Sometimes considered an outlier, hydrogen is a viable alternative to fossil fuels, especially for c-stores and fuel stations that serve truckers. With diesel-fueled truckers accustomed to refueling in minutes, not hours, interest in the faster clean energy of hydrogen is growing as the number of alternative fuels is expanding.

“Hydrogen is likely to be a winner, just based on refueling time,” Dover’s Negley said. “Especially for bigger trucks, hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells are more likely.”

He said the same for higher blends of ethanol fuels.

Hydrogen consists of only one proton and one electron. It can be used in fuel cells to generate power using a chemical reaction rather than combustion, producing only water and heat as byproducts.

The overall challenge to hydrogen production is cost. The cost to build a hydrogen station has been estimated at $1.5-5 million, according to the DOE. The DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office is focused on developing technologies that can produce hydrogen at $2 per kilogram by 2026 and $1 per kilogram by 2031 via net-zero-carbon pathways. There’s also the cost of the necessary infrastructure.

“You need to make sure as a business, you have that critical mass of vehicles to help you make a return on the investment. Even after a lot of the incentives are made, we don’t have that critical mass of vehicles to make the investment make sense,” Negley said.

As of mid-2022, the U.S. has only seen around 15,000 hydrogen cars on the road, compared to 2.5 million EVs. And they’re all in California, according to Hydrogen Central, an online platform and weekly newsletter based in Amsterdam.