Department of Energy

Government Leadership in Development of Alternative Energy

We seem to have a chicken and egg problem that Government should take the lead on solving. I am talking about hydrogen fuel cell automobiles.


It seems that the only way to reduce green house gas emissions in a significant way is to go to electric vehicles. The problem is that the production of electricity can create green house gas emissions unless wind, solar, hydro or nuclear power is used. The plug-in electric vehicles being sold by US manufacturers are not going to satisfy the American consumer's need and desire to take their car on long trips all on electric power. The hydrogen fuel cell vehicles being made by Honda seem to have solved that problem with an advertised range of 220 miles before requiring a fill up of hydrogen. Honda seems to have addressed all of the issues with hydrogen fuel cell cars. What is missing is the hydrogen distribution infrastructure. If the Federal Government were to require a transition of a percentage of the Federal automobile fleet to hydrogen fuel cell cars and it was obvious the market was going to be there for hydrogen stations, I believe private enterprise would take steps to provide the hydrogen fueling stations. I also believe that with the visible presence of hydrogen stations in the community, consumers would begin to purchase hydrogen fuel cell cars also which would expand the need for more stations that private enterprise would provide.


The issue of hydrogen production comes up in this discussion. The steam reformation of natural gas to produce hydrogen is also a green house gas emitter. The Government should lead in developing the ability to use wind and solar power that cannot be put on the grid (due to max loading by hydro generation or other inefficiencies) to produce hydrogen by dissociation of water. There is plenty of water available in the Columbia and Mississippi Rivers alone so as not to make a dent in the irrigation supply and produce most of the hydrogen needed for this effort to begin.



Idea No. 13443