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Using Geographic Information Systems to Evaluate Siting and Networks of Hydrogen Stations

UCD-ITS-RP-04-42

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Suggested Citation:
Nicholas, Michael A., Susan L. Handy, Daniel Sperling (2004) Using Geographic Information Systems to Evaluate Siting and Networks of Hydrogen Stations. Transportation Research Record (1880), 126 - 134

The lack of hydrogen fuel stations is a major barrier to the introduction of hydrogen vehicles. Given the high cost of constructing hydrogen stations, it is desirable to build as few stations as possible while still adequately serving consumers. Although several studies have addressed the general question of how many stations are needed, the literature has been largely silent on how to relate the location of stations to the sufficient number of hydrogen stations. A geographic information system (GIS) provides a tool for evaluating station siting decisions as part of a greater hydrogen network. A GIS model was developed for siting generic hydrogen stations in Sacramento County, California, with the economics of supplying those stations with hydrogen ignored for now. The analysis used average one-way driving time from home or work to a station as a metric to evaluate scenarios. When a network is posited with 30% as many retail fuel stations as now exist, average driving time from home to a station would be 16 s more than it is with the full existing network of stations. With 5% of existing stations supplying hydrogen (or any other alternative fuel), the average driving time to a station could be as little as 4 min in Sacramento County. These estimates assume free-flow traffic; actual times will vary. This modeling approach provides an analytical framework for siting early hydrogen fuel stations. Initial results suggest a few strategically sited stations could be sufficient to satisfy a large number of prospective consumers.