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Fuel Cell Industry Challenges Congress

A coalition of 26 leading fuel cell companies spanning 17 states and a leading environmental organization presented the Bush Administration and Congress with a report last week answering the Congressional call for a national fuel cell and hydrogen strategy.

Washington, September 9, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] The report, titled “Fuel Cells and Hydrogen: The Path Forward,” presents a comprehensive strategy for federal investment in fuel cell technology and fuel infrastructure. In a press conference held on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., congressional leaders and the CEOs of six leading fuel cell technology companies discussed the report and the need for federal investment in fuel cell technology. Following the press conference, the CEOs boarded a fuel cell-powered bus operated by Georgetown University and traveled to meetings with senior White House and U.S. Department of Energy officials to discuss the need for a strong federal government role in accelerating the commercial introduction of fuel cell technologies in the United States. In the “Path Forward” report, the fuel cell industry coalition lays out a 10-year cost-shared program that will bring fuel cells and their economic, environmental and energy security benefits, to the American marketplace. The federal share of the program over 10 years would be US$5.5 billion, a commitment comparable to the current federal investment in conventional fuels and other advanced energy technologies. The report also offers specific recommendations in several program areas, including: research and development; demonstrations programs; federal purchases; investment in fuel infrastructure; market entry support; removal of barriers; and education and outreach. With members of the House and Senate in conference on future energy policy and heightened concerns about energy security, the ‘Path Forward’ report, is a timely contribution to energy policy deliberations. Fuel cell technologies hold the promise of an unparalleled combination of energy security, energy efficiency and environmental benefits that justify a much more intensive public investment than the current DOE annual fuel cell budget of US$150 million. Estimates of annual private sector investment in fuel cell technology range from US$1 billion to US$3 billion. The report was prepared by Robert Rose of the Breakthrough Technologies Institute (BTI) for an ad hoc coalition of fuel cell advocates from throughout North America.