The U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced their 105-page draft version of the “Department of Energy Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Plan.”
According to the DOE, “The U. S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s or the Department’s) hydrogen and fuel cell efforts are part of a broad portfolio of activities to build a competitive and sustainable clean energy economy to secure the nation’s energy future.”
The DOE goes onto say, “Advances made by the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program can be seen in the marketplace today. Commercial customers are choosing fuel cells for the benefits they offer, including increased efficiency and reliability; clean, quiet, low-maintenance operation; and reduced lifecycle costs. Growing sales and manufacturing volumes of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies for applications such as forklifts and backup power are beginning to lower costs, increase consumer confidence, and grow the domestic supplier base. Hydrogen and fuel cells are also being demonstrated in growing fleets of automobiles, transit buses, and supporting refueling infrastructure. These demonstrations show strong and steady improvements in performance and durability, confirming progress toward commercial viability in these important markets.
One of the most interesting parts of this document is the accelerated timeframes compared to government documents put out in the past. Here’s what the DOE has to say about bringing hydrogen fuel cells to market earlier rather than later:
1) Early markets such as stationary power (primary and backup), lift trucks, and portable power—in the 2010 to 2012 timeframe;
2) Mid-term markets such as residential CHP systems, auxiliary power units, fleets and buses—in the 2012 to 2015 timeframe; and
3) Long-term markets including mainstream transportation applications with a focus on light duty vehicles—in the 2015 to 2020 timeframe.
Notice that the 2050 that had been talked about a couple of years ago has now been moved up significantly. And for light duty vehicles, the DOE is using the 2015 time frame that the major automakers are now using for limited commercial rollout of hydrogen cars and vehicles.
The current Administration may not be totally onboard with hydrogen fuel cells and vehicles, and at least by this report it looks like they are willing to move along in accordance with the will of the marketplace. Here’s a link to the full DOE document.