Hydrogen Proposal Would Include Solar, Nuclear

Competing visions of a future hydrogen economy are increasingly addressing how the hydrogen is derived. A new US $3.9 billion program proposed by two U.S. Congressman would authorize the current Administration to embark on a plan to produce hydrogen from three energy feedstocks: solar, wind power, and the sure-to-be controversial, nuclear option.

Congressmen Albert R. Wynn (D-MD) and John Shimkus (R-IL) introduced the Hydrogen Liberty Act, which they say would put the hydrogen economy on a fast track by creating federally supported, collaborative demonstration projects between the private sector, major universities and laboratories. “With the price of gas over two dollars a gallon, coupled with diminishing domestic oil production, there is a strong need for the U.S. to wean off of its traditional, carbon fueled economy,” Wynn said. “Helping develop a hydrogen economy, fueled by renewable energy sources, will reduce oil consumption and increase energy security.” Nearly half the hydrogen produced in the world today is derived from natural gas via a steam reforming process, but natural gas alone will not be able to sustain a hydrogen economy, according to the lawmakers. They emphasized that the only way for a hydrogen economy to emerge is if America is able to harness renewable sources. In addition to solar and wind, the lawmakers include nuclear energy in their definition of clean, renewable sources, a point likely to stir up controversy and debate in the renewable energy and environmental community. Nuclear energy is clean in the sense that nuclear power plants do not emit any harmful pollutants, but the plants’ spent nuclear fuel remains a major unresolved issue. Nuclear issues aside, the proposal makes a point to derive hydrogen from solar energy. The bill authorizes $1.3 billion to advance hydrogen production from solar energy, subject to appropriation. The solar energy industry’s voice in D.C., the Solar Energy Industries Association (SIEA) said they would work to ensure that the funds do not come out of any existing solar energy programs. The Hydrogen Liberty Act authorizes the Department of Energy to have joint demonstration projects between the private and public sectors, as well as major universities and laboratories to develop hydrogen production from the three proposed feedstocks. The synergy created by bringing these parties together is expected to spur innovation and jumpstart the hydrogen economy. The Hydrogen Liberty Act would create 15 demonstration projects around the country, five demonstration projects each in the areas of nuclear, wind and solar energy. Major research universities, such as the University of Maryland, Southern Illinois University and the University of Illinois, would be eligible for funding under this program, and can work jointly with federal institutions like Argonne National Laboratory. The bill also encourages the participation of minority institutions such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities. “This legislation continues our efforts to make our nation less dependent on foreign oil,” said Shimkus. “When we can use our nation’s own resources to create clean, dependable energy like hydrogen, our nation’s power prices will become less susceptible to price swings brought on by foreign governments.”
Previous articleCall to Extend Tax Credit for Poultry Derived Biofuel
Next articleRenewable Fuels Standard Introduced in the House

No posts to display