Columbia, South Carolina [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] The University of South Carolina (USC) challenged fuel cell industry leaders around the country to join a fuel cell initiative that would make Columbia a world leader in fuel cells and other alternative energy applications.The challenge, officially called the Greater Columbia Fuel Cell Challenge, was made at the National Hydrogen Association’s Annual Conference in Long Beach, Calif., and organized by USC, the City of Columbia, the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) and EngenuitySC to collaborate with private sector leaders from all areas of the fuel cell market for the unprecedented deployment of fuel cell and alternative energy technologies into multiple city, university and public applications in Columbia. With one of the nation’s top fuel cell research programs located at USC and several other alternative fuel cell projects around the state, the region is uniquely positioned to play a leadership role in the development of the next energy economy. USC provides the central role in Columbia’s industry leadership — including the country’s only National Science Foundation Center for Fuel Cells and the unique opportunity for 235,000 square feet of facilities within Innovista, USC’s research and innovation district, dedicated to the cultivation of the fuel cell and Future Fuel industry. With a 2005-2008 research, construction and faculty budget exceeding 100 million dollars aimed at commercially viable fuel cells and ten percent of new faculty hires in the field of fuel cell research, the University is committed to continuing its leadership role in Future Fuel development. The University also continues to build on established international partnerships with Germany’s Institut Solare Energiesysteme and the Korean Institute for Energy Research while simultaneously working to secure additional global relationships. USC Vice President for Research and Health Sciences, Dr. Harris Pastides, noted that the Challenge aligns the University’s leading research focus on fuel cells and Future Fuels with the City of Columbia’s commitment to becoming a pre-eminent location for the hydrogen and fuel cell economy. According to Bob Coble, the Mayor of the City of Columbia and co-chair of EngenuitySC, when combining the research of USC, the training of technology school students for fuel cell service and the support of the public and private sector, the City of Columbia is fully equipped to be a world-class, self-sufficient, full process home for fuel cell technology. SCRA Board Member, Larry Wilson said, “By partnering with industry from the full supply chain of the hydrogen and fuel cell economy, Columbia will become the model city for large-scale use and implementation of fuel cell and alternative energy applications.” Through the Challenge’s solicitation of ideas from companies and service providers, groundbreaking plans will be implemented to incorporate innovative fuel cell applications in a multi-year, multi-million dollar project.