Our plan recognizes that fuel cells are being developed for a variety of applications and have matured at different rates. Certain applications are ready for early market support, while others still would benefit from additional research and development funding.

CREATE A NEW ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE

Bud DeFlaviis

EarthToys Renewable Energy Article
Our plan recognizes that fuel cells are being developed for a variety of applications and have matured at different rates. Certain applications are ready for early market support, while others still would benefit from additional research and development funding.

Using The Stimulus Package
To Create A New Energy Infrastructure

By Bud DeFlaviis, Director of Government Affairs of the U.S. Fuel Cell Council
Contributed by http://www.fuelcells.org


Congress and the Obama Administration appear ready to commit a portion of the $850 billion stimulus package to boosting alternative energy. Clearly, we applaud the move and hope Congress and the president can come to an agreement that strengthens the productive relationship that the fuel cell industry has enjoyed with the government.

Greater federal investment into fuel cells will increase the supply of clean power, promote a critical climate-enhancing technology, create jobs, promote additional innovation and keep industrial capacity in the United States.

Just prior to the November election, our industry devised a stimulus proposal that would advance technological innovation and help achieve certain societal goals. After thoughtful consideration, we proposed a $1.2 billion plan that would support these goals in the short-term, and create a path forward to full-scale commercialization.

The plan proposed by the U.S. Fuel Cell Council (USFCC) is not entirely new. By and large, it proposes funding for a number of programs that have already been passed by Congress.

Our plan recognizes that fuel cells are being developed for a variety of applications and have matured at different rates. Certain applications are ready for early market support, while others still would benefit from additional research and development funding.

A summary of the USFCC proposal suggests Congress and the Obama administration support the following:

Deploy fuel cells and hydrogen infrastructure
Many fuel cell applications are available today for commercial and defense applications. These systems can supply clean energy for critical loads and improve material handling operations. The federal government has expressed significant interest in many of these applications and agencies can buy fuel cells directly from the manufacturers through the GSA. Promoting federal acquisition of fuel cells would make government more efficient and would accelerate commercialization. Further, federal grants and tax credits for hydrogen and other fuel cell fueling infrastructure will increase activity in existing markets like industrial equipment, while preparing communities for the arrival of fuel cell passenger vehicles.

Improve federal fuel cell investment tax incentives
Given the current economic climate, Congress should temporarily provide refunds for entities that can pay no taxes because they are losing money, and permanently provide payments for entities like hospitals and schools that are tax exempt. Technical changes in the language of the Investment Tax Credit for fuel cells would allow its provisions to work better together. Further, increasing the credit for fuel cells for homeowners to 30% or $3,000 per kilowatt would give home owners the same support already provided to businesses and industry.

Expand learning demonstrations
Learning demonstrations put early commercial and advanced experimental systems in the hands of users who help evaluate the systems even while enjoying their real-world benefits. Federal law already authorizes demonstrations and deployment in civilian and military applications.

Build American manufacturing capacity
Fuel cell companies and suppliers need to invest in manufacturing capacity, however, money from banks and investors is difficult to find. Federal grants and tax credits for investment in manufacturing infrastructure will keep jobs and industrial capability in the U.S., stimulate the supply chain and reduce unit costs.

Accelerate research
Research employs thousands in high-tech professions and trades. Fuel cell and hydrogen research can retain and expand jobs at universities, national laboratories and in the private sector. Basic research is needed in advanced materials, catalysis and other relevant fields. Applied research should focus on improved performance and reduced costs, and on improved availability, storage and utility of hydrogen and other fuels for fuel cells.

Invest in fuel cell transit
Fuel cell buses have proved their capability in revenue service operation and transit operators have expressed interest in additional deployments. Transit provisions in the stimulus should include purchase of at least 100 zero emission fuel cell buses and funds for relevant infrastructure investment.

Building a clean, smart and efficient energy infrastructure will not be an easy task, but it can be accomplished. With the right combination of investment, policies and demand form the public, we can work to commercialize alternative technologies that not only harness our regional resources but provide affordable products that meet consumer needs.

You can read the entire USFCC’s stimulus proposal here.

 

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