This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 04, 2004

National Research Council Reports on U.S. Hydrogen Energy Efforts

President Bush's vision of a hydrogen energy economy would have fundamental and dramatic benefits for our energy security and the environment, according to a report released on February 4th by the National Research Council (NRC). The report notes that a transition to hydrogen as a major fuel over the next 50 years could fundamentally transform the U.S. energy system, creating opportunities to increase energy security by producing hydrogen from a variety of domestic energy sources.

The report, "The Hydrogen Economy: Opportunities, Costs, Barriers and R&D Needs," indicates that DOE's broad approach to produce hydrogen from domestic coal resources as well as renewable energy is important for the emergence of a viable transportation system. The NRC recommended that DOE more fully coordinate its hydrogen programs in its renewable energy, fossil energy, nuclear energy, and science offices.

The report stresses that there are challenges to the achievement of a hydrogen economy, and indicates that the DOE Hydrogen program is probably under-funded, "particularly because a significant fraction of appropriated funds is already earmarked (by Congress)." According to DOE, of the $78 million appropriated to hydrogen in fiscal year 2004, more than $37 million was earmarked for congressionally directed projects. DOE requested the NRC study, which was prepared jointly with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). See the DOE press release.

The National Academies, which include the NRC and the NAE, bring together experts in all areas of scientific and technological endeavor to address critical national issues and give advice to the federal government and the public. See the press release from the National Academies, or go directly to the full NRC report.

As part of the President's FreedomCAR and Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, DOE launched an effort in October 2003 to introduce science students across the country to the promise of hydrogen and fuel cell technology. David K. Garman, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, kicked off the effort at a high school in the District of Columbia, and the director of DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology followed up with a demonstration in a Pittsburgh high school in December. On February 4th, the head of DOE's Office of Fossil Energy brought the hydrogen and fuel-cell demonstration to middle and elementary students in Denver. See the DOE press releases from October 28th, December 8th, and February 4th.