EETV conducted an OnPoint interview with Robert Rose, Executive Director of the US Fuel Cell Council (USFCC) concerning Congress reinstating the budget cuts to hydrogen autos and fuel cell research from the Department of Energy (DOE) budget earlier this year.
Mr. Rose comments on Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s assertion that hydrogen autos are not a near term solution for reducing emissions and gaining energy independence. According to Rose, “…I think all of the advanced technologies are in the same boat and that would include fuel cells and hydrogen. I think what’s perhaps missing from the analysis at the DOE is that you can’t get to our national energy goals and our national climate change goals without fuel cells and hydrogen. This is a zero emission fuel. There can be a zero emission fuel. It doesn’t rely on either electricity exclusively or other fuels exclusively. It’s a very flexible fuel and the autos are very attractive and fun to drive.”
When asked if the change in political leadership from former President Bush, who was pro hydrogen to President Barack Obama was one of the deciding factors in going away from hydrogen. Rose responded, “I hope this is not a decision based on the change in political leadership. The hydrogen program has always been a bipartisan program and we’ve always had very strong support from Democrats as well as Republicans, not least of them Senator Byron Dorgan who’s of the leaders in the Senate, Congressman John Larson who’s one of the leaders in the house. So this is a program really that focuses on the place for fuel cells in the national energy strategy.”
Farther into the interview Mr. Rose raises a point I rarely hear discussed, “Germany has a plan to put a thousand hydrogen stations in place by 2020 I think it is. And that suggests to me that that’s a bit of competition here. Daimler already has a production line in Germany that runs these autos out in small numbers now, but they have plans for 100,000 vehicles a year. So it’s not a question of whether this will happen I think so much as it is a question of where it will happen and when it will happen and whether we’re going to have to buy our fuel cell vehicles from somebody else or make them here in United States.”
Mr. Rose is correct, that there is a race in regard to putting hydrogen autos on the road. Earlier this year Norway opened up its Hynor hydrogen highway system. In 2010, Canada will also open up a small highway system. Japan is working on their own version of the hydrogen highway and of course Germany and other European nations including Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Austria, Turkey, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom all have hydrogen fueling stations in place now.
These European nations continue to build more hydrogen fueling stations and autos at a rapid pace. Can the U. S. really afford to fall behind in building hydrogen autos and infrastructure?
Here is a link to the full of this interview and just below the video is a link to the full transcript.