cars

EIN’s fundamental project goal for 2012 was to ensure a clear path to commercial availability of zero-emission vehicle technology across all vehicle classes. Our focus on hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, which can be cost effectively scaled from small cars to Class 8 trucks, has helped keep the door open for the technology. Here’s a look at 2012 through EIN glasses:

At the start of the year, the California Air Resources Board modified the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) and Clean Fuels Outlet (CFO) regulations to put California on a path to reduced GHG’s from automobiles by 80 percent by 2050, and substantially reduce criteria pollutant emissions. EIN actively influenced both regulations.

These regs were amended with the backdrop of increased plug-in electric vehicle offerings (led by the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf), in a year that saw Tesla’s all-electric Model S named the “Car of the Year” by Motor Trend and Automobile Magazine. Governor Brown improved the chances of successful ZEV deployment when he directed state agencies to coordinate and develop a ZEV Action Plan to meet near and long-term goals. EIN will continue to contribute to this effort in the coming year.

EIN’s Key 2012 Contribution

While EIN used its influence to ensure strong ZEV and CFO regs, as well as balanced ZEV Action Plan planning, our fundamental contribution came from establishing a collective understanding of the costs of hydrogen fueling stations. This understanding is absolutely necessary for a successful hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle launch.

Our 2012 analysis established the consensus cost estimate for establishing this network. This estimate is now the foundation of legislative efforts to fund early commercial hydrogen stations, and a major reason comfort exists around directing state funds into early market hydrogen infrastructure. Public investment is critical to bridge the gap to a commercial, privately funded market. We continue to serve as a resource for understanding the cash flows of hydrogen fueling stations.

Moving Forward – Looking to 2013

Developing the Hydrogen Network Investment Plan for California

In 2012, with contributions from EIN, the California Fuel Cell Partnership developed its Roadmap Plan for the early commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). This plan clearly designates what is needed to commercialize these vehicles. It does not, however, designate how to do it.

With broad set of backers, including the South Coast Air Quality Management District, California Fuel Cell Partnership, CARB, Toyota, and Daimler, EIN will spend 2013 developing and implementing an investment plan for early market infrastructure. The idea is to gain key stakeholder buy-in, and increase the certainty around hydrogen fueling station investments.

If we generate the necessary consensus, this Hydrogen Network Investment Plan will ensure that FCEVs can be adopted by the mass market. Ideally, this plan will be replicated throughout the country and world, leaving us all better off.

Thank you for your interest and support!

EIN Staff

Hottest Year On Record

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

If you’re living in Central or Southern California, the frigid nights right now might make it hard to remember the warmth of last year – however, NOAA scientists recently announced that 2012 was the WARMEST year on record…EVER. The 55.3 °F average temperature in the contiguous United States last year was 3.2 °F HIGHER than the 20th century average. With the warmest spring on record, the second warmest summer, a warmer-than-average fall, and the fourth warmest winter, 2012 was 1°F hotter than the previous record year, 1998.

Images from NOAA’s Climate Extremes Index show the extreme maximum and minimum temperatures and dryness experienced across the US by region during the spring and summer seasons. In the spring, all regions except the North West experienced a range from above-average temperatures to the highest recorded temperatures. In the summer, all regions except for the North West and the South East experienced above average temperatures.

A map from NOAA’s State of the Climate National Overview for 2012 shows the record dryness that occurred across the US throughout the year. 26 states in the contiguous US experienced precipitation at levels ranging from below normal to record driest – resulting in a summer drought footprint comparable to the droughts of the 1950s.

NOAA also announced that the US Climate Extremes Index showed 2012 as the second most extreme year on record at almost twice the average value. The extreme climate value, based on extremes in temperature, precipitation, and landfalling tropical cyclones, contributed to the most severe and extensive drought conditions for the US in at least 25 years with average precipitation at 2.57 inches BELOW average. 80% of agricultural land suffered from drought, and although it’s too early to really predict how higher commodity prices will affect retail food prices, there have already been monthly price increases for poultry, dairy, eggs, beef, and pork so far in 2013.

An extreme climate contributing to droughts and higher food prices are symptoms of climate change. Climate change is a result of increased greenhouse gas levels in our planet’s atmosphere. Greenhouse gas levels are currently increasing at the fastest rate in hundreds of thousands of years.

Regardless of any political debate over the causes of climate change, there is no doubt that a connection exists between human activity and greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, in the United States, transportation is THE LARGEST end-use contributor of greenhouse gases. Over the last decade or so, transportation represented 45% of the total net increase in nationwide greenhouse gas emissions.  In 2010 alone, transportation contributed 27% of total US greenhouse gas emissions.  As populations and per capita wealth increase, without smart growth policies, transportation use will undoubtedly go up as well. Despite this forthcoming problem, many opportunities for improvement exist within the transportation sector. Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved through low-carbon fuels, innovative vehicle technologies, and the collaboration of multiple stakeholders across multiple industries. Read more about EIN’s role in solving the transportation-climate change problem here, and about steps you can take to reduce GHGs from your transportation.

By Jessalyn Ishigo

The Road Ahead: Challenges to Confronting Climate Change

Monday, August 20th, 2012

As we near the end of the summer, it is important to reflect on how truly significant these past few months have been. In the United States, a heat wave in June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records, July came in as the hottest month ever and a drought has torn across over 60 percent of the lower 48 states. James Hansen, one of the world’s most respected climate scientists stated that the odds that natural variability caused these temperature anomalies is the equivalent of “quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay your bills”.  In other words, we are experiencing climate change driven by the emissions humans are putting into the atmosphere.

In light of these current events in climate history, it is important to consider the consequence of inaction in the context of climate change, as well as the many roadblocks that stand in our way.  In July’s issue of Rolling Stone, Bill McKibben, of 350.org, wrote an article entitled “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” which cites three critical numbers that are essential to understanding climate change today.

The first of these numbers is two degrees Celsius, the number which scientists agree that global temperature increase should not exceed. Thus far, we have raised the earth’s temperature about 0.8 degrees Celsius. While this is still less than half of the two degree ‘cap’, this temperature increase has caused more damage than most scientists ever expected: devastating floods, heat waves that exceed our temperature records, hurricanes, significant loss of Arctic summer sea ice, and the acidification of the ocean (just to name a few). If two degrees is our goal, perhaps we should begin to consider the earth-altering consequences that accompany that increase in temperature.

The second number McKibben cites is 565 Gigatons, the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent that scientists believe we can continue to emit into the atmosphere by the middle of this century while retaining hope of staying below the two degree goal. Unfortunately, the third number is 2,795 Gigatons, which is the amount of carbon dioxide contained in the fossil fuels that we currently plan to burn. This is the carbon found in the PROVEN coal, oil, and gas reserves of fuel companies and countries, like Venezuela or Kuwait. This number is five times higher than 565 Gigatons. Although these numbers are not perfect, they do show us a huge disparity between our goals and our current actions and plans.

Without substantial changes in policy or business, we are almost destined to burn 2,230 more Gigatons of carbon dioxide than our atmosphere can handle. At least two factors place considerable inertia behind this likelihood: profits and subsidies. Fossil fuel company value is tied up in these unburned resources; returns on the resources impact large and small investors, as well as ordinary people’s retirement portfolios. Unless we can pay companies to keep carbon in the ground, they only make money if we burn it. In terms of subsidies, the U.S. government has long supported fossil fuels.

Between 2002 and 2008 renewable energy received $12.2 billion in government support, while fossil fuels received $70.2 billion, while oil companies continue to have record profits. Over the past 15 years, the federal government gave the oil and gas industry five times the support that it gave to renewables.

We have a tremendous challenge in front of us, and we cannot achieve any meaningful greenhouse gas reductions if the incentives are lined up against our goals. With political will, we can remove at least one roadblock to confronting climate change: subsidies. Eliminating federal support of the oil and gas industries will go a long way towards leveling the playing field for alternative, carbon emission free energy. We need to make it attractive for traditional fossil fuel industries to go into clean energy, or make it so clean energy companies have a fair chance to compete, in order to give renewable energy a fighting chance.

One thing is for certain, if we do not change our energy system, we are destined for more extreme variable weather patterns. As this summer has showed us, climate change can be both uncomfortable and devastating.

~by guest blogger, Audrey Neuman