Despite having been called “snake oil” by some, hydrogen fuel cell technology received a big boost recently from the US Department of Energy (DOE). The government agency is giving over $20 million for ten different projects that will promote the use of hydrogen as a fuel source, including in light-duty vehicles.
At the same time, the DOE released a new report called “Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report 2014.” The report concludes that the fuel cell industry is actually growing at a much faster rate than many believe, constituting $2.2 billion in sales for all of 2014. In 2013, that figure was $1.3 billion. The DOE also says that the cost of fuel cells for vehicles has been cut in half since 2006, while designs are about twice as durable.
One of the ten projects takes on the creation of pipelines for delivering hydrogen to fueling stations, something that has been a major hurdle for the technology. Developing integrated intelligent hydrogen dispensers is the topic of another. The other projects focus on the production of hydrogen, fuel cell designs and modeling early market trends/challenges.
Also included in the report were some interesting facts about the adoption of fuel cell technology. For example, just under 10 percent of all Fortune 500 companies report using fuel cells, whether it be for stationary or mobile applications. When looking at the Fortune 100, that figure swells to 25 percent, with examples of the technology powering retail locations, forklifts and even cell towers. Speaking of forklifts, fuel cells are now used to power over 7,500 of them in North America.
Hydrogen fuel is definitely making its presence known, even if everyone hasn’t felt it yet. In 2014, over 90 hydrogen fuel station projects were announced around the world. California is the most aggressive promoter, pledging at least $20 million each year for the foundation of new fueling stations in its borders, until at least 100 are in operation.