DOE Releases Long-Term Hydrogen Plan

The Department of Energy (DOE) released its “Hydrogen Posture Plan,” a document which outlines the activities, milestones and deliverables that DOE plans to pursue to support America’s shift to a hydrogen-based transportation energy system. This plan identifies milestones for technology development over the next decade, leading up to a commercialization decision by industry in 2015.

Washington D.C. – March 19, 2004 [] “This plan supports President Bush’s vision of a hydrogen economy and includes timelines that provide clear and scientific measures to track and demonstrate progress,” Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said. “If we achieve our technical objectives, the automotive and energy industries will be in a position to begin to mass market availability of both vehicles and refueling infrastructure by 2020. The Bush Administration’s fiscal year 2005 budget request includes US$227 million for research to support the President’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. The federal government will play a key role in accelerating the transition towards the hydrogen economy by pursuing research to overcome technical challenges. The Posture Plan integrates research, development and demonstration activities from the DOE renewable, nuclear, fossil and science offices. An integrated hydrogen program will improve the effectiveness and accountability of DOE’s research activities and increase the probability of success in achieving technical milestones on the road to a hydrogen economy. DOE has also coordinated its work on codes and standards with the Department of Transportation and other agencies. The plan also points out that the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier can enhance energy security while reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Note: Hydrogen has proven issue a contentious and complicated issue among the energy industries. The previous point that hydrogen use “as an energy carrier can enhance energy security while reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” may prove only partially true if the DOE continues on its predominantly fossil fuel-based path for hydrogen production. Prominent organizations in the renewable energy industry contend that far more DOE funding has gone into research on hydrogen production from so called “clean coal” technologies, natural gas, and even nuclear – which would not necessarily reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions – while funding has been diverted from renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, geothermal, and others. A recent report by the National Research Council of the National Academies states, “a transition to hydrogen as a major fuel in the next 50 years could fundamentally transform the U.S. energy system, creating opportunities to increase energy security through the use of a variety of domestic energy sources for hydrogen production while reducing environmental impacts, including atmospheric CO2 emissions and criteria pollutants.” The Hydrogen Posture Plan addresses the Academies’ recommendation that the DOE more fully coordinate its hydrogen activities within the department. The long-term hydrogen initiative is complemented by other DOE programs on near-term energy efficiency and renewable energy, such as FreedomCAR, which provides $90 million annually for research into hybrid components and other advanced vehicle technology. In his State of the Union address in 2003, President Bush announced a $1.2 billion hydrogen fuel initiative to reverse America’s growing dependence on foreign oil by developing the technology for commercially viable hydrogen-powered fuel cells to power cars, trucks, homes and businesses with no pollution or greenhouse gases. The hydrogen fuel initiative will include $720 million in new funding over the next five years to develop the technologies and infrastructure to produce, store, and distribute hydrogen for use in fuel cell vehicles and electricity generation. Combined with the FreedomCAR (Cooperative Automotive Research) initiative, President Bush is proposing a total of $1.7 billion over the next five years to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cells, hydrogen infrastructure and advanced automotive technologies.
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