Several automakers have already decided that they want to release fuel cell vehicles as early as 2017 or so, and the Department of Energy’s [DOE] H2USA plan could expand the infrastructure.
There are already a few hydrogen fueling stations in the US, but only a couple dozen or so are available for public access. This is nowhere near enough to support a fleet of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Recognizing this, Sunita Satyapal, a fuel cell technology program manager at the DOE, said “there still are a lot of challenges. Infrastructure is critical, but the fact that a number of entities are coming together to work together through this partnership is a very positive sign.”
The partnership, called H2USA for the time being, is looking for support from automakers and other industry leaders to promote the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and their infrastructure.
This is a complete turn-around for the Obama Administration, which had originally called for $100 million in cuts for fuel cell research back in 2009. This change of heart, and the corresponding new DOE H2USA plan, is good news for automakers developing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, such as Toyota, BMW, Hyundai and others. Fuel cell prices and lifespan still need development, and infrastructure development is still far behind.
General Motors director of global energy systems and infrastructure commercialization Britta Gross says that hydrogen “is the only long-range, zero-emission, quick-fueling solution.” Getting the US DOE on board is one more step toward realizing widespread adoption of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.