Clean and abundant, hydrogen is the fuel of the future—and always will be. Or so the joke goes. In California, for example, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger envisioned 100 auto-ready hydrogen stations along the coast. After five years, however, only a few dozen are in place, and enthusiasm—not to mention funding—has waned. Without a larger network, automakers won’t commercialize hydrogen-ready cars. But without cars, few companies have been keen to invest in fueling stations—until now.
Last month SunHydro, a hydrogen-fuel company based in Connecticut, debuted a (for-profit) station in the Hartford area. The plan, says president Michael Grey, is to build at least eight more fueling stations along Interstate 95, from Portland, Maine, to Miami, creating the world’s first privately funded “hydrogen highway.” Automakers are intrigued: Toyota donated 10 hydrogen-powered Highlanders for SunHydro to demo in the community ahead of a nationwide rollout in 2015. And a Boston--area Chevy dealer is sending a vehicle north for similar use in Portland. The full chain is still two years off, says Grey. But after forever as a future fuel, that’s hardly a wait.