The number of fuel cell cars on California roads increased dramatically during 2016, and their numbers are expected to quadruple in 2017, according to a True Zero announcement.

In 2016, fuel from True Zero’s hydrogen-charging stations — which serve approximately 1,200 fuel-cell vehicles — powered more than 3.7 million zero emission fuel-cell-car miles in the state and eliminated more than 2.3 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.  

This was the greenhouse-gas equivalent of planting a forest nine times the size of Disneyland, said Joel Ewanick, the CEO of FirstElement Fuel, True Zero’s parent.

“We got into this business to make a positive impact on the world,” said Ewanick. “Our customers are making a difference with every mile they drive. It’s exciting to see such substantial benefits so early on, and we want to help tell that story.”

Sometime this year, as a way of showing car owners and others how driving hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles helps the environment, True Zero will be posting Analysis Labels at its hydrogen charging stations. These labels will show the entire lifecycle impacts of various vehicles based on the Argonne National Labs GREET model.

True Zero currently owns and operates 16 hydrogen-charging stations in California. It’s also in the process of building three additional hydrogen charging stations in the state in order to complete the first phase of its retail network. The company will begin building the second phase of its network this year, which will include larger facilities that can serve more customers per station.

“We’re already seeing far more growth than we expected during the first phase of our hydrogen network,” said Ewanick. “To keep up with demand and help automakers sell more fuel-cell cars, our future stations have to be larger and able to charge up multiple cars at the same time.”

To fully charge a fuel-cell vehicle with hydrogen takes less than five minutes, the company stated. Even still, True Zero stated that several of its stations are already beginning to experience lines and wait times during the busiest hours of the day.

According to True Zero, driving on True Zero hydrogen reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60% compared to a typical gas-powered car. Currently, True Zero sources about one third of its hydrogen from renewables, and that percentage is expected to grow.

Two of its charging stations provide hydrogen sourced from 100% renewable feedstock, which the company states, slashes greenhouse gas emissions by 93% compared to a typical gas-powered car. By 2023, the company hopes to source all of its hydrogen from 100% renewables.

In order to help accelerate and grow its California hydrogen network, True Zero has obtained financing from Toyota and Honda — which released the hydrogen powered Mirai and Clarity in late 2015 and 2016, respectively. The Clifornia Energy Commission, South Coast AQMD and Bay Area AQMD also provided grants to True Zero for the first phase of its hydrogen network.