Key Issues & Mandates
Toward a Hydrogen Economy - Market and Policy Drivers
Three major drivers support moving the United States toward a hydrogen economy:
- Energy security – Growing energy consumption is forcing increased reliance on foreign supplies
- Environmental quality – Concern over criteria pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions mandates that future energy supplies have to be environmentally clean
- International competitiveness – The U.S. must strive to maintain its competitive edge in energy technologies.
President Bush's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative responds to these drivers, addressing the need for hydrogen as a secure future energy source for the United States.
In his 2003 State of the Union Address, President Bush announced a $1.2 billion Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. Through partnerships with the private sector and academia, the President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative seeks to develop hydrogen, fuel cell, and infrastructure technologies needed to make hydrogen systems practical and cost-effective for transportation and power generation applications by 2020. The initiative also is a key component of the President's Clean Air and Global Climate Change strategies.
Acting on the President's initiative, DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is a Federal leader on the subject of hydrogen as a future energy carrier. In addition, DOE's Office of Fossil Energy addresses the production of hydrogen from fossil sources and the utilization of hydrogen using fuel cells to produce electric power. Research at DOE national laboratories, including NETL, focuses largely on the separation of pure hydrogen from gas streams produced via the gasification of coal and the reforming of natural gas with appropriate carbon sequestration. In addition, significant work is also conducted in the development of fuel cells to convert the hydrogen into electric power. These are essential components in the transition from a U.S. economy fueled by fossil resources to one fueled by hydrogen.
The Hydrogen Fuel Initiative calls for:
- Lowering the cost of hydrogen. Currently, hydrogen is three to four times as expensive to produce as gasoline (when produced from its most affordable source, natural gas). The President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative seeks to lower that cost enough to make hydrogen cost-competitive with gasoline by 2010, and to advance the methods of producing hydrogen from renewable resources, nuclear energy, and coal with carbon capture and sequestration.
- Creating effective hydrogen storage. Current hydrogen storage systems are inadequate for use in the wide range of vehicles that consumers demand. The President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative supports the exploratory research and development needed to overcome the challenge of hydrogen storage: to store the amount of hydrogen required for a conventional driving range (greater than 300 miles), within the vehicular constraints of weight, volume, efficiency, safety, and cost.
- Creating affordable hydrogen fuel cells. Currently, fuel cells are up to ten times more expensive than internal combustion engines for transportation applications. The President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative is working to reduce the cost to affordable levels.
The United States is part of a global community moving toward the increased use of hydrogen energy. Other countries making significant national investments include Japan, Germany, and Iceland.