Back in May 2009, I had talked about how the head of the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) Steven Chu wanted to zero out the budget for hydrogen car development. In the weeks and months to follow Congressional representatives restored this funding. And amidst slumping car sales all major automakers have said they will continue with their hydrogen car programs.
But, one has to wonder if the DOE is now really motivated to continue to fund hydrogen car development? Motivated or not, it looks like they are proceeding with the National Hydrogen Energy Roadmap developed in 2002 and the Hydrogen Posture Plan developed in 2006.
In fact, according to the DOE, they have decided to accelerate the timeframes outlined in these two plans, “The Energy Hydrogen Program is making progress towards the goal of a 2015 commercialization decision on hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles and the infrastructure to fuel them through an aggressive research program that accelerates the timeline for resolving technical and economic barriers. Energy’s Hydrogen Posture Plan, outlines the activities, milestones, and deliverables Energy plans to pursue to support America’s shift to a hydrogen-based transportation energy system.”
In August 2009, the DOE announced $2.3 billion in tax credits, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), for manufacturers of clean energy equipment (hydrogen included).
In September 2009 the DOE announced the H-Prize competition including a $1 million award for companies that develop a breakthrough in hydrogen storage methods. On October 30, 2009, the DOE put out a request for information for H-Prize participants regarding performance and cost of storage systems for near-term, early market fuel cell applications.
So, even though in May this year, the future of hydrogen cars was looking hazy at best, from a government perspective, it looks as if the DOE has bitten the bullet and proceeded down the path for early commercialization of H2 vehicles.