HTAP Meeting Develops Scenarios for H2 Infrastructure Development

by Robert L. Mauro, Executive Vice President, National Hydrogen Association
There is increasing interest in hydrogen at a time when the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hydrogen Program Budget is decreasing and the Hydrogen Future Act (HFA) requires reauthorization. In this environment, DOE has restructured the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE); the Hydrogen Technical Advisory Panel (HTAP) and the Hydrogen Program are performing a joint planning exercise; while other parts of DOE are putting together plans and roadmaps that, for the first time, seriously incorporate hydrogen technologies.

HTAP met 28-29 February at the Sheraton Premiere Hotel in Vienna, Virginia, U.S.A. After introductions and opening comments, Dave Nahmias, Chairman of HTAP, introduced Robert Dixon, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Power Technologies (OPT). Dixon described the range of activities within OPT, which includes the Hydrogen Program. He went on to briefly discuss the portion of restructuring within OPT that affects the Hydrogen Program. Bill Parks, previously of the Office of Industrial Programs, will move over to OPT and consolidate the office’s distributed generation activities, said Dixon.

Dixon’s talk was followed by a presentation from Lisa Jacobson of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. The heart of her message was that natural gas providers and developers of renewable communities are natural partners and should work together to reach common goals.

The remainder of the first day was devoted to presentations and discussions on Hydrogen Fuel Infrastructure Development and Hydrogen Scenarios for the 21st Century. The Blueprint for Hydrogen Fuel Infrastructure Development, created by the DOE, was discussed in the previous issue of the NHA News. Representatives from the California Fuel Cell Partnership, Department of Transportation, and Office of Transportation Technologies gave brief updates of their activities and progress. Each presentation reinforced the necessity of a five-year infrastructure blueprint.

Hank Wedda of the California Hydrogen Business Council and Jim Ohi, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, then presented a report on HTAP’s Scenario Planning Workshop. Key uncertainties identified at the workshop were:

Other important information from the Scenario Planning Update centered on the business considerations necessary to develop a sustainable future. They included:

In line with the discussion on scenario planning, Dr. Bill Valdez, Director of the Office of Planning and Analyses in DOE’s Office of Science, discussed creating a Roadmap to the hydrogen future. He pointed out that Research and Development Roadmapping requires the following steps:

The remainder of the presentations related to DOE’s fossil energy activities, including DOE participation in the ITM syngas concept project with Air Products and Chemicals, Building Technologies, and the mining industry of the future. A brief mention of hydrogen fuel cell locomotives and their part in mines of the 21st Century was made.

The final two presentations given that day were by Mike Heben of NREL and myself. Heben discussed progress in carbon nanotubes for hydrogen storage and an award from HTAP in recognition of that effort. I presented the NHA’s priorities and recent activities and raised the dual issues of decreased funding for the Hydrogen Program in the FY 2001 budget and the need for reauthorization of the HFA.

Tuesday morning’s meetings focused on policy issues. The HTAP Chairman reintroduced the topic of the HFA and DOE’s FY 2001 budget request. Dick Bradshaw, of EERE, presented the DOE position on the Bioenergy Initiative, which is focused on fuels, and also discussed the Hydrogen Program and its relationship with OTT and the fuel cell activities.

Helena Chum, Director of the Research Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, outlined the bill to reauthorize the HFA and key provisions of the reauthorization. The reauthorization includes provisions for funding federal projects and stationary power fuel cell systems utilizing hydrogen, and provides a Zero-Emission Vehicle mandate for the federal government similar to that of the state of California.

Former Chairman of the House Science Committee Robert Walker discussed the current bill and the reasons for the inception of the HFA. He stated that the HFA was created to provide a home for core competency in hydrogen. The budget has grown greatly since the original Act was passed.

Walker went on to say that it was important to increase hydrogen funding for FY 2001 because that funding level will determine the benchmark for authorization levels within the reauthorization of the HFA. Higher FY 2001 appropriations permit higher creditable authorization levels in the reauthorization bill. Walker stated that he did not understand the reasons behind DOE’s reduction of the FY 2001 Hydrogen Program Budget. Sig Gronich concluded HTAP’s formal presentations by discussing the Hydrogen Program and its management structure.

Two central ideas were defined at the HTAP meeting. First was the link between increasing the proposed DOE hydrogen budget and the importance of reauthorization of the Hydrogen Future Act. The second was that scenario planning is leading to consideration of how and what factors must be incorporated in business strategies to reflect evolving social, economical, and environmental values.

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