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DOE Slashes Funding for Hydrogen Cars

energygovEnergy Secretary Steven Chu sees little promise in hydrogen-powered cars as the Department of Energy (DOE) released its proposed fiscal 2010 budget that cuts programs for developing the transportation technologies, reports Climate Progress.

In a recent briefing, Chu cited several barriers to the technology including infrastructure and the development of long-lasting portable fuel cells. The budget proposal trims more than $100 million from the hydrogen program in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, cutting it to $68 million for fuel cell research and development, according to Climate Progress.

This is a reversal to recent DOE investments, which have awarded funding to several companies for the development of hydrogen fuel technologies.

The US FUEL cell groups, the National Hydrogen Association (NHA) and US Fuel Cell Council (USFCC), are criticizing DOE plans to cut government funding for its hydrogen and fuel cell technology program by almost 60 percent, reports TCE Today.

These organizations say the cuts threaten the commercialization of technologies that show promise and are starting to gain market traction. The groups told TCE Today in a statement that fuel-cell vehicles achieve 72 miles per gallon, fuel cell buses have twice the fuel economy of diesel buses and that the production costs of hydrogen cars are on a par with conventional vehicles.

According to Larry Wilson, guest columnist for The State news site, hydrogen fuel cells are commercial and in the marketplace today, citing major investments in the technology by the state of South Carolina that have led to more than 100 knowledge-based jobs.

Wilson said in the article that investments in world-class researchers such as Ken Reifsnider, facilities as Innovista and Savannah River National Lab, and commercialization programs as SC Launch have already made progress. He also noted that USC received a $12.5 million investment from the Department of Energy to advance engineering devices including fuel cells, electrolyzers, electrodes, photovoltaics, combustion devices, fuel-processing devices and functional membranes and coatings.

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