News | MMTT: What Does A Rollout of Fuel Cell Electric Cars Look Like For Oregon And Washington?

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by Micha Kempe, USC Class of 2019

On January 12, the Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities Coalition hosted their annual series Mindful Mobility Tech Talks (MMTT). The annual series typically features intellectual conversation, or “Mindful” ways to approach mobility, including new modes, different fuels, and the latest in low-emission technologies. This year’s webinar featured pocket-sized presentations and panel discussions on groundbreaking innovations in hydrogen fuel technology and related topics.



Michael Graham, Deputy Director of the Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities Coalition, moderated the discussion on what the rollout of Fuel Cell Electric Cars will look like for Oregon And Washington. Graham was accompanied seven panelists: Bill Elrick, Executive Director, California Fuel Cell Partnership; Matthew Klippenstein, Western Canada for the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association; Keith Wipke, Hydrogen Fuel Technologies Program Manager, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Edmond Young, Hydrogen Fuel Infrastructure Development, Toyota; Steve Ellis, Outreach and Customer Relations Manager, True Zero; Wayne Leighty, Hydrogen Commercial Head North America, Shell; and Gil Castillo, Senior Group Manager, Product Strategy and Regulatory Compliance, Hyundai Motor America.


Bill Elrick asked how to begin to change the hydrogen network coverage infrastructure. The panel agreed that hydrogen charging stations come first to enable the market launch and establish initial network coverage. Elrick suggested that there should be installed in clusters around big cities and have “Connectors” and “Destination” stations to enable travel in early markets and across states. This is the consensus vision for a commercial launch based on strategies and policies learned in California.


Elrick shared his excitement about the future of hydrogen charging infrastructure, stating, "It was a pleasure to join the Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities MMTT event today and discuss the role of hydrogen and fuel cell mobility in the global renewable energy and zero emission transportation transitions. As the group identified and discussed, hydrogen is no longer seen as a question of ‘If,’ rather one of ‘Where First’ and ‘How Fast.’ Having the opportunity to engage with forward-thinking stakeholders like this who recognize the synergies and opportunities for hydrogen and fuel cells to accelerate these transitions was exciting and I expect just the start of something even greater."”


Edmond Young reiterated Elrick’s point that hydrogen charging must come first to refuel new and improved infrastructure. He noted that Toyota has sold over 9,000 Mirai vehicles, and over 10,000 fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have been sold / leased in the U.S. To calculate how much investment is needed for hydrogen refueling infrastructure, Toyota uses the Upstream (production), Midstream (delivery), Downstream (station equipment) model. The hydrogen infrastructure must include coverage, redundancy, reliability, and future growth.


Wayne Leighty shared his belief that hydrogen can fuel a more sustainable future, as the transportation sector is now America's largest source of emissions. Hydrogen is emerging as a valuable path to a more sustainable sector, and Shell is building infrastructure and supply. Additionally, they are investing in renewable & decarbonized hydrogen supply. “As an innovative early investor in hydrogen, we’re using clean power, renewable biogas, converting wastes, and carbon capture to make Hydrogen, renewable and carbon neutral.”


Matthew Klippenstein stated, “Webinar attendees learned from California and British Columbia’s experiences with hydrogen in transport, with lessons that can be applied in their home states. Hydrogen has really come into its own in the past few years – it wasn’t needed for modest climate efforts but is the keystone to Net Zero plan – we have a chance to build out the I-5 corridor and keep growing from there.” Kippenstien reiterated, “Hydrogen infrastructure in 2022 is like cell phone infrastructure in 1982 – it’s expensive, there’s not much of a network, and a lot of people just wonder why not stick with wires and landlines? I was too young to participate in the cell phone revolution, but I’m the right age for the hydrogen revolution now.”


Keith Wipke found that there are unique opportunities when it comes to investment in hydrogen infrastructure, including deep decarbonization, economic growth, and jobs. Scenarios and Optimization with RoDEO (Revenue Operation and Device Optimization) is used to optimize configuration and size of low temperature electrolyzers given applications (to date: vehicles) and tariff structures. There are also opportunities with the systems analysis with SERA (Scenario Evaluation and Regionalization Analysis) model, which provides insights that can guide infrastructure development and transportation investment decisions and accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.


Webinar attendee John Shears, who is a consultant at Air Quality, Climate, & Clean Transportation, stated, “California offers capacity credits through its program to help address/bridge the transition from the initial lower usage of stations built with the anticipation of later full capacity use. The California governor's proposed budget from this week includes significant funding to kickstart the Hydrogen ZEV market.”


Cary Gaynor P.E., M. ASCE, a Civil Engineer at CMTS LLC and webinar attendee, suggested, “Personally, I think Fuel Cell is the way to go for Class 8 heavy haul and for bus transportation. This could well bring in heavy construction as well… the earth moving, ditch digging, road building, and crane equipment. Working in municipal and heavy construction, Tier 3 and 4 Diesel emission engines are costly to build, costly to maintain, and generally a pain. Clean Hydrogen can solve a lot of these issues but I don’t see much excitement or even though there. Blending H2 into Methane for gas distribution and use, to me, is a bridge to a hydrogen economy and not an end unto itself, and should be subject to term limits.”


It was a tremendous honor and pleasure for me to attend the webinar. I am excited for the future of hydrogen technology as it becomes more mainstream. This technology is promising. Hydrogen is set to change the entire automotive industry and is on the cusp of becoming mainstream. I look forward to learning and discovering the new initiatives of hydrogen technology.


For full event footage, visit For information about an upcoming and related event, the Green Transportation Summit & Expo (GTSE) on August 16-18th, 2022, visit


About the Author:

Micha Kempe earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Real Estate Development with a minor in Business Administration from University of Southern California and is a frequent contributor to METRANS publications. Kempe founded the USC Mobility Lab, a collaboration with METRANS and USC Transportation focusing on analyzing mobility data and solving transportation problems and received the Order of the Laurel and the Palm upon graduation, the highest honor accorded to less than one percent of undergraduates completing their programs of study, recognizing leadership that touches multiple facets of university life.