Seeking to bootstrap commercial development of the hydrogen fuel cell industry -- from hardware to infrastructure -- the US Fuel Cell Council (USFCC) has asked the government to provide $1.17 billion in dedicated funding starting in 2009. The USFCC is recommending that these monies, which have been approved but not yet specifically allocated as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the fiscal year 2010 budget, be applied in six strategic areas: deployment programs; refueling infrastructure; public learning demonstrations; creating domestic manufacturing capabilities; accelerating public-private research; and fuel cell transit programs.
Of the areas outlined, learning demonstrations would account for the single largest outlay with a proposed $375 million underwriting that would put various forms of fuel cell vehicles in the hands of both public and private parties for real-world evaluations. The second largest chunk of cash, $350 million, gets earmarked for research partnerships to help develop new approaches that would both improve performance and cut costs of the cells themselves, as well as focus on related technologies for hydrogen storage and look into cell designs that would operate using other types of renewable fuels. Under USFCC guidelines, domestic manufacturing facilities and deployment efforts would each be in line to receive $100 million in funding while an additional $65 million would be channeled towards developing in implementing the necessary refueling infrastructure system.