Funds Available for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Trucks and Buses

The California Energy Commission (CEC) is accepting applications for the 2021 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Truck and Bus Technology Integration and Demonstration program with $4 million available to fund projects. The deadline to submit applications is October 15, 2021.

What is the purpose of this program?  The purpose of this solicitation is to fund research, development, and demonstration projects to improve the cost effectiveness and performance of hydrogen fuel cell-powered heavy-duty trucks and buses with challenging duty cycles.

Although there has been sustained investment to advance hydrogen fuel cell vehicle components and enabling technologies, there are limited demonstrations of production-intent hydrogen fuel cell trucks and buses and almost no commercially available vehicle models today. Production-intent refers to a “production-intent” prototype that is designed and engineered for the purpose of manufacturing and commercial production. This solicitation intends to fund research and demonstration activities to reduce costs, understand key design tradeoffs, inform end users of real-world operational characteristics, and accelerate the development of production-intent hydrogen fuel cell trucks and buses to achieve broader market adoption. 

Who is eligible to apply? This solicitation is open to all public and private entities. Demonstration projects in this solicitation must be located in the service territory of a California natural gas Investor Owned Utility (NG IOU), which includes Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, and Southern California Gas Company. All projects in this solicitation must benefit natural gas IOU ratepayers.

What projects are eligible? Projects funded through this solicitation must demonstrate an advanced, zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell-electric truck or bus that can meet challenging duty cycle requirements such as long routes, limited refueling opportunities, and high payload weight capacity needs. Projects must develop improved hydrogen fuel cell vehicle integration strategies or integrate pre-commercial component technologies (e.g., more durable and lower cost fuel cells, more efficient air management, lighter on-board storage tanks or tank configurations) to improve performance, fuel efficiency, durability, maintainability, and total cost of ownership. Projects must aim to advance the technology readiness level (TRL) of the improved hydrogen fuel cell vehicle integration strategy and/or pre-commercial component technology from TRL 4-5 to TRL 7-8. Projects must have a path to commercialization to ensure benefits beyond the initial vehicle demonstration.

Along with any other proposed targets (e.g., horsepower, torque, range, payload weight capacity, and refueling time) important for commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell trucks and buses, projects must aim to achieve the target performance metrics detailed in the Solicitation Manual.

Projects that maximize spending of CEC funds in California will receive points based on the percentage of CEC funds spent in California versus the total CEC funds requested. Additionally, preference points will be given to projects that maximize the spending of CEC funds on California Based Entities.

What are other project requirements? In addition, projects must address the following general requirements:

  • Develop a heavy-duty hydrogen fuel cell truck or bus design that can meet the equivalent operational performance of a traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicle including but not limited to horsepower, torque, range, payload weight capacity, refueling time, and durability. The hydrogen fuel cell truck or bus design must be able to effectively compete with a traditional ICE-powered vehicle as a one-to-one replacement.
  • Incorporate learnings from initial pre-production prototype demonstrations and component-level advancements to accelerate progress towards the introduction of commercially attractive heavy-duty hydrogen fuel cell trucks and buses.
  • Develop engineering advancements or innovative integration strategies to improve performance, efficiency, durability, and operating costs of the hydrogen fuel cell truck or bus over representative duty cycles in pursuit of the target metrics identified in the Program Solicitation Manual. Evaluate key design tradeoffs between various subsystems including the hydrogen fuel cells, onboard storage, thermal management, power electronics, batteries, controls, and others to optimally meet the performance needs of the vehicle application.
  • Demonstrate the vehicle using the improved hydrogen fuel cell powertrain with a California fleet in representative real world operation. Demonstrations must be designed to validate the vehicle’s ability to meet the specified challenging duty cycle requirements. Projects may include multiple demonstration sites and fleet partners, but at least one demonstration site must be located in a California NG IOU territory.
  • Analyze collected real world demonstration data to validate design improvements and calculate a projected total cost of ownership with a detailed breakdown of capital, operating, and maintenance costs associated with the vehicle. Compare the final vehicle cost and performance metrics with equivalent ICE and battery-electric vehicles. Projects must also compare final vehicle metrics with the current state of hydrogen fuel cell vehicle technology to document improvements.
  • Leverage real world demonstration data to identify opportunities for commercialization and continued technology advancement.
  • Conduct outreach and collaborate with community and industry partners to share the results of the demonstration and educate the public on project benefits.

Additionally, projects must provide a minimum of 12 months of data collection from the vehicle demonstration.

Are there any eligible infrastructure costs for this program? CEC funding under this solicitation can be used for temporary hydrogen refueling infrastructure or hydrogen fuel to support the proposed demonstration. This can include costs related to supplying hydrogen to the demonstration vehicle using existing hydrogen refueling stations or a mobile refueler.

CEC funding under this solicitation cannot be used for deploying permanent hydrogen refueling stations. Applicants are highly encouraged to leverage existing hydrogen refueling infrastructure, future accessible infrastructure in development, or other funding sources for infrastructure to support the demonstration.

To further infrastructure standardization efforts for heavy-duty vehicles, projects may not include use of proprietary refueling receptacles.

What are the funding levels for this program? There is up to $4,000,000 available for grants awarded under this solicitation. The minimum funding amount for each project is $1,500,000. The maximum funding amount is $2,000,000.

What is the match share requirement? Cash and in-kind match funding is required in the amount of at least 20 percent of the requested grant funds. However, preference points are awarded based on the percentage of proposed cash match funds relative to the total match. Additional preference points will also be awarded to applications that exceed the minimum match requirements based on the percentage amount above the minimum.

What is the anticipated award timeline? Applications are due on October 15, 2021 by 5pm PT with awards expected to be posted the week of December 1, 2021. The anticipated start date for this program is April 1, 2022 and projects must be completed by June 30, 2025.  

The Program Solicitation Manual can be found here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at or call us at 530-893-4764.


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