Popping the Hydrogen Hoopla Balloon

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Congress snuck a Halloween budget trick into the energy spending bill President Obama signed last week. Well, actually it was a $100 million treat for the hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) research and development (R&D) program that the President tried to pare back after previous administrations spent $1.4 billion over the years on this energy white elephant.

While some lawmakers are mesmerized by the alchemy-like idea of turning water into energy, hydrogen is not a silver bullet for all our energy ills. In theory, it’s a pretty picture: hydrogen provides carbon-free energy with no by-product but water. But in reality, HFC technology relies on pure hydrogen, which must be produced from natural gas, coal, biomass, nuclear, or water in an expensive, energy-intensive process. So there goes that zero-emission argument.


But the problems don’t stop there. The infrastructure required to transition to hydrogen-fueled transportation simply doesn’t exist. It’s a Catch-22 that has a choke-hold on investment