Hydrogen fuel cells winning favor with the Department of EnergyJuly 9, 2012
Secretary Steven Chu begins to lighten up to fuel cells
The U.S. Department of Energy has had a turbulent history with hydrogen fuel cells. The agency has garnered a degree of infamy within the alternative energy community. The agency’s stance on hydrogen fuel cells is linked to Secretary Steven Chu, the overseer of the organization. Chu has claimed that hydrogen fuel cells will not be a viable clean technology in the foreseeable future. Since his appointment as head of the Department of Energy in 2009, Chu has been opposed to the notion of supporting the research and development of hydrogen fuel cells, opting instead to support other forms of alternative energy. Chu’s ideology seems to be changing, however.
Hydrogen fuel cells gaining ground with the head of the DOE
The DOE Secretary has announced that he has begun adopting a more positive outlook on hydrogen fuel and its associated technologies. Chu’s opinions on hydrogen fuel cells had garnered him a great deal of criticism from those that support the energy systems. Essentially, Chu had believed that using the technology was not feasible, save for miraculous advances in the technology that would make it profoundly more efficient and powerful. Despite Chu’s view on hydrogen fuel cells, the Department of Energy has taken to supporting some hydrogen-based projects over the past two years.
Availability of natural gas cited as key factor in shifting support
These projects, such as an expansive hydrogen-powered waste-water treatment facility in California, have managed to sway the favor of Secretary Chu. While these projects have shown that hydrogen fuel cells can be powerful and efficient energy systems, it is natural gas that has sparked the Secretary’s support of the technology. Chu notes that the abundance of natural gas in the U.S. is making hydrogen fuel cells seem more attractive to the Department of Energy.
Natural gas prices could make hydrogen fuel cells more popular
Natural gas is a popular power source for fuel cells. In the U.S. the price of natural gas is dropping quickly. As natural gas becomes more affordable, hydrogen fuel cells are beginning to garner more favor, especially from those that had opposed their use in the past.
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