U.S. to Slash Funding for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

U.S. to Slash Funding for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has said the Energy Department plans to shift funding away from hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in favor of alternative fuel programs that will be quicker to develop and roll out nationwide.

The department aims to slash more than $100 million (a 60 percent cut) from its hydrogen program, mostly removing funding for vehicle programs it says won't be practical over the next 10-20 years.

The main barriers hydrogen fuel cell vehicles face are the lack of a nationwide fueling infrastructure, fuel cell development and hydrogen transportation.

A 2008 report from the National Research Council estimated it would take $200 million from government and industry over the next 15 years to commercialize hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to the point they could be competitive with gas vehicles.

Hydrogen fuel cells are also losing the popularity contest as carmakers increase their focus on all-electric or hybrid vehicles. Plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles face a similar challenge in the lack of infrastructure, although expanding and adding plug-in charging stations is seen as more achievable than creating a hydrogen fuel cell system.

The Energy Department will continue to fund work with stationary fuel cells, which are used to provide supplemental power to electric grids or buildings.

Fuel cell vehicle - CC license by Mike Babcock