Sacramento, Calif. — Secretary Chu’s decision to remove hydrogen R&D and hydrogen fuel cell vehicle demonstration programs from the Department of Energy’s 2010 budget request is a great disappointment and must be reconsidered.
“Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have progressed to the point where some automakers are ready to begin early commercialization,” said CaFCP’s executive director, Catherine Dunwoody. “Stopping federal investment at this point is like a coach pulling back an Olympic athlete who has trained for years, just as the trials begin. We can’t wait for the next round. We’re ready to go.”
Working together, scientists and engineers from industry, government and academia have consistently met or exceeded the DOE Hydrogen Program’s ambitious goals for energy efficiency, vehicle range, system durability, and reduced cost both in the lab and on the road. It’s surprising that a program that consistently meets its goals and shows tremendous progress would have its funding deferred.
Dunwoody continued, “We are on our way toward commercially viable zero-emission vehicles that will meet Americans’ needs for full function, long range vehicles using domestically produced fuel that cuts greenhouse gases by 50% or more.”
“I invite Secretary Chu and President Obama to drive one of the 300-plus hydrogen fuel cell vehicles automakers and transit agencies have already placed on the road. We can deliver passenger FCVs to their doorsteps in Washington DC, and they can fuel at the Shell hydrogen station nearby. Like the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have driven in these vehicles, their experience will convince them to participate in the final stretch of bringing these clean, fuel-efficient vehicles to market.”
In March of this year, the California Fuel Cell Partnership released a plan for the first phase of an early commercial market for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The “action plan” includes real numbers of fuel cell vehicles that the automakers are planning to place in California – 4,300 by 2014 and nearly 50,000 by 2017. It calls for a network of retail hydrogen stations to provide fuel for the first fuel cell vehicle customers. The State of California marked their continued support for hydrogen by committing $40 million toward these retail stations.