When we keep talking about alternative fuels hydrogen often gets the center stage. It may well be the future fuel for vehicles. But it often faces the chicken or egg dilemma. Suppose you have hydrogen driven vehicle but where are you suppose to pull up and refuel your vehicle? Will hydrogen gasoline stations be enough in number and strategically located to inspire confidence among the consumers to buy such vehicles?
A potential consumer will be quite hesitant if certain marketing obstacles won’t be taken care of. Those hurdles will restrict the growth of hydrogen driven transportation system and its widespread acceptance will be difficult.
According to an article by James Winebrake and Patrick Meyer in Technovation: The International Journal of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Technology Management, developing hydrogen-fuel infrastructure will not be a cakewalk. To make it affordable, efficient and acceptable to common consumer, there are a number of barriers to overcome. However, we have to believe that a 100-year dominance of petroleum as a transportation fuel is coming to an end. It might be due to escalating prices, shortage, and a need to cut down environmentally degrading emissions.
But the widespread acceptance of hydrogen fuel has to pass the test of the “chicken and egg” phenomenon. The manufacturers won’t be able to convince the consumers if refueling and service infrastructure is not well developed. And why would anyone be interested in developing the infrastructure if enough number of vehicles are not plying on the road?
In the study, the authors formed a computer-based model, called H2VISION. Here they simulated the dynamic relationships between vehicle purchases and refueling infrastructure. On studies based on this computer model, they pointed out, how the cycle of vehicle purchases and infrastructure development operates. They also make recommendations to policymakers who plan to give incentives to hydrogen transportation. Some of their recommendations are:
- Initial investment in hydrogen refueling stations should support station “clusters” within urban regions so consumers can easily refuel vehicles with little additional convenience cost compared to gasoline.
- Government policies should include both vehicle markets and refueling infrastructure. This will help in market penetration at the least cost.
- Home refueling of hydrogen vehicles should be given due importance. It will create an atmosphere of trust among end users and encourage market development.