Summer Luck on the Hydrogen Highway
July 26, 2018 by Colin Armstrong
Admittedly this post may be more suitable for Facebook, but I think it is important for the broad business community to understand the hydrogen (H2) and fuel cell vehicle (FCV) opportunity and how easy it will be to replace your gas car with a hydrogen vehicle as the fueling infrastructure continues to grow. My story of summer luck began this past Friday afternoon as I headed to our Vancouver station. This station is Canada’s first retail H2 refuelling station and has only been open since mid-June. As many of you may be aware, new stations usually have a few teething pains in the first couple months of operation but I was in luck: we had a quick-and-easy fill in under five minutes, and drove away with a fuel range of 515 km for the weekend. I was lucky to be heading up to the terminus of BC’s Hydrogen Highway for the weekend: Whistler. And even luckier that I got to drive up with my 12-year-old daughter for some great father-daughter time. All packed!
First stop: Maggs 99 in Squamish, the local hotspot for amazing Mexican food. Very luckily, no line up when we arrive as we were starving. After that, we had a beautiful evening heading up the Sea to Sky section of the Hydrogen Highway. As we passed the location of the Tesla Super Charger, a beautiful rainbow appeared, almost like the gods were trying to get us to stop (#sharetheroadElon). Luckily, we had lots of fuel and kept heading for Whistler. An hour and a half into the trip, my daughter had enough of Bob Seager and talk about the virtues of hydrogen, and slipped on her headset to listen to a book. This gave me time to reflect as I drove by the old site of the BC Transit Hydrogen fueling station that I was lucky enough to be apart of building and operating. (I was also lucky enough to get out of doing the Christmas-dinner dishes one year thanks to having to do a service call on December 25. Instead I spent the evening in minus 15C under 3000kg of liquid hydrogen unplugging frozen air lines. But that’s another story on the Hydrogen Highway for another time.)
After a beautiful weekend at Whistler, driving the kids back and forth—emission-free—to the lake, it was time to head back to the city. Admittedly, I had a bit of range anxiety but I still had 250 km to go and the station was only 150 km away. One concern returning from Whistler is the potential for traffic delays – interesting to consider though that FCVs don’t really use more fuel at idle and in slow traffic. Lucky enough, no traffic and another beautiful drive back down the Hydrogen Highway, ready to start the work week. The HTEC team is now focused on building the Victoria station. So am thinking my next family trip will be to Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island with the surf boards strapped to the roof.