Full Steam Ahead with Hydrogen and Fuel Cells

October 25, 2021

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With a constant stream of exciting announcements, major collaborations, significant investments, and larger and larger deployments, the hydrogen and fuel cell industries are making waves and showing no signs of stopping.

There are many reasons why. As hydrogen and fuel cell technologies continue to prove to be viable low-to-zero emission options to power a range of applications, they are increasingly recognized as critical tools to decarbonize hard to abate sectors including trucking and aviation, as well as industrial applications such as steel, cement, ceramics, or glass manufacturing.

Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies continue to prove to be viable low-to-zero emission options to power a range of applications. 

In the U.S., the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA) is leading the charge, working with its members and allies on the regulatory, policy, and outreach fronts. As the only national industry association, FCHEA has seen tremendous growth this past year, attracting new members that include utilities, financial and law firms, end users, and innovative fuel cell, component, and hydrogen generation companies, bringing its existing, already impressive roster to more than 70 leading companies and organizations.

In September, FCHEA announced that its president, Morry Markowitz, was retiring after 10 years of dedicated and outstanding stewardship of the association. His successor, Frank Wolak, brings decades of experience in the energy and utility fields, including serving as senior vice president for government affairs and market development at FuelCell Energy, Inc., a long-standing FCHEA member company, and has previously served as FCHEA’s board chair. Wolak’s portfolio at FuelCell Energy included developing some of the most innovative and largest fuel cell technology applications in the world and working on both federal and state-level policies to enable the growth of fuel cell and hydrogen markets.

FCHEA’s new president, Frank Wolak, brings decades of experience in the energy and utility fields. 

Also in September, as the U.S. representative, FCHEA joined with 12 other international hydrogen associations in signing a joint letter of intent to establish the Global Hydrogen Industrial Association Alliance (GHIAA). The GHIAA reinforces the global consensus that hydrogen needs to play a role in emissions reduction and decarbonization, as countries, governments, and industries are committing to investments, roadmaps, and strategies.

FCHEA is encouraged by the increased backing from the Biden administration and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to drive the country forward as a world leader in hydrogen and fuel cell manufacturing and utilization.

In an effort to meet President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, DOE launched the Hydrogen Energy Earthshot in June. This bold initiative aims to achieve a kilogram of hydrogen cost of $1 in 10 years. To meet that goal, DOE is moving quickly, recently awarding funds to selected projects demonstrating zero-carbon nuclear-generated hydrogen and liquid hydrogen storage; testing of key hydrogen systems, including safety components; and providing real-world data to guide future clean hydrogen deployments in the United States. 

DOE launched the Hydrogen Energy Earthshot to achieve a kilogram of hydrogen cost of $1 in 10 years. 

FCHEA members, representing the full industry supply chain, are showing how invested the private sector is to help meet that DOE goal, and how that investment creates jobs and export opportunities. In just the past few months, there have been exciting projects announced, including large-scale hydrogen production plants, as well as the construction and expansion of manufacturing facilities for fuel cell and electrolyzer systems and components. These investments will increase capacity across North America, including California, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas, as well as British Columbia and Ontario, Canada. There have been new products launched for the mobility, stationary, backup power, and hydrogen generation markets, and the development of key partnerships and collaborations that expand U.S.-based companies into Asia, Europe, and other parts of the world.

There are also bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill to spur and nurture the growth of hydrogen in the U.S. Current bills being negotiated include significant funding for regional clean hydrogen hubs, research and development for electrolysis, creation of a national hydrogen roadmap and strategy, and other measures and initiatives that are critical to ensuring the long-term success of the industry in the U.S.

While the legislative process takes place, Congress formally recognized the seventh consecutive National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day on October 8, 2021, with the bipartisan sponsorship and passage of Senate Resolution 412, and the introduction of a similar resolution in the House of Representatives. At the state level, official proclamations and resolutions, as well as statements of support came from governors and policy officials in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day is an international celebration on October 8, 10/8, in recognition of the atomic weight of hydrogen – 1.008. 

Celebrated on October 8, (10/08) in recognition of the atomic weight of hydrogen (1.008), National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day was spearheaded by FCHEA in 2015 and has since grown into an international celebration. The event has brought together the global fuel cell and hydrogen industry, including its employees, customers, and suppliers, as well as federal, state, and local officials and stakeholders to raise awareness of the economic and environmental benefits these technologies provide to a range of market sectors around the world.

FCHEA members and others in both the private and public sector commemorated the day with product launches, milestones, site visits, webinars, podcasts, and other activities showcasing the spectrum of benefits the technologies have to offer as well as its vast manufacturing and employment footprint across the world. These activities extended beyond the U.S. into Australia, Israel, and across Europe. The celebration by all measures, was the most successful and expansive one yet.

With the rising tide of collective excitement, FCHEA will continue to push for legislation, regulations, and policies that support the full spectrum of the hydrogen and fuel cell industry. It is crucial to employ the entire portfolio of low-to-zero carbon technologies to achieve the global goal of decarbonization, so it’s all hands-on deck and full steam ahead.