USA: President Approves $100 Million Fuel Cell Appropriation

By Press Release | 13 October 2000

The Department of Energy will have more than $100 million for fuel cell related programs in the new fiscal year, $10 million above the President's request. The money is contained in the Interior Appropriation bill signed by President Clinton on Wednesday.

"We hope this marks a watershed for fuel cell funding," said Robert Rose, executive director of Breakthrough Technologies Institute/Fuel Cells 2000. "This is the first time in recent memory that Congress fully funded the Department of Energy's fuel cell research budget. The program additions are all the more evidence that the promise of fuel cells is finally being recognized."

The House and Senate jointly agreed upon $52.7 million for stationary fuel cells, $10 million more than requested, and approved the full request of $41.5 million for transportation fuel cell research and $5.5 million for buildings.

The stationary fuel cell program dollars will fund research and development to reduce costs and improve performance leading to market ready fuel cell power systems within three years, support prototype testing at a commercial site and fund hybrid fuel cell power system research.

The bill allocates $41.5 million to transportation fuel cell research such as integrating fuel cell stacks with fuel processors and balance-of-plant technologies for testing. The program will also address technology barriers to fuel-flexible fuel cell systems for automotive applications.

The "Fuel Cells for Buildings" program will receive $5.5 million dollars, which will go towards: developing a prototype fuel processor, completing the design competition for a 50kW cogenerator for buildings, and other R&D. The buildings program received a 55 percent increase from the FY2000 level.

"There has been tremendous private investment in fuel cell technologies worldwide," Rose added. "But government still has a key role to play in funding new ideas, cost reduction strategies and domestic prototype testing. Fuel cells have received a relatively small share of the federal energy research budget. But that money will help assure that a healthy U.S. fuel cell industry will be competitive in the race to commercialize this advanced energy technology."

Fuel cells generate electricity without combustion by harnessing the energy created when hydrogen and oxygen are chemically combined. Fuel Cells 2000 is an independent, nonprofit activity dedicated to the commercialization of fuel cell technologies.