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Redirect Subsidies for Oil Companies to Build Hydrogen Fueling Stations

Over the years, I’ve talked many times about the cost of building a nationwide hydrogen fueling infrastructure. The critics often throw out a high ball figure of $500 billion in order to replicate the current amount of gasoline dispensing stations nationwide. This is an errant figure meant to scare people about even thinking about putting up a nationwide hydrogen fueling station infrastructure.

Those who are more hydrogen-friendly use estimates that are in the $4 billion to $24 billion range. Now, why is this important? Currently, President Obama is trying to cut $4 billion per year in subsidies to the Big Oil companies. Now, in the 4th quarter of 2010 Exxon’s profit was a cool $9.25 billion. And, this was for one quarter and this was only one oil company. Now, BP with Gulf Oil Spill to pay off came in with its own fourth quarter profits of over $4 billion.

Does Big Oil really need our money? In April 2008, I had talked about how the Rocky Mountain Institute had estimated a nationwide rollout of hydrogen fueling stations would cost around $4.1 billion. At the same time I also quoted Larry Burns of General Motors saying, ““A network of 12,000 hydrogen stations in the United States would put 70 percent of the U.S. population within two miles of a fueling station. If the stations cost $2 million each (estimates for the cost of a station range from $1 million to $4 million) the network would cost about $24 billion.”

In April 2010, I had talked about a company called Lumber Liquidators taking it upon themselves to put up an East Coast Hydrogen Highway system consisting of 11 fueling stations at the cost of $15 million to $20 million or less than $2 million per station.

Now, let’s say that Mr. Burns figure of $24 billion is close to correct in regard to building hydrogen fueling stations nationwide. If we were to cut and redirect the Big Oil subsidies of $4 billion per year for the next 6 years to building hydrogen fueling stations, we would be in business.

Hydrogen car manufacturers would start rolling out H2 vehicles because the fueling stations are either in place or being built. And because hydrogen cars are being built, this would encourage those seeking some of the $4 billion in subsidies to build more hydrogen fueling stations.

For the critics who have squawked for the past 10 or more years that building hydrogen fueling stations would be too expensive, is it not too expensive to keep giving $4 billion a year in subsidies to the fat cat Oil Companies? What have they done with these subsidies – keep our fuel prices low and affordable?

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen car blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen cars, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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5 comments

  1. Even if it were the exagerated 500 bil. it is still not as much as the 700 bil.tarp money that I was not aware that the public had any choice in.

  2. admin

    You’re right of course. Somehow, though I find it more satisfying taking money directly from Big Oil to fund the eventual replacement for Big Oil.

  3. Michael C. Robinson

    The Obama budget, if there is one, seems to be too big. For someone who should have cut funding to big oil, I’m surprised that he hasn’t. I continue to be surprised that Obama can’t get on board with hydrogen. How he expects the nation to move forward with battery electric and hybrid cars alone, I am not certain. Some of the techniques for acquiring hydrogen are the only green way I think there is to address the energy problem. I hand built what should be a 200 watt solar panel, it doesn’t work very often. Now if I had an artifical leaf that can split water, that might make more sense. There is a push for batteries, wind mills, solar panels, and bio fuels. I’m not that impressed with any of these options. Cost is still too high where hydrogen, advanced materials, and fuel cells are probably the ultimate way to go. If we are synthesizing fuel, why make hydrocarbons? I don’t see biofuels as being clean, not even ethanol which has become very popular. I am sorry to hear that Oil is still sought politically for fuel when a change should be made and the emphasis shifted to hydrogen. Granted, gasoline and diesel need to be around for at least the next 10 years as hydrogen is phased in. I don’t see a need to make large investments in Oil at this point. If Oil companies are making a profit, they shouldn’t be receiving subsidies in the first place.

  4. How do you plan on creating this hydrogen? Last I checked electrolysis efficiency is less than 30%. Fuel Cells are still less than 40% turning that hydrogen into electricity. So we are looking at a cycle efficiency of 10-15%, while batteries manage 90% and we already have the pipelines to distribute it.

  5. admin

    Brute force electrolysis of water may be less than 30-percent efficient and that is why other forms are constantly being developed. Just look in the blog category “hydrogen production” and you’ll see what I’m referring to. Also, most fuel cells for cars are 60 to 80-percent efficient, so you may need recalculate your numbers.

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