It seems the consumer now day is sick and tired of high oil prices at the gas pumps and is looking for ways to ease their burden. One of the benefits for those who believe in an H2 future is the renewed interest in hydrogen as an alternative fuel.
According to the National Post, Canadian fuel cell maker Ballard has seen their shares skyrocket 22-percent yesterday. The reason for this is being attributed to President Bush’s pro-hydrogen speech at the California Fuel Cell Partnership on Saturday and the nation’s rebellion against high oil prices. Over the past 5 years, Ballard has seen its shares decrease by 90-percent from an all-time high of $172 in September 2000, to $4.30 in May 2005.
Today, President Bush has ordered the Energy and Justice Department to investigate possible price gauging and collusion among the big oil companies as gasoline prices keep going up, the oil companies are recording record profits and the ex-oil company executives like Lee Raymond are taking retirement packages of up to $400 million. President Bush has also ordered the U. S. Energy Department to halt temporarily deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to get more oil to consumers.
Hydrogen is not the only alternative fuel being looked at by consumers and investors. Since hydrogen is 5 years away and consumers need relief now, many are looking towards plug-in electric hybrids and ethanol (E85) as interim solutions. DaimlerChrysler is expanding their ethanol line-up of vehicles. Ford and General Motors are already building ethanol capable flex-fuel vehicles and are expected to expand their line-ups as well. In addition, a new $300 million, 220-million-gallon per year ethanol plant is being built in Nebraska.
The major issue with alternative fuels such as ethanol, like hydrogen is not with the vehicles themselves but rather with the ability to manufacture and distribute these alternative fuels on a massive scale. Consumers need to know that if they buy an alternative fuel vehicle that their fuel will be available at any fueling station they pull up to nationwide.
In a way, the whole ethanol solution will be good for hydrogen a few years from now. It’s been many years since we’ve had a massive rollout of a new fuel to the pumps. If ethanol is adopted as an immediate solution, then we can learn from the rollout process and apply many of the same methods when its time to rollout hydrogen on a massive scale. Getting the public used to this kind of change and breaking down resistance, will benefit us all in the long run.