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Toyota Plans Large-Scale California Hydrogen Plant

The plant will support Toyota's hydrogen fuel-cell trucking pilot.

Toyota is an outspoken proponent of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, but its efforts have been stymied by lack of fueling infrastructure to support those vehicles. That’s a problem Toyota is now trying to tackle in a big way.

At the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota announced plans for a large-scale generating station in California that will produce both hydrogen and electricity from a renewable source. Called Tri-Gen, the station will produce approximately 2.35 megawatts of electricity and 1.2 tons of hydrogen per day, according to Toyota. That’s enough to power the equivalent of 2,350 averaged-sized homes, and meet the daily-driving needs of nearly 1,500 vehicles, the automaker said.

The electricity and hydrogen will be generated using bio-waste from agricultural sources. Electricity will be used to power the Toyota Logistics Services facility at the Port of Long Beach, making it the first of the automaker’s U.S. facilities to run on 100 percent renewable energy. Hydrogen will be used in Toyota’s Project Portal fuel-cell semi-truck, which is currently being tested at the Port of Long Beach, as well as Toyota Mirai sedans.

The generating station was developed in concert with FuelCell Energy and is based on research conducted by the University of California at Irvine. The project is also backed by a host of government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy, California Air Resources Board, and the local South Coast Air Quality Management District and Orange County Sanitation District.

Hydrogen fueling infrastructure has developed at a slower pace than charging infrastructure for battery-electric cars. That’s not surprising, given that electric cars can rely on existing grid infrastructure for their electricity. But despite the challenges (and plans to build its own battery-powered car) Toyota remains committed to fuel cells. This big new fueling-station project is clear evidence of that.