Ten companies, agencies and universities are to co-operate with an initiative between The Gas Company (TGC), and General Motors to make hydrogen-powered vehicles and a fuelling infrastructure in Hawaii by 2015.

Known as the Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative, the project aims to integrate hydrogen in Hawaii, with a reduction by 90% of the state's dependence on imported oil.

The goal is for 20 to 25 hydrogen stations to be installed in strategic locations around the island.

"Hydrogen, used as a fuel, will reduce our dependence on petroleum starting today," said TGC president and CEO Jeff Kissel.

The plan builds on a May 2010 memorandum of understanding between TGC, one of Hawaii's major utilities and GM.

TGC today produces enough hydrogen to power up to 10,000 fuel cell vehicles and has the capacity to produce more. GM has fielded the world's largest fuel cell demonstration fleet - more than 100 vehicles - since 2007.

The hydrogen initiative partners are evaluating methods to distribute hydrogen through existing natural gas pipelines.

"In Hawaii, we want to address the proverbial chicken or egg dilemma," said GM Fuel Cell Activities executive director Chearles Freese. "There has always been a looming issue over how to ensure that the vehicles and the necessary hydrogen refuelling infrastructure are delivered to market at the same time. Our efforts in Hawaii will help us meet that challenge.

"Once the key hydrogen infrastructure elements are proven in Hawaii, other states can adopt similar approaches. "Germany, Japan and Korea are all building hydrogen infrastructures within this same timeframe. The work in Hawaii can provide a template for other regions."

In 2008, the state launched the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), a partnership with the US Department of Environment, with a goal of generating 70% or more of Hawaii's energy through energy efficiency and renewable resources such as solar, wind, wave, biofuels, and geothermal.

In addition to GM and TGC, the hydrogen initiative partners include the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT); US Department of Energy; FuelCell Energy; Aloha Petroleum Ltd; Louis Berger Group; US Pacific Command, supported by  Pacific Command, supported by the U.S. Pacific Fleet, US Pacific Air Forces, US Army Pacific and US Marine Forces, Pacific; National Renewable Energy Laboratory; the County of Hawaii; University of California - Irvine, and the University of Hawaii.