Federal Policies Are Advancing Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Energy

October 8, 2019

For the fifth year in a row, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution designating October 8, 2019, as “National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day.” In past years, the House of Representatives has introduced a similar resolution with cosponsors from both parties.

Bipartisan, bicameral support for National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day reflects the longstanding belief in the energy, environmental, and economic benefits of these technologies across the United States Government. From research and development activities, to grant programs and tax code provisions, there are a wide variety of federal policies helping advance fuel cells and hydrogen as part of an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.

Early US Investment in Fuel Cell Technology

Fuel cells ensured the success of American manned spaceflights and ultimately helped the United States put a man on the moon.

The United States first took interest in fuel cell technology during the 1950’s Space Race, when hydrogen fuel cells were used by NASA to provide power and drinking water for the Gemini, Apollo, and Shuttle missions. Fuel cells ensured the success of American manned spaceflights and ultimately helped the United States put a man on the moon. The government’s critical early investments in fuel cell and hydrogen technologies for spaceflight laid the foundation for today’s commercial fuel cell industry.

Fuel Cell Funding Today

The federal government appropriates funds into research, development, and demonstration activities for fuel cell systems and hydrogen.

Today, the federal government appropriates funds into research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) activities for fuel cell systems and hydrogen energy. Funding primarily goes to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO), which leverages resources from DOE, our National Laboratories, and the private sector to advance cutting-edge developments in fuel cells and hydrogen energy. FCHEA, the Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association, and its member companies work hard to ensure that Congress provides robust appropriations and program language every year to FCTO, along with DOE’s Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Program in the Office of Fossil Energy.

In addition to DOE, other federal departments are funding their own RD&D projects to advance hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The Department of Transportation has provided nearly $70 million to deploy and evaluate hydrogen fuel cell buses on local transit routes across the country and has conducted significant RD&D into the use of fuel cells to power ships. Meanwhile, the Department of Defense is working to develop hydrogen and fuel cell technologies as a more efficient, reliable, and quieter way to power vehicles, bases, and even troops’ equipment.

Tax Incentives Fueling Hydrogen Technology

The federal tax code is one of the most effective ways to advance clean energy technologies.

The federal tax code is one of the most effective ways to advance clean energy technologies—and fuel cells and hydrogen energy are no exception. Tax incentives available today for customers of stationary and material handling fuel cell systems include the Section 48 Investment Tax Credit and the Section 25D Residential Energy Credit. FCHEA is working with our bipartisan champions in Congress to help extend these credits.

On the transportation side, the Section 30B and 30C credits provide incentives for the purchase of fuel cell vehicles and deployment of hydrogen refueling stations, but both have recently expired. To ensure parity and equal tax treatment between all clean energy technologies, FCHEA and its members are supporting efforts to reinstate and extend these credits.

Hydrogen and fuel cells have played, and will continue to play, a crucial role in providing clean, efficient, and resilient energy across the country. There are many opportunities to include these technologies in infrastructure, energy, and environmental policy legislation. Although National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day only comes once a year, FCHEA and its members work year-round to share the benefits and value of fuel cells and hydrogen both inside and outside the beltway.

For more information about National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day 2019, please visit http://www.fchea.org/h2-day-2019.