Fuel Cells and Hydrogen in 2018: A Banner Year to Build On

December 20, 2018

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As the world prepares to ring in the New Year, the fuel cell and hydrogen industry has a lot to celebrate when reflecting on 2018 – from policy achievements to major advancements and investments – with momentum building to expand on in 2019 and beyond.

As markets are forming and growing in a range of applications in the mobility and stationary power sectors, fuel cells and hydrogen technologies need a unified voice to ensure inclusion in codes, standards and regulations as well as federal, state and local policies. The Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA) provides that voice.

FCHEA Worked to Educate Stakeholders

The year began on a high note when the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 was signed into law in February. The bill included a five-year reinstatement of the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for stationary and material handling fuel cells, as well as a one-year retroactive restoration of the fuel cell vehicle (FCV) and hydrogen fueling station credits. This action was critical after a 2015 legislative package extended the ITC for other clean energy technologies but excluded fuel cells. FCHEA, its members, and supporters worked non-stop to educate Congressional members and staff about the benefits of fuel cells for both the economy and environment. FCHEA also emphasized the need to restore ITC fairness and parity to avoid further disruption to the growth of the fuel cell industry in terms of output and new job creation.

The fuel cell and hydrogen industry saw policy achievements as well as major advancements and investments in 2018, with momentum building to expand in 2019.

The industry also made great strides in raising awareness with key stakeholders in 2018.  In June, the first-ever National Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Forum was held in Washington, D.C. attracting more than 350 representatives of the fuel cell and hydrogen industries in the United States and around the world, as well as Members of Congress; senior officials from the Departments of Energy, Transportation, and the White House; state legislators and agency representatives; and leaders from the private sector and non-governmental organizations.

On October 8th, the industry celebrated the 4th annual National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day. The day was officially recognized by a resolution in the United States Senate and a wide array of events and announcements from government and industry both inside the Beltway and across the country.

Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Industry Highlights

However, the greatest successes in 2018 came from industry continuing to develop and commercialize fuel cell and hydrogen products that consumers want.

Few other technologies can provide clean, reliable power to such a wide range of applications. The fuel cell and hydrogen industry is a global one, yet provides tremendous local impact where systems are built or deployed. In the U.S., there was much to celebrate in both the public and private sectors, with significant deployment and installation goals being reached, as well as investment in demonstration projects and new manufacturing and generation facilities.

From the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which restored ITC parity to the fuel cell industry, to the first-ever National Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Forum, and the 4th annual National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day, the industry made great strides.

Collectively, in the U.S., the fuel cell and hydrogen market can now boast the following:

  • More than 6,000 fuel cell vehicles on the road and 36 retail hydrogen stations now operating in California, with that market soon expanding into the Northeast
  • Over 23,000 fuel cell-powered material handling vehicles in operation at warehouses and distribution centers in more than 25 states and several countries around the world – with each deployment of these vehicles comes hydrogen dispensers and supporting infrastructure
  • More than 100 megawatts of stationary fuel cells installed across the country in 2018, boosting the total number in the U.S. to more than 500 MW

From these numbers and other big announcements in 2018, highlights include:

  • Hawaii opening its first public hydrogen fueling station
  • Fuel cell-powered medium-duty delivery vehicles put into service by FedEx and UPS in New York and California, respectively
  • Announcements of fuel cell trains, ferries, drones, boats, and even airplanes
  • Major investment by California ($41 million) to deploy ten fuel cell Class 8 trucks, as well as hydrogen fueling infrastructure and other fuel cell-powered off-road and logistics vehicles at the Port of Los Angeles
  • Stationary fuel cell purchases/installations by customers such as Campbell’s Soup Company (CA), JSR Micro (CA), Partners Healthcare (MA), State University of New York (SUNY)’s Downstate Medical Center (NY), U.S. Naval Submarine Base New London (CT), Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve (WI)
FCHEA Members Made Big Investments in 2018

2018 also saw some big investments from FCHEA members to establish and increase hydrogen a production and supply in the U.S.

Large-scale investments in the hydrogen supply-chain will support major increases in fuel cell vehicle deployment, as the light-duty vehicle market expands from California into the Northeast.

  • $150 million by Air Liquide to build the first world-scale liquid hydrogen production unit dedicated to the hydrogen energy markets, in the Western United States.;
  • The Linde Group held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new 25 million standard cubic feet per day hydrogen production facility that is being built in Delaware City, Delaware; and
  • United Hydrogen held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a $40 million expansion to its hydrogen conversion facility in Charleston, Tennessee.

The large-scale investments in the hydrogen supply-chain will help support major increases in fuel cell vehicle deployment, especially as the industry expands the light-duty vehicle market into the Northeast U.S., and into larger vehicle markets such as medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses.

These bullets only scratch the surface of all that happened this year in fuel cells and hydrogen, from FCHEA, its members, and others.  As customers experience the benefits of these technologies – energy security, efficiency, durability, clean, reliable and long-lasting power – the growing list of markets will continue in 2019 and beyond. We, here at FCHEA, can’t wait to see what comes next.