US Fuel Cell Council Pushes Congress for $1.17B for Hydrogen, Fuel Cell and Infrastructure Programs
30 December 2008
The US Fuel Cell Council (USFCC), an industry association formed to foster the commercialization of fuel cells in the United State, is asking Congress to put $1.17 billion into fuel cells, hydrogen and infrastructure.
Fully funding programs of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) at levels Congress has already approved for FY2010, and use of other authorized funds, would account for the $1.17 billion. The US Fuel Cell Council would like to see the money applied in six basic areas: deployment programs; development of a refueling infrastructure; learning demonstrations; building domestic manufacturing capability; accelerating public-private research; and investing in fuel cell transit programs.
In addition, the USFCC also proposes two areas without specific dollars attached: Federal fuel cell investment tax incentives; and the inclusion of fuel cells in President-elect Obama’s proposed Energy Initiative.
USFCC’s breakdown of the proposed $1.17 billion in funding is as follows:
Deployment: $100 million. Dozens of power systems are currently available for commercial and defense applications. The USFCC suggests that Federal policies and federal funds should support public and private sector purchases and leases of fuel cells and infrastructure for stationary, portable and micro fuel cells. Including fuel cells in federal clean energy installation requirements also would accelerate commercialization. Authority: EPACT Sec. 783, FY2010: $100 million for purchases.
Refueling Infrastructure: $65 million. Federal grants and tax credits for hydrogen and other fuel cell fueling infrastructure would accelerate activity in existing markets like industrial equipment, and prepare communities for the arrival of fuel cell passenger vehicles, the USFCC says. Federal policy should support hydrogen infrastructure deployment via an investment tax credit and by cost sharing for fueling stations, and fully fund the current vehicle Learning Demonstration. Authority: EPACT 2005, Sec. 782, FY2010: $65 million for vehicles and infrastructure.
Learning Demonstrations: $375 Million. Learning demonstrations put early commercial and advanced experimental systems in the hands of government and private sector users who help evaluate the systems. Federal law already authorizes demonstrations and deployment in civilian and military applications. Authority: EPACT Sec. 808, FY2010: $375 million.
Domestic Manufacturing Capacity: $100 Million. Especially given the current credit crisis, fuel cell companies and suppliers are finding it difficult to obtain money from banks and investors to invest in manufacturing capacity. The USFCC is calling for Federal grants and tax credits for investment in manufacturing infrastructure. Authority: EPACT Sec. 805, FY 2010:$100 million; EISA 2007 Sections 136; also IRC Sec. 4.
Research Partnerships: $350 Million. Basic research is needed in advanced materials, catalysis and other relevant fields. Applied research should focus on improved performance and reduced costs, and on improved availability, storage and utility of hydrogen and other fuels for fuel cells. Authority: EPACT Sec. 805, FY2010: $350 million for research.
Fuel Cell Transit: $180 Million. Transit provisions in the stimulus should include the purchase of at least 100 zero emission fuel cell buses and funds for relevant infrastructure investment. Authority: SAFETEA-LU Bus and Bus Facilities Program.
A July 2008 study by the National Research Council estimated that a total public-private investment of about $200 billion would be required from 2008 to 2023 to support a transition from gasoline to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, at which point fuel cell vehicles would become competitive with gasoline-powered vehicles. (Earlier post.)
The government cost to support the transition would be roughly $55 billion, according to the study. This funding includes a substantial research and development program ($5 billion), support for the demonstration and deployment of the vehicles while they are more expensive than conventional vehicles ($40 billion), and support for the production of hydrogen ($10 billion).
Private industry would be investing far more, the authors concluded: about $145 billion for R&D, vehicle manufacturing, and hydrogen infrastructure over the same period.
The National Research Council (NRC) functions under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The four organizations are collectively referred to as the National Academies.
This sounds good to me.
BUT with one big change.
Let's let the "government cost to support the transition ... $55 billion .. "
come AFTER the
"Private industry would be investing far more, ... about $145 billion".
I don't know how much the government invested in grain ethanol but I suspect it was reasonably matched by industrial dollars. It might have been a mistake but it was done incrementally, was not a dead end, not too costly and payed dividends along the way. Grain ethanol significantly reduced emissions and oil imports (and continues to) and it provided technology for cellulosic ethanol.
An H2 economy seems like an incredibly risky and expensive path that will pay no dividends unless almost completely successful.
Posted by: ToppaTom | 30 December 2008 at 07:39 AM
Though hydrogen is likely a good 'complete system' answer - the devil is in the details and the transition. Piggy-backing on upcoming plug-in and allowing/promoting home fueling stations will promote use and spread. I just can't see hydrogen fuel stations on the corner being as prevalent or as desirable as the gas station 'system'. Deep down, i believe people want to control their energy sources, but decentralization is a dirty word to the Energy companies. Empower people by providing fuel at home and provide ultra-long 'extender' support to plug-in vehicles and you have a solution that is actually solving a problem.
Posted by: Jer | 30 December 2008 at 08:16 AM
The devil is in the fact that there's no economical source of hydrogen and no way to store it.
Within 2 yrs EV's will be on the scene and providing a solution. Barring some miraculous discoveries, hydrogen is decades away.
Posted by: danm | 30 December 2008 at 12:00 PM
The key technologies for hydrogen cars are:
1. Efficient and cheap fuel cells
2. Safe and efficient (lossless) hydrogen storage
3. Efficient production of hydrogen.
These technologies can be developed without the cars and refueling stations. Then why waste money on cars and fuel stations? It's obvious why they want those, and the $ 370 million for 'Learning Demonstrations'. It's for brainwashing the public into believing this 'hydrogen economy' is actually more than a scam. They need real hydrogen cars and hydrogen buses and hydrogen pumps to keep the fantasy alive.
Where is the hydrogen car? The powerplant-to-wheel efficiency is still way behind bev's. They are more expensive than bev's. They are less practical than bev's. They need a new hydrogen infrastructure, bev's can be charged everywhere TODAY. The bev is better on all fronts. Stop beating a dead horse.
The 'hydrogen economy' is invented by a generation that is stuck in the previous century. You charge your cell phone and fill up your car. They will never change that view.
Posted by: Arne | 30 December 2008 at 01:13 PM
Totally agree with Anne. Hydrogen Economy has no past, no present and no future. The road to sustainability leads to an Electron Economy. Physics is eternal and cannot be changed by man that hydrogen can never compete with its own energy source.
Posted by: hc | 30 December 2008 at 01:52 PM
It's interesting how many of us who read and post here have come to agree about Hydrogen and fuel cells.
With few exceptions we view this as, "pie-in-the-sky".
I made up my mind years ago that future transportation fuels should be focused on various forms of bio-diesel.
There are several good reasons for this: 1) Use existing distribution infrastructure. 2) Wide range of methods/types of energy conversion devices can be served, truck, automobile, bus, airplane and etc. 3) Can be combined with EV's to increase range and acceleration power. (Hybrids)
Most bio-fuels are really a form of solar energy. I have arrived at the conclusion (Several years ago) that a lot of our time, energy and money should be spent on developing algal bio-diesel. Production facilities can be sited almost anywhere, reducing the need for expensive transportation. Very large users, such as trucking and aviation can locate in wastelands, like the Salton Sea and other undeveloped areas.
Posted by: Lucas | 30 December 2008 at 02:51 PM
First off fuel cells arnt actauly all that spendy to make if mass produced. Even a few years back they COULD have made car fuel cells for under 10k each if they needed to.. but they didnt need to.
By 2010 they are on track for a 3k car fuel cell stack IF they need to mass produce them.. but they wont.
On the fuel tank. They have had good storage tech for h2 for quite some time its just a bit bulkier then they want it to be and a bit less non splody. They can already store enough h2 in one 5k psi tank and they have options available for storing 4kg of h2 in a non pressurized tank.. tho at an increased weight over what they WANT. But still nothing compared to the weight of a 50 kwh lith pack or the bulk either.
On the h2 itself. H2 is already widely used and in many places its cheaper then gas. By 2020 unless something realy odd happens it will be cheaper then gas almost everywhere.
But of main importance is no matter what no one car type will take over any time soon. So they all will fill thier segments. If you follow the money tho you can tell wich segments the car makers feel will be most profitable.
Posted by: wintermane2000 | 30 December 2008 at 03:24 PM
If there was a cheap way to produce hydrogen, it would be more useful if this hydrogen would be synthesized using captured CO2 to produce a hydrocarbon fuel on site, which has a much higher energy density per volume than hydrogen. Hydrocarbons are also much easier to transport and can take advantage of the infrastructure already in place.
In addition, at least as far as area needed and energy input needed, synthesizing hydrocarbon fuel from hydrogen (e.g. excess wind power) and captured CO2 (from the surrounding air) is still significantly more efficient than any plant (algae included).
For certain applications, hydrocarbons are still very useful. For instance, to power aircrafts and big rigs there's not a serious alternative to hydrocarbon fuels (BEVs and hydrogen fuel cells included).
Posted by: globi | 30 December 2008 at 04:00 PM
The hydrogen car with fuel cells was the excuse to eliminate the EV1 electric car.
The GM engineers that developed the EV1 did a very good job. They developed an electric car that resulted to be
Therefore, the EV1's were destroyed!!
Then they said that the EV1 was not good enough because of the miles it could travel with a battery charge, so that they would develop the "hydrogen car".
The distance provided by a charge in the EV1 was good enough for city driving for more than 95% of the californians.
And all the people who had an EV1, loved it!!
I think that once we are in the Post-Peak Oil era, there will be room for cars as efficient as: the Audi A2, 1.2 diesel, the Volkswagen Lupo 3L, the VW Up!, the VW 1-litre, and some others.
The Post-Peak Oil era may cause too much damage to the world economy, therefore it will be more evident that the hydrogen car (with fuel cells) is wishful thinking.
Posted by: Jorge | 30 December 2008 at 04:24 PM
I'll sign up for an electric vehicle with a range of 200- 300 miles, re charge time 5 minutes and cost under 100 large. Until then hydrogen fuel cells look much more promising.
Posted by: Mannstein | 30 December 2008 at 07:49 PM
No what killed the ev1 was it was done. Its ONLY reason for existance was to test electric drives and how exactly normal/semi sorta normal people combine. Once they had that data it was DONE OVER FINISHED....
Fuel cells and battery cars react VERY differently. Furthermore both react very different from how ice engined cars react.
Once the ev1 was done giving them that data it was just a massive sinkhole of money via insurance just as with every other test car ever made. Now ya they prolly should have done something else to get out of the insurance issue and still keep the cars around but they didnt and that had nothing to do with h2 or oil or anything other then beancounters and the general cover thy arse mentality that runs rampant these days due to littigation armageddon.
Posted by: wintermane2000 | 30 December 2008 at 09:54 PM
During the 1st term of Bush presidency, the White House pushed Hydrogen and Fuel Cell, then ethanol in his 2nd term. What will the new administration promote?
Posted by: hc | 30 December 2008 at 10:41 PM
>>I'll sign up for an electric vehicle with a range of 200- 300 miles, re charge time 5 minutes and cost under 100 large.
The Tesla Roadster is alost there except for charging time but within a few years it should come close.
Posted by: Mark_BC | 30 December 2008 at 11:37 PM
If the new administration wanted to promote fuel efficient cars, they simply should reduce tax on work and increase tax on gas.
Posted by: globi | 31 December 2008 at 03:54 AM
As I mentioned before:
I find it quite practical that I can plug-in my cell phone at home and don't need to go all the way to a gas-station 'to fill my cell phone up' - even if filling it up would only take 5 minutes.
In addition, maybe Mannstein has a daily commute of over 300 miles per day, but most people do not.
Fortunately we live in a free world and future people who have a daily commute of over 300 miles are free to buy and drive an expensive fuel cell car while the rest can drive the cheaper BEV alternative to be conveniently charged at home.
Posted by: globi | 31 December 2008 at 04:35 AM
As far as vehicles are concerned we should be investing in Methanol and Dimethyl Ether programs. Fuel Cells may have applications for rural areas or for transportation systems that operate in space, out at sea, etc. and away from re-fueling stations.
Billions has been handed over to the auto industry to produce hydrogen fuel cell cars already with no results, now the U.S. auto industry is getting billions in bail-out money and still they balk that higher MPG ratings can not be achieved in the next ten years!
We need to build the infastructure for Methanol/DME refueling and REQUIRE that ALL passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. be Flex-Fuel or Hybrid Vehicles.
Posted by: RaneyOnline | 31 December 2008 at 07:02 AM
Yeah except that how democracy works (it's still new for some people) is you don't force your agenda on people. You present it for discussion and vote and if you've made it attractive enough it will be adopted.
Fuel prices, environment and energy independence from foreign oil is enough argument to adopt Flex Fuel and HEVs.
And look, if someone can make a FC vehicle and convenient method of fueling it - okay. The market will decide if it competes anyway near an EV.
Posted by: Reel$$ | 31 December 2008 at 08:23 AM
There is also some benefit to hydrogen, if it is mixed with CNG.
This does not only reduce the CO2-emissions of a CNG-vehicle, it also improves efficiency and emissions of an IC-engine in general.
And CNG vehicles already exist and mixing CNG with some hydrogen is a non-issue.
Posted by: globi | 31 December 2008 at 09:38 AM
globi: I am with you. Give me a vehicle that I can charge at home and travel 40 miles, and I am good to go. I already have a car that will go 300 miles, I don't need two such vehicles to commute.
Reel$$: Yes, let the market decide. Don't spend government money on hydrogen. Give $1.7B to low income people with cars over 10 years old to buy phev or ev. That will jump start the market and promote energy independence. $1.7B would buy 85000 $20k fuel efficient cars.
Posted by: JMartin | 31 December 2008 at 12:22 PM
I do not support hydrogen fuel cell vehicle technology. The real challenge is how to reduce the need for so much driving. Toward that end, vehicles that offer as little as 10 miles of battery-only operation is sufficient or even ideal, ie, the plug-in hybrid. Automobles present an impediment to convenient walking, safe bicycling and practical mass transit, all more energy efficient than any personal car. Hydrogen can be viewed as a fuel that allows our overwhelming amount of driving to continue, business as usual, the corporate corner fuel station retaining proprietary control over energy, economy and society.
Posted by: Sirkulat | 01 January 2009 at 03:02 PM
Let's see, if we can get $200 billion total investment with $55 billion in government money, we could buy perhaps 400 million kWh of new-tech Li-ion battery packs at $500/kWh (assuming production with a high level of automation, which would be justified by the product volume). At 2 kWH per hybrid, that would be 200 million vehicles; at 16 kWh per PHEV, that would be 25 million vehicles. Total US vehicle sales appear to be heading for ~10 million/year, so for that $200 billion we could produce a mix of 75% hybrids and 25% PHEVs (average 5.5 kWh/vehicle) for the next 7 years and a bit.
US light-duty vehicles run about half their lifetime mileage in their first 6 years, so the end of this period would see the shift in fuel consumption more than half complete. If the hybrids dropped fuel demand by 1/3 and the PHEVs dropped it by 70%, US gasoline consumption would drop roughly 34% with another roughly equal log-term drop over the remaining lifespan. That's a decrease from ~140 billion gallons/year to ~93 Ggpy, or a savings of approximately 3 million barrels of product per day. At 1.1 billion barrels/year and $60/barrel savings, the program would pay for itself every 3 years.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 02 January 2009 at 01:39 AM
Except someone has to be able to BUY all these new EVs. And we're apparently in the grip of the worst economic depression since the Mariana Trench formed. So though there may be battery financing - who can afford the payments?
Don't ya hate when a program bites it's own fabrication?
Posted by: Reel$$ | 02 January 2009 at 09:41 AM
Nice calculations, Engineer-poet. Plug-in hybrids seem the obvious direction technology should take for many reasons. It's likely that NiMh battery technology is more than adequate for many applications. Waiting for Lithium-ion battery tech to mature probably isn't necessary. NiMh additional weight can be a critical advantage for improved vehicle stability, especially on larger vehicles. If the battery-only driving range is limited to as little as 10 miles, the weight of the battery pack is manageable even with NiMh.
Posted by: Sirkulat | 02 January 2009 at 09:44 AM
All the usual pigs are lining up at the trough to feed off the ignorance of Carol Browner and company.
Fuel cells make no economic sense and won't until energy is so free that we can electrolyze H2O. Around 2030 or so.
Lots and lots of paper studies; lots and lots of economic pink elephant "demonstration projects" for the well connected politicians. Once the government money has been wasted, the projects disappear as if they never existed. No money for actually doing anything.
Better to give the money to the Big Three for building a few more fuel efficient cars. At least wasting it that way, will lead to some actual fuel economy in the real world, for the vehicles that they build with the money.
The Recession is almost over already. Democrats and their hired media are no longer calling it "the worst since ..." They have no reason to do so. Barry Odumma has waved his magic wand and things will improve, just believe!
It was caused by $4.50 a gallon gas; just like the last three oil episodes did. That and the incredible banking scandal initiated by connected Demo politicians who got themselves appointed in charge of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Lehmans Brothers. Specifically Fred Raines, Tim Johnson and Jamie Gorelik, by name. And protected by Chris Dudd and Barney (Fife) Frank.
At least they are all gone and for a half year or more. We are picking up the pieces, for some time now. While Dudd and Fife are still there, they are not anxious to run interference for another similar crew of Demo political appointees pretending to be Wall Street magnates, while buying protection with liberal amounts of handouts of campaign cash from their looting.
Posted by: Stan Peterson | 05 January 2009 at 02:41 PM
Heh it still only has to beat gas to become a big deal and thats not gona be hard to do stan.
Posted by: wintermane2000 | 05 January 2009 at 03:46 PM