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14 US Senators urge Energy Secretary Chu to maintain funding for hydrogen and fuel cell programs

US Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called for the Department of Energy’s continued support and investment in fuel cell and hydrogen energy programs. In a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Brown, Graham and 12 other senators urged continued funding for these two programs.

The letter said that fuel cells and hydrogen energy systems must continue to play an important role in US energy diversification. However, with the enactment of the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11) Continuing Resolution, funding for DOE programs have been reduced by 5% for the remainder of the current fiscal year compared to the amount provided by Congress in FY10.

We are concerned...that further cuts to these two programs would inhibit the long-term diversification of our nation’s energy portfolio and stunt the development of American engineered and domestically-produced energy systems powered by hydrogen and fuel cells.

...we believe domestic manufacturers are on the verge of the full scale commercialization of fuel cell systems and hydrogen energy technologies in stationary, backup power and material handling equipment applications, thanks in part to the success of the Fuel Cell Technologies Program within the Office of Energy Efficient and Renewable Energy (EERE). In the case of mobile fuel cells, several auto manufacturers are planning for commercial fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) launches beginning in 2014-2015. This program is helping drive down the cost of fuel cell systems and hydrogen infrastructure, while familiarizing Americans with these new clean energy technologies.

—Letter to Secretary Chu

In addition to Brown and Graham, other Senators signing the letter were: Joe Lieberman (ID-CT); Ron Wyden (D-OR); Max Baucus (D-MT); Patty Muray (D-WA); Charles Scumer (D-NY); Jon Tester (D-MT); Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Richard Blumenthal (D-CT); Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Maria Cantwell (D-WA); and Robert Casey Jr. (D-PA).

Comments

SJC

They say that they want to close the $1400 billion deficit, but keep funding programs that are SO far away you might as well not bother.

You can double the money for something and that does not make it happen twice as fast. Most project managers know this and it is particularly true with development ahead of its time.

DaveD

And we all know what energy and economic geniuses Senators are, especially when they are pandering to one of their major contributors.

wintermane2000

Um its comming along alot faster then that and right now IS the time to be spending money on getting these types of things up and running.

Reel$$

I talked to a GM engineer in charge of their FC program. He said they're targeting 2015 for some kind of intro. But really, how can they make em cheap enough to compete with ICE and low cost EV? And where is the H2??

I'd rather buy a $30k EV PHEV and never go to a gas station again - for any kind of gas! I bet there are others just like me. Sorta...

SJC

2015 is the date for Mercedes having a fuel cell as cheap as a diesel engine. These guys have courage, I will give them that much.

Pbarkey

The DOE continuously states they are looking for near-term technologies, but they conveniently overlook the fact that many fuel cell applications are already commercialized and growing their markets. Major companies like Coca Cola, Walmart, Google, FedEx, Verizon, Whole Foods, and a host of others are already using and gaining a competitive advantage from fuel cells in the stationary, back-up, portable and materials handling arenas. Additional markets are launching or will launch in the very near future.

Most of our technologies are mature and either in market or close to entering. While R&D is always important, what’s really needed is the final push to help these mature technologies across the so called “valley of death” to full-scale commercialization at high volumes. This is a role the government has traditionally played in other clean energy technologies such as wind, solar and batteries as well as numerous advanced technologies over the decades that are now in the mainstream.

We are not asking for preferential treatment. We understand the austere times we are in. We are simply asking for parity with other clean energy options—and if cuts are needed, they should not be indiscriminate. If the DOE and Administration’s goal is for America to be a clean energy leader, then it makes no sense to pick winners and losers, turning their back on a viable clean energy option that is in the market now—one that enhances every other clean energy option they are touting. To be a true leader, fuel cells and hydrogen energy MUST be part of the overall clean energy strategy.

Pete Barkey
Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association

SJC

The problem is the Freedom Car cynicism. They put a so called solution that was decades away in front of the public and implied it was going to be a solution real soon now...that was 2001 it is now 2011. It is my belief that was intentionally done by a couple of oil guys in power at the time.

Arguably if that money and effort had been put into more real solutions over that decade, we could actually be less dependent on imported oil. That is my goal and I would like to see it be everyone's goal as well. Let's make some real world progress that can get us in a better position, not pretend and end up in a worse one.

wintermane2000

sjc.. even back in 2000 or so the h2 ind was targetting 2015-2020 as the timeframe to go on fuel cell cars. Some in cal and japan wanted it sooner and they got what tney wanted in a way. Fuel cell cars have been in the hands of normal people since 2002 or so.

SJC

With Freedom Car, it was all or nothing. You either bought into the idea or forget it. There was scarce funding for anything that would reduce oil consumption for 8 years and that was NOT an accident.

Reel$$

Pete's got a point. But FCs have been claimed to be here "real soon" for too long a time. And frankly Pete, since it is the oilcos that are pushing FC vehicles - they can use their own windfall profits to develop an H2 infrastructure. It's called reinvesting your profits.

SJC

Daimler may come up with a fuel cell that costs no more than a diesel engine in 5 years, that is their stated goal and I hope that they do that. That is just the beginning, unless you have a home fueling station like the Honda Clarity, then you have just created another problem.

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