Toyota Plans Hydrogen Fuel Cell Plant at Long Beach

Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg News

Toyota Motor Corp. is building the first megawatt-scale carbonate fuel-cell power plant and hydrogen fueling station to support its operations at the Port of Long Beach, Calif. The facility will use biowaste from California’s farms to generate water, electricity and hydrogen.

The Tri-Gen power plant will generate 2.35 megawatts of electricity and 1.2 tons of hydrogen a day, making it capable of powering 2,350 homes and providing enough fuel for a day’s worth of driving for 1,500 fuel-cell cars. Scheduled to go live in 2020, the plant will become Toyota’s first facility in North America to use 100% renewable power.

The plant is designed to supply all Toyota fuel-cell vehicles moving through the port, including the Mirai sedan and the hydrogen fuel-cell powered Class 8 truck known as Project Portal. Toyota has put 4,000 testing miles on the Portal, and it is capable of hauling 80,000 pounds of freight.

The Tri-Gen plant will be installed and operated by FuelCell Energy, a global developer of megawatt-scale fuel-cell systems serving utilities, industrial and large municipal power users. FuelCell Energy’s system co-produces hydrogen and clean power from methane-based fuels such as renewable biogas.

The fueling station, built with Air Liquide, will be part of refueling operations at the port, and join 31 other retail hydrogen stations in California.

Fuel cells use a chemical reaction to convert a fuel source to electricity and heat. Fuel cells compete with batteries used to power electric cars, but do not need to be recharged. They have no moving parts, which contributes to relatively silent operation.

Hydrogen can be extracted from natural gas, petroleum products, coal and such renewables as solar, wind and biomass. More than 90% of the hydrogen produced in the United States is made from natural gas, according to the Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association.