U.S. Hydrogen, Fuel Cell Education Effort

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David K. Garman recently launched a DOE effort to introduce science students across the country to the promise of hydrogen and fuel cell technology at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. – October 30, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “Investing in our students today will insure the transformation of our energy future from one dependent on foreign petroleum to one that utilizes the most abundant element in the universe – hydrogen,” Assistant Secretary Garman said. “It is important that we begin to prepare and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers who will lead the transition to a hydrogen-based economy and build hydrogen fuel cell powered cars.” The DOE said that students of all ages will be introduced to the basic concepts and principles of hydrogen-based energy in fun and creative ways to interest them in the vision of a hydrogen economy. The challenges of making a hydrogen economy a reality are many, said the DOE, including the development of a hydrogen energy infrastructure like today’s petroleum infrastructure. Interestingly, that hydrogen infrastructure may just be a petroleum infrastructure. Both the DOE and the Bush Administration have faced recent criticism for allowing their hydrogen energy research and plans to rely predominantly on the fuels they say they are trying to move away from. Critics contend no real effort has been made to use renewable energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and others. Scientists and policy experts with the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) have been among the critics. In a recent statement from the organization, ASES Chair Michael H. Nicklas said, “Unfortunately the Energy Department’s (DOE) Hydrogen Energy Roadmap is driving America’s new hydrogen policy down the same old dead-end road. DOE’s Hydrogen Roadmap is dominated by fossil and nuclear power promoters; renewables have very little role in their vision of a hydrogen future.” Whether the DOE makes any serious effort to include renewable energy in future hydrogen plans, they do anticipate many careers of the future will include jobs in hydrogen manufacturing plants, working on distribution and storage networks and developing hydrogen fueling stations. DOE is working with its partners — automakers, energy companies and fuel cell technology companies — to accelerate the development and successful market introduction of hydrogen fuel cell technologies. Business and educational institutions are working on new research in advanced fuel cell technology for vehicles, buildings and other applications. The Bush Administration has proposed US$1.7 billion over five years in research funding for FreedomCAR and the Hydrogen fuel initiative. For more information on the FreedomCAR partnership and the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative visit the link below.

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