Fuel cell and hydrogen-related companies have received considerably more interest and investment since they were mentioned in President Bush’s last State of the Union speech before Congress where he announced over a billion dollars of funding towards the pursuit of a hydrogen energy future. While a hydrogen economy is still a ways away, the foundations are being constructed by the current innovators in the field. Many new approaches and technologies have surfaced – and most will be presented at the industry’s major annual conference coming up this April.Washington, D.C., January 20, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The National Hydrogen Association (NHA) unveiled the emerging highlights for their 15th annual conference, April 26 through 30 at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel in Los Angeles, California. The event, Hydrogen: A Clean Energy Choice will feature both U.S. and international content and an exhibition of technology and products from around the world. Interest in hydrogen continues to grow as evidenced by the doubling of requests to speak at the conference. Each day will begin with a high-level plenary session that will include federal and state legislators as well as senior business leaders from automotive, energy and fuel cell businesses. Keynote speakers to date include Jan van Dokkum, President, UTC Power; Alan Lloyd, Chairman, California Air Resources Board; and James Sweeny, National Academy of Sciences. Invited speakers include U.S. Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham; Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-36-CA). Energy choice and security will be only two of the many topics covered throughout the conference. Parallel sessions will focus on important issues including production and storage methods, safety, utilization, distribution, economics, education and outreach and policy initiatives. This year, the conference will also include special sessions for advanced materials, military hydrogen programs, hydrogen strategies for utilities and renewable energy. New events this year will add to the attendee experience including the award presentations for the First Annual University Student Hydrogen Design Contest and the first Hydrogen Infrastructure Analysis Symposium. The Design Contest is designed to stimulate student academic achievements in hydrogen related fields. At least five teams will present their designs for a hydrogen fueling station that could conceivably open in March 2006. The grand prize winning team will get an expense paid trip to present their winning design during a plenary session of the conference. The contest is presented by ChevronTexaco, the U.S. Department of Energy, and NHA. In addition, support from “Hydrogen Mentors” is expected to allow 100 university students to attend the conference for free. The Hydrogen Infrastructure Analysis Symposium will provide a forum to present and discuss hydrogen pathway analysis with emphasis on economics, energy efficiency and emissions as well as analysis of the infrastructure transition to a hydrogen economy. It will include work supported by the DOE’s Office of Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, and Infrastructure Technologies. Hydrogen Expo USA will be three times the size of 2003 and is already 50% sold. “We are seeing increased participation from European and Japanese companies that will enhance dialog and information flow and give attendees further insight into non-U.S. markets and technologies, “said Ines Freesen of Hydrogen Expo USA. The thirty exhibitors to date include Air Products and Chemicals, BMW, ChevronTexaco, Hera Hydrogen Systems, Japan Steel Works, Linde, and Stuart Energy Systems. Additionally major car manufacturers will bring fuel cell powered vehicles for ride-and-drives. Also new this year is the National Hydrogen Financing Forum (NHF2), an event preceding the conference, jointly sponsored by the NHA and the Center for Economic and Environmental Policy, Inc. The NHF2 is a specialized, invitation only forum for emerging hydrogen related companies, investors and strategic partners. Applying companies will be competitively selected to present their business plans to an audience of individual, institutional and corporate investors and strategic partners. More information is available on the NHF2’s website listed among the links below. For further information on conference activities and registration see either of the first two links below.