Kelowna man says his attempt to help environment thwarted by lack of fuelling stations

'Go green' attempt stymied

A Kelowna driver says his attempts to help the environment and move away from gasoline-powered vehicles have left him with an expensive decoration in his parking stall.

Ivan Hansen tells Castanet he purchased a hydrogen-fuelled Toyota Mirai online in early June and had it shipped to Kelowna with a full tank of fuel.

“Wonderful. A bit of heaven. Not only quiet, but it's comfortable. And it's just over the size of a Camry,” said Hansen.

Hansen decided to go green about six years ago when he purchased a hybrid vehicle, he followed that purchase with an electric vehicle from Nissan which he liked, “but it just didn’t have the range I was looking for.”

After doing some research and seeing several stories about hydrogen fuel coming to Kelowna he went ahead and bought a used Toyota Mirai for approximately $30,000. The catch is, the only hydrogen fuelling station in Kelowna isn’t open yet.

“Our illustrious premier made the big statement that he was going to fast track it and he's going to get stations going all over the place. However, this one's been finished and sitting idle for weeks now. I feel they should make some effort to get station working,” says Hansen.

Castanet reached out to Vancouver-based Hydrogen Technology and Energy Corporation to inquire when the Kelowna fuelling station will be open for business.

“We can confirm that we will soon be opening our hydrogen refuelling station in Kelowna. We are nearing the finishing line with this station,” said Ambika Maitra, spokesperson for HTEC.

Hansen says he was told by HTEC representatives that there is no timetable as to when the fuelling station will open, “I want to drive my car. I rented for a couple of weeks, but that was too expensive.”

The provincial government announced a $10M investment in hydrogen fuelling stations in B.C. back in 2020.

“For British Columbia to reach its CleanBC targets, we must shift how we produce and consume energy,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. “Hydrogen will play a significant role in B.C.’s sustainable energy future, generating environmental and economic benefits across the province.”

Hansen took those statements to heart and now can't understand what the hold-up is.

“The new building looks like it's ready to go. I don't want to change (my car) just because they're too cheap to open up a station. They won't attract people with hydrogen vehicles to the area if they don't have a station.”

Maitra says they can understand the disappointment of Hansen.

"It is because we recognize the need to make hydrogen fuel readily available and easily accessible in the Okanagan, we have been working expeditiously to open the Kelowna station,” Maitra said, adding they hope to have it open by the end of the year.

"This station will allow for local residents as well as long-distance travellers to fuel up their hydrogen FCEVs in the Okanagan,” says Maitra.

For his part, Hansen says waiting seven months to drive a vehicle he bought to help the environment isn’t ideal. “I’m an old man I want to experience these things before I’m not here anymore.”

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