Feb. 5, 2002 — A boost for fuel cells and a future U.S. hydrogen economy came yesterday as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) unveiled its FY 2003 budget requests.

DOE wants $150.3 million for the Freedom CAR programme which focuses on fuel cells and other advanced clean vehicle technologies. DOE’s investment in the program is illustrated with a $23.1 million increase over funding for the program’s ill-fated predecessor, Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles.

The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) office requested $50 million for fuel cell activity for their Fuel Cell R&D Program. The program develops high-efficiency, low or zero-emission, cost-competitive vehicle fuel cell power system technologies that derive hydrogen from different fuels. The program integrates the efforts of the automotive industry, fuel cell and fuel processor developers, national laboratories, universities, and fuel suppliers in a customer-focused national program to develop more fuel-efficient, cleaner, and cost-effective vehicle fuel cell power systems that don’t compromise performance.

EERE’s Hydrogen Program supports the research, development and validation of hydrogen production, storage, and utilization technologies to foster the transition to a hydrogen economy. In FY 2003, EERE is requesting $39.9 million- $10.7 million more than last year’s $29.2 million.

The increase reflects the National Energy Policy’s focus on hydrogen research, specifically storage technologies, including hydride tanks, technology validation for wind/reversible fuel cells, multiple power park developments, the initiation of the Hydrogen Energy Development Initiative, and increased outreach to certify technicians.

EERE is also requesting $15 million for the Transportation Technology Assistance Program, which will partially fund the Freedom CAR program.

For fuel cells in buildings, DOE is requesting $7.5 million (up from $5.5 million) and DOE’s office of Fossil Energy is requesting $49.5 million for fuel cells as distributed power generation systems. Fossil Energy’s goal is to introduce by 2010 a new all-solid-state fuel cell module with a capital cost of $400 per kW for mainstream commercial power markets and as a flexible power source for mobile and military applications.

DOE’s Vision 21 concept defines goals of developing new types of fossil-fuelled energy plants in 2015 that have virtually no negative effects on the environment. In the 2010-15 timeframe, DOE seeks to develop fuel cell-turbine hybrid systems that achieve 70-80 percent efficiencies and near zero levels of pollutants. Activities in several program areas within the coal research budget support this goal and the total budget request for the Vision 21 program is $66.329 million.

Fuel Cells 2000 believes fuel cells are the way of the future and are glad to see DOE’s true commitment to fuel cells and a future hydrogen economy. The office of Nuclear Energy hit on the hydrogen economy as well, saying, the new proposed nuclear plants can produce high quality electricity by day and hydrogen by night.

For further DOE budget information, please go to: https://mbe.doe.gov/budget/03budget/index.htm

Fuel Cells 2000 is a non-profit, educational activity that seeks to promote the development, demonstration and commercialization of fuel cell technology.