Shell’s Closure of Hydrogen Stations Raises Concerns for FCEV Owners

ARKANSAS, February 13 (Future Headlines)- The journey of owning a Toyota Mirai, or any hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCEV), has been fraught with challenges due to the scarcity and unreliability of hydrogen filling stations. The difficulty in refilling these vehicles has been a persistent issue, overshadowing their potential as environmentally friendly transportation options. For FCEV owners in Los Angeles, where the infrastructure is already limited, the recent announcement of Shell’s decision to shut down several Bay Area filling stations raises significant concerns.

Throughout our yearlong ownership saga with the Mirai, we experienced firsthand the struggles of finding accessible and reliable hydrogen refueling stations. While the Mirai itself is a remarkable car, the scarcity of filling stations posed a constant source of frustration. Now, with Shell’s decision to close a handful of stations in the Bay Area and exit California entirely, the challenges for FCEV owners are exacerbated.

Shell’s closure announcement, effective immediately as of February 6, affects seven stations in Berkeley, Citrus Heights, San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose. Andrew Beard, Vice President of Shell Hydrogen, cited “hydrogen supply complications and other external market factors” as reasons for the closures. While other hydrogen station operators, such as True Zero, Iwatani, Messer, and Air Products, continue to operate in California, Shell’s withdrawal from the market sends a concerning message about the future of FCEVs in the state.

Currently, there are 17 operational stations in the Bay Area, although several are offline at the time of this writing, and only one in the Sacramento area. Shell’s decision also means the cessation of its plans to build 48 new hydrogen stations in California, a significant setback for the state’s hydrogen infrastructure. The company stated that it made the choice to permanently close its light-duty station network in California in early 2024, further diminishing the accessibility of hydrogen refueling options.

While Shell’s actions may be attributed to market conditions, the impact on FCEV owners and the broader hydrogen ecosystem is undeniable. The closure of filling stations raises questions about the long-term viability of FCEVs as a transportation solution. It remains to be seen whether other station operators will follow suit, potentially further limiting access to hydrogen refueling infrastructure.

In light of these developments, FCEV owners and advocates are left to ponder the future of hydrogen-powered transportation in California. The challenges posed by station closures underscore the need for concerted efforts to address the barriers hindering the widespread adoption of FCEVs. As the state seeks to achieve its ambitious environmental goals, ensuring a robust and reliable hydrogen infrastructure must be a priority.

Reporting by Kevin Wood; Editing by Sarah White