A Year in Hydrogen: Innovative Products, Progressive Policies, and New Players Emerge

    Originally posted by Morry Markowitz | January 3, 2020 | ACTNews | Original Article

    2019 was a great year for fuel cells and hydrogen. The industry experienced a surge of development in many areas, with continued gains in deployments of consumer cars and material handling equipment, as well as a focus on new applications such as medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and shipping propulsion. The growth and viability of hydrogen and fuel cells was demonstrated by more products, new players in the industry, and policies that are setting 2020 up to be an exciting start to a decade of progress.

    Accelerating Innovation and Ensuring Market Growth Through Policy

    Several policy initiatives on Capitol Hill began last year that will be vital to continued market growth of the fuel cell and hydrogen industry. Bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House and Senate to reinstate and extend tax incentives for transportation and stationary fuel cell applications. This includes the Driving America Forward Act, which would revive the Section 30B consumer credit for fuel cell vehicles for ten years, and the Renewable Energy Extension Act, which would extend the Section 48 investment tax credit (ITC) for five years for fuel cell systems, including those for material handling and stationary power equipment, among other clean energy technologies.

    Congress continued to work on clean energy tax solutions as the year came to an end, such as the House Ways and Means Committee’s recently introduced GREEN Act. This draft bill includes extensions of existing fuel cell and hydrogen credits along with new incentives for hydrogen energy storage, medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, and manufacturing for fuel cell and hydrogen energy systems. In addition, congressional leadership continues to negotiate an “extenders” package for recently expired or expiring incentives, including the 30B fuel cell vehicle credit, the 30C credit for hydrogen refueling stations, and the ITC. We are hopeful the Renewable Energy Extension Act and the Driving America Forward Act will be the cornerstones for negotiations.

    To ensure that the US Department of Energy has the proper resources for its research, development, demonstration, and deployment agenda, the full House and the Senate Appropriations Committee passed appropriations bills that include the highest level of funding for hydrogen and fuel cell activities in years. The legislation in each chamber also includes the most comprehensive direction language for these activities, while maintaining funding for the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Program. While a final energy appropriations bill has not passed yet, the level of support for hydrogen and fuel cell funding in the House and Senate over the course of 2019 is remarkable.

    2019 also saw the introduction of many policy bills that would accelerate existing applications for hydrogen and fuel cells, while launching their adoption in emerging end uses. These bills include, but are not limited to, the Clean School Bus Act of 2019, the American Energy Opportunity Act of 2019, the Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act of 2019, and the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019. As we move into 2020, we look forward to seeing all these bills, and more, progress through both chambers of Congress.

    The fuel cell and hydrogen industry excels best when it works together and builds partnerships across markets and applications to expand our outreach network and grow support. A strong example of this was the development and release of the Executive Summary of Road Map to a US Hydrogen Economy, which was developed in collaboration with a large group of companies and organizations representing the automotive, electric and gas utility, hydrogen production, and fuel cell manufacturing space, with assistance from McKinsey and Company and the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association. While the full report is set for publication in the first quarter of 2020, the Executive Summary offers a glimpse into how hydrogen can play an integral role in US energy leadership and widescale decarbonization within many sectors including transportation, electricity, industry, and more. The study highlights that hydrogen has the potential to generate $140 billion per year in revenue by 2030, create 700,000 jobs by 2030, and meet 15% of US energy demand by 2050, if we have the right policies in place and begin taking further action today.

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