Rohnert Park Commission Unanimous on Hydrogen Fueling Station

by Woody Hastings  |  September 30, 2015

The next time you are over at
Amy’s Kitchen in Rohnert Park, filling up on delicious, organic, plant-based
food, glance across the street and take a look at the Union 76 Station there.
It will soon become part of California’s history-in-the-making clean fuel

On Thursday, September 24th,
the Rohnert Park City Planning Commission unanimously approved plans for a
fueling station where you may, some day, fill up on the “organic” version of
automotive fuel: renewably-produced hydrogen.


[Pictured above: James Provenzano, President of Riverside-based
Clean Air Now, presents the project description at the Rohnert Park Planning
Commission, September 24] 

The hydrogen is used to power
electric vehicles that have fuel cells and onboard hydrogen storage tanks that
are refilled similarly to how gasoline tanks are refilled. They are known as Fuel
Cell Electric Vehicles, or FCEVs.

The hydrogen is produced onsite
using clean electricity from Sonoma Clean Power. The electricity is run through an
electrolyser, a unit that obtains hydrogen from water. Water is two atoms of
hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. The hydrogen is stored onsite in pressure
tanks, and the oxygen is safely vented.

All of the equipment required to
manufacture and store the hydrogen onsite will be housed in an 18’ by 43’
enclosure at the location. It will be dispensed at a fueling dispenser that
looks very much like a gasoline pump.

When Planning
Commissioners asked Bryce Pattison, the station owner, why and how his station
ended up being chosen as one of the sixteen Northern California stations to
host a hydrogen pump, he responded, “I’m the third generation co-owner of Royal
Petroleum, and this kind of thing has been in the works for a long time. In
fact, it began with the second generation. We’re very excited about alternative
energy, which may seem a little contradictory, but we’re always looking toward
the future. We’ve been involved in solar projects, biodiesel and a lot of other
stuff. There is a lot of thought and engineering that went into this project,
it’s going to be a great project.”


[Pictured above: June Brashares of Sebastopol, an
EV pioneer who converted a VW Rabbit to run on batteries in 1990, speaks in
support of the project.]

The fueling station, located at 5060 Redwood
Drive in Rohnert Park, will be the first publicly accessible hydrogen
fueling station in Sonoma County and is pursuant to Governor Brown’s March 2012
Executive Order
the state government to help accelerate the market for zero-emission vehicles
in California. The policy includes battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and
hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles as zero-emission, giving consumers
something they want: choice.

The California
Energy Commission
providing about two-thirds of the funding for this HyGen
led project. HyGen Industries is
a California-based renewable hydrogen infrastructure project developer, founded
in 1998.

Several automakers are in the
process of introducing FCEVs, which typically have ranges in the hundreds of
miles and refueling times comparable to the time it takes to fuel up on
gasoline. Those automakers include Honda, Toyota, General Motors, Hyundai,
Mercedes Benz, Ford, and BMW. Again, more choices for consumers means more
opportunities to put a dent in the 65% of the greenhouse gas pie in Sonoma
attributable to transportation.


[Pictured above: A working example of the
PowerTech hydrogen dispenser that will be installed in Rohnert Park]


Woody Hastings is the Renewable Energy
Implementation Manager at The Climate Center. He is also a
founding member of the Board of Directors of HyGen Industries. He can be
reached at

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