Fledgling CHBC Meets in Lake Tahoe

by Heidi Barnes, Hydrogen Fire and Gas Detection Consultant

The California Hydrogen Business Council (CHBC) had its second meeting on 15 September 1997 in Lake Tahoe, California, U.S.A., and is well on the way to having an official organization with elected officers by January of 1998. The CHBC is focused on the commercialization of hydrogen in the Western U.S., with specific emphasis on California, where utility deregulation will open up new opportunities for hydrogen as an alternative clean energy source.

Key company participation from Dave Moard of Hydrogen Burner Technology and Dave Haberman of DCH Technology in the formation of the CHBC, and support from Allied Signal and Lockheed Martin Northrup-Grumman, demonstrate the focus on teaming together to make information on hydrogen easily assessable rather than a commodity. This free sharing of hydrogen information will provide the lubrication necessary for the faster development of hydrogen products.

The formation of the CHBC also responds directly to the U.S. Department of Energy’s request for more industry participation in hydrogen as a sustainable fuel and movement away from government- and university-led demonstrations. DOE has utilized the not-for-profit NHA organization for key assessments of hydrogen technologies in the U.S., but NHA cannot easily address the wide variety of regional issues. The CHBC has the advantage of focusing on regional issues and providing a business orientation that can influence local and state governments on the acceptance and profitability of hydrogen.

Although this organization is in its infancy, other organizations across the country could benefit from copying the format of the CHBC. The formation of business councils across the country will need flexibility in adapting to their local regions, however, participation in the NHA annual meeting could provide an excellent forum for coordination and exchange of information on lessons learned.

The numerous presentations were very well received and demonstrated the ever-expanding interest in hydrogen. Dave Haberman, vice president of the CHBC, was pleased to inform everyone that DOE’s HTAP had provided time on its agenda for a message from the CHBC. This message covered the need for government-funded demonstrations that include real licensing opportunities for new technologies and the need for government-funded risk-reduction projects for hydrogen safety that involve the insurance industry. Overall, the CHBC sees a much faster timeline to hydrogen energy than the 50 years that has been predicted by the “think tanks” of the Washington, D.C., beltway.

In conclusion, CHBC President Moard reminded everyone that the CHBC is for its members and that every member should take the opportunity to present the hydrogen technology they would be willing to champion. For more information, contact David Haberman at +1.818.385.0400.

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