11th Annual Hydrogen Meeting Sounds a Clarion Call for Action

by Lara Neer, Program Coordinator, National Hydrogen Association
The National Hydrogen Association’s 11th Annual Meeting (The Universal Fuel) was held from 29 February to 2 March 2000 in Vienna, Virginia, U.S.A., at the Sheraton Premiere Tysons Corner. Attendance to the meeting grew to 248 this year and this trend is likely to persist as the interest in a sustainable hydrogen future continues.

A highlight of the meeting was the demonstration of the Stuart Energy Personal Refueler system. The hydrogen produced by the dishwasher-sized unit directly fueled an NRG Technologies vehicle. Political figures—including former House Science Committee Chairman Robert Walker, U.S. Representative Mark Udall, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, Icelandic Minister of Energy and Trade Valgerdur Sverrisdottir, and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Robert Dixon—were able to ride in, as well as drive, the hydrogen-powered vehicle. Through this type of technology demonstration, we are closer to realizing the implementation of this type of technology.
Much effort was spent securing greater sponsorship from members as well as friends in the hydrogen community. We would like to thank our generous NHA 11th Annual Meeting Sponsors:
The USDA's Bob Dixon and Icelandic Minister Valgerdur Sverrsdottir both spoke of hydrogen use success stories at the NHA's 11th Annual Hydrogen Meeting in March.

Former U.S. Representative Bob Walker challenged attendees at the 11th Annual U.S. Hydrogen Meeting to continue pushing for hydrogen funding through the Hydrogen Future Act.
The first day of the meeting began with a Keynote address from Robert Walker, former U.S. Congressman and Chair of the House Science Committee. He encouraged meeting delegates to maintain the push for Hydrogen Program funding even in the face of recent budgetary cuts by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Walker reminded everyone why the Hydrogen Future Act was established and called upon attendees to work for reauthorization of the HFA for fiscal year 2001.

This went hand-in-hand with Bob Dixon’s presentation regarding DOE’s pledge to support emerging hydrogen technologies. Dixon asked that members of the NHA work with him to show his management the progress being made. Success stories, he said, are particularly important.

Much of the rest of the meeting was devoted to energy policies both in the United States and abroad, particularly in the country of Iceland. Iceland’s Minister of Energy and Trade, Valgerdur Sverrisdottir, spoke about the geothermal resources in that country being manipulated to demonstrate the possibility of a hydrogen economy. The Chairman of the Committee of Industry and Energy gave a presentation on the implications of this scaleable hydrogen demonstration project on Iceland and the world. He explained some of the more technical aspects of the project, including the prospect of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by employing methanol reforming instead of fossil fuels.

The second Keynote address, given by U.S. Representative Mark Udall of Colorado’s Second District, emphasized his willingness to work with members of the NHA to secure increased funding for the hydrogen program and reauthorization of the HFA. Representative Udall is a staunch supporter of renewable technologies and just last year proposed an amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill that added US$30 million to U.S. solar and renewable energy program funds.

There were three panel discussions over the course of the conference that covered such diverse topics as providing energy for transportation applications, how to obtain press coverage for demonstration projects as well as technological advances, and issues critical to the commercialization of hydrogen technologies. All of these panels were instrumental in drawing attention to the need for continued cooperation between industry, government, academia, and the public so that acceptance of a hydrogen economy can be attained.

The industry-sponsored Mardi Gras reception was a great success and, judging from the comments received from attendees, a lively time was had by all. A highlight of the evening was the appearance of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. He spoke about his belief in and support of hydrogen systems and the impact they will have on the environment, government, and life as all inhabitants know it today. Senator Harkin mingled with the delegates at the reception and met with the Icelandic delegation to give his support of their project.

Andrew Stuart demonstrates Stuart's Energy compact hydrogen Personal Refueler System to the U.S. Senator Tom Harkin at the 11th Annual U.S. Hydrogen Meeting.
An Awards Luncheon took place on the final day of the conference. Four pillars of the hydrogen community were honored for their commitment and service to the proliferation of hydrogen technologies. They included Robert Hay of Tisec, Inc., for his diligent work on the Sourcebook for Hydrogen Applications; Kazukiyo Okano for his continued work at WE-NET; Carl-Jochen Winter for his work at Energon; and David Oddsson, Prime Minister of Iceland, for encouraging the establishment of the first all-hydrogen economy in the world.

All aspects of the 11th Annual Meeting focused our attention on aggressively promoting the technological advancements being made every day in the realm of hydrogen. Both Keynote speakers stressed their belief that public acceptance and viability will come through increased awareness of current demonstration projects. Infrastructure issues must be addressed and solved. Getting the word out about a sustainable hydrogen economy is paramount for increased and continued funding from government.

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