The Illinois Coalition was named the recipient of a US$54,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to develop Illinois’ first hydrogen fueling station powered by renewable sources. The project, powered in part by solar and wind energy, will be housed at Rockford’s Greater Northwest Chicagoland Regional Airport and represents the Foundation’s first investment in fuel cell technology. The hydrogen generated by the solar and wind array will provide stationary heat and power for an airport building and transportation fuel for zero emission airport vehicles.Chicago, Illinois – May 20, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] “The airport of the future will be clean, efficient and fuel independent,” said Rockford Airport Director Bob O’Brien. “I’m excited that we’ll be the first airport in the world to demonstrate that renewable solar and wind energies can be successfully integrated into the transportation sector.” Illinois 2 H2, the Illinois Coalition’s hydrogen and fuel cell technology partnership, released in March a plan to develop a corridor of hydrogen powered fueling stations and education centers located along I-90. The “Hydrogen Highway” is a long-range plan to move Illinois toward greater use of hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles and power-generation applications. The project will demonstrate broad-scale application of fuel-cell products for transportation, stationary, and portable power. Hydrogen fuel is expected to eventually replace gasoline as the world’s primary fuel source – a more efficient, clean burning, and plentiful source than oil. “The Rockford hydrogen fueling station is a critical step in building a hydrogen highway across Illinois,” said Chris Tynan of the Coalition’s Illinois 2 H2 partnership. “We have the industry, resources and skills to make Illinois a center of hydrogen fuel cell technology – a move that can stimulate jobs and fuel economic growth for decades to come.” The Rockford airport project is the second hydrogen fueling station to be proposed along I-90 since the Coalition report was released. The first, at the Gas Technology Institute’s suburban Des Plaines headquarters, should break ground in late 2004. “We commend the Coalition’s quick progress toward the Hydrogen Highway,” said Dan LeFevers of the Gas Technology Institute. “They are helping us put Illinois on the map as a leader in hydrogen technology.” The purpose of these projects is to accelerate the development of technology, increase knowledge, and engage local stakeholders. Two local organizations, Rock Valley College and Rock River Training Corporation, will work with local students and workers on the educational goals. “Rockford must think about where jobs are going to come from,” said Mike Williams, Rock River Training Corporation President. “The jobs of the future are in fast-growing industries including solar, hydrogen and wind power.” The grant was matched by over $100,000 in in-kind contributions from partner organizations including Illinois Institute of Technology, Aerotecture Inc, Rock Valley College, and global law firm Latham and Watkins. The investment covers a six to nine month planning and design phase of the project. The expectation is that the grant period will serve the dual purpose of creating a specific project at the airport while providing a template for future projects. After the grant is complete, construction and financing will be the next major hurdles, with construction expected to begin in early 2005. “We move fast,” O’Brien said.