The U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Program has issued a call for information regarding the commercial readiness of hydrogen fuel cells. The program was established to investigate the viability of hydrogen energy and promote projects centering on this form of power. The Department of Energy has had a turbulent relationship with hydrogen in general, decrying it as a distant future answer for an immediate problem in early 2011. That ideology changed quickly, however, as the agency was confronted with the very real possibility of hydrogen becoming the preferred source of fuel for the auto industry.
Because the federal government has shown little interest in hydrogen in the past, fuel cell technology has relied heavily on private investments. The Fuel Cell Technologies Program is now looking for feedback from investors and fuel cell manufacturers in order to determine whether fuel cells are ready to be incorporated into the U.S. power structure en masse. The information the program is most interested in is the lifespan of fuel cells and how quickly the technology can be deployed amongst consumers.
Hydrogen is growing in demand in many parts of the world, especially from nations seeking to develop themselves without having to rely on oil. Fuel cells are expensive, however, putting them out of the reach of most consumers. Thus, few have shown any interest in adopting hydrogen energy for use with their vehicles. If fuel cells can be commercialized, that means their cost will drop significantly, making them a viable option for the general public.