The Department of Energy has deeply cut funding for hydrogen fuel cell development for vehicle applications. Several automakers, including Honda and GM, have been touting fuel cells as the premier clean power source of the future, but the DOE is unconvinced.
The reasons for the cut are simple: DOE analysts determined that the expense of the cells as well as the distribution structure of the hydrogen fuel was too high to justify continued research. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, in a briefing to discuss the changes, stated “We asked ourselves, ‘Is it likely in the next 10 or 15, 20 years that we will convert to a hydrogen car economy?’ The answer, we felt, was ‘no.'”The DOE will continue to fund fuel cells for other applications, just not for vehicle applications.
Our take? This is unfortunate but perhaps not unexpected – hydrogen fuel cells are an expensive proposition, requiring huge infrastructure expenditures. Translation – it will cost too much to switch over from gasoline to hydrogen. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? Let the pundits begin deliberating … now.