Valley Link purchases property for hydrogen production facility

Oct. 17, 2022
The rail project’s future hydrogen fuel production facility will support its operations, as well as other transit and heavy truck operators in the region.

The Tri-Valley – San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority took a step toward becoming the first California rail system to run on self-produced, green hydrogen, following the finalization of a purchase agreement with the city of Tracy for a parcel of land to build its hydrogen facility. The 200-acre property provides the critical land area needed to implement the green hydrogen production facility that will support the authority’s vision of sustainability for the Valley Link rail project, as well as support the clean energy goals of other transit and heavy truck operators in the region.

“Valley Link’s self-produced, green hydrogen will reduce the cost of the overall project operations for the public and offset state and federal transit subsidies,” said Veronica Vargas, chair of the authority’s Board of Directors. “The project’s vision also supports opportunities to create and sustain new living wage jobs in both the hydrogen fuel production and related renewable energy industries. This is good for both the economy and the environment.”

The 26-mile Valley Link Rail Project Phase 1 between the Dublin/Pleasanton Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station in Alameda County and the Mountain House station in San Joaquin County, will connect tens of thousands of Bay Area workers now commuting daily from their homes in communities in the Northern San Joaquin Valley – some of the state’s most disadvantaged communities located in one of the most polluted air basins in the United States.

To date, the state has invested in a number of hydrogen vehicle technologies and several transit agencies in California are producing their own hydrogen fuel. The sustainability vision of the Valley Link rail project seeks to significantly expand on this concept including the opportunity to manage risk and maximize the outcomes of green hydrogen production through public-private partnership with expertise from the hydrogen production industry.

Alameda County District 1 Supervisor, David Haubert stated, “The Valley Link hydrogen production business model is intended to serve as not only a catalyst for private investment, but also for a green energy economy within the Northern California megaregion combined with workforce development to create and sustain living wage jobs."

The authority’s board approved the Valley Link Hydrogen Production Feasibility study in September that will identify the sizing of the production facility to meet Valley Link’s initial operating segment fuel needs, the authority recognizes that there will be the opportunity to scale up a facility to ensure that both public and private investment in a green hydrogen hub can expand the availability, and reduce the cost, of green hydrogen to other users.

“Valley Link is well-positioned to be a model of sustainability capitalizing on innovative technology and recent public and private sector investments to operate on its self-generated renewable energy,” remarked Tim Sbranti, director of strategic initiatives for innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group.

Melissa Hernandez, vice-chair of the authority’s Board of Directors stated, “I thank the city of Tracy for their strong financial commitment from the San Joaquin side of the project. The dedication of this 200- acre property to Valley Link is a critical piece of the one third of Valley Link’s funding that has already been identified through local sources – a total of over $700 million – to support its competitiveness in leveraging additional state and federal funding.”

“The timing of the approval of the feasibility study and the purchase agreement for the 200 acres is significant to other initiatives to advance the use of green hydrogen in transportation and the overall green hydrogen economy in California,” said Executive Director/CEO Kevin Sheridan.

The passage of State Assembly Bill 209 now establishes a $100 million Hydrogen Program under the California Energy Commission to fund hydrogen demonstration projects. The Authority is also partnering with the Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES) Initiative to coordinate the development of the state application for federal funding under the $8 billion national US Department of Energy Regional Hydrogen Hub Program.

“The authority’s green hydrogen production facility is a bold vision to establish a megaregional green hydrogen hub integrating production and use by the transportation sector. The Authority looks forward to working with its public, private and community partners to advance this vision to meet the transportation, environmental, and economic needs of the Northern California megaregion now and into the future,” said Chair Vargas.