Energy Security Was Focus of This Year’s U.S. Hydrogen Conference
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By Brian Schorr, Project Coordinator, National Hydrogen Association

Six hundred and forty participants from around the world came to Washington, D.C. [U.S.A.], for NHA’s three-day Annual U.S. Hydrogen Conference and Hydrogen Expo USA, making it the largest and most attended conference ever. The theme of this 14th Annual Conference was “Energy Security through Hydrogen.” Due to the overwhelming response to the Call for Papers, the conference had more than 75 presentations, six plenary sessions, and 10 keynote speakers. To build on the theme of energy security, each session had at least one international presentation. The program included speakers from Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

The NHA was honored to have U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, U.S. Senators Byron Dorgan (Dem., N.D.) and Daniel Akaka (Dem., Hawaii), and Congressman John Peterson (Rep., Penn.) deliver keynote speeches. In addition, congressional staffers from the offices of U.S. Representatives George Radanovich (Rep., Calif.) and Jane Harman (Dem., Calif.) participated. More than 50 members of the press also attended.

DOE Secretary Spencer Abraham, right, accepts NHA's 2003 Meritorious Service Award from NHA Chair Gene Nemanich.

Secretary Abraham’s speech focused on the administration’s commitment to hydrogen. Interest in hydrogen has increased dramatically since the President’s State of the Union speech to Congress in January. President Bush proposed US$1.2 billion to Congress for research and development of hydrogen technologies. In his keynote address to conference participants, Secretary Abraham reiterated this request by spelling out the steps necessary for the nation to move towards a hydrogen economy: lowering the cost of fuel cells by a factor of ten, lowering the cost of hydrogen to US$1.50 per gallon, and the production of hydrogen from additional energy sources besides natural gas.

Senator Dorgan serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In his address, he unveiled legislation to launch a program to develop hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and infrastructure to support them. Included in his plan, Congress would invest US$6.5 billion over 10 years for the development of hydrogen fuel cells, stationary cells, and infrastructure. The legislation would set bold targets and timetables for reaching hydrogen commercialization goals. It encourages the private sector to join the federal government in investing in hydrogen fuel cells so that the federal funding can go farther towards implementation of a hydrogen economy. Senator Dorgan’s bill has bipartisan support, as well as the backing of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, Methanol Institute, and major fuel cell organizations, automobile manufacturers, and energy companies across the country.


In his keynote address, U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka (Dem., Hawaii) said he was "optimistic that, with enthusiasm and renewed attention to hydrogen as an energy carrier, we will have hydrogen legislation enacted this year."

Senator Akaka is also a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He has worked hard to reauthorize the Hydrogen Future Act and has included legislation to reauthorize the HFA as a part of the comprehensive energy policy bill considered in the 107th Congress. In his keynote address, Senator Akaka emphasized the importance of building partnerships among the government, industry, and research organizations to promote awareness and adequate funding. The Senator said he was “optimistic that, with enthusiasm and renewed attention to hydrogen as a energy carrier, we will have hydrogen legislation enacted this year.”

Congressman John Peterson’s keynote address was just as uplifting. He put hydrogen on the same pedestal as the industrial and computer revolutions. “With proper investment,” he said, “hydrogen has the potential to be a leading source of clean, efficient energy that could revolutionize our transportation system and significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil.” The Congressman went on to say that he is “excited that the President has made hydrogen research a top priority,” and he looks forward to “working with the administration to ensure that hydrogen research receives the proper funding and becomes a viable, clean source of energy for our nation’s future.”

The NHA also was honored that Dennis Campbell, CEO of Ballard Power Systems; Larry Burns, VP-R&D Planning at General Motors; Bernard Bulkin, Chief Scientist at BP; Hank Habicht, CEO of the Global Environment and Technology Foundation; and Stan Ovshinsky, CEO of Energy Conversion Devices, all accepted invitations to deliver keynote addresses as well.

The 14th Annual Conference had a lot of firsts. It was the first Annual Conference to top 600 participants. It was the first Annual Conference that hosted the Energy Secretary. This year was also the first year the NHA contracted with NHA Small Business member Hydrogen Expo USA to run the exhibition portion of the conference. As a result, the NHA saw the largest number of exhibitors ever, including NHA members Air Products and Chemicals, BP, ChevronTexaco, Ford Motor Company, Gas Technology Institute, Hydrogen Expo USA, Millennium Cell, Proton Energy Systems, QuestAir Technologies, Shell Hydrogen, Stuart Energy Systems, Texaco Ovonic Fuel Cell Company, and the U.S. Department of Energy. Ford Motor Company also exhibited two hydrogen fuel cell vehicles: the Focus and the futuristic Model U concept car.

The flourishing Poster Session had the largest number of poster presentations ever. NHA members that displayed include Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, North of England Inward Investment Agency, Sandia National Laboratories, Underwriters Laboratories, and Ztek Corporation.

The NHA’s Third Annual Job Fair was held on March 4 with its highest turnout: more than 60 participants. Representatives from NHA Members—including Air Products and Chemicals, ChevronTexaco, General Motors, and Sentech—were on hand to discuss the role of hydrogen and fuel cell technology in their work and answer questions from the crowd of primarily college level students.

The NHA was proud to colocate the Annual Conference with NHA Sustaining member Air Product and Chemicals’ KnowH2ow® Workshop. Air Products is a world leader in supplying industrial hydrogen. Over the years, the company has built an impressive safety record. The workshops were designed to pass this information onto all participants who are interested in learning more about hydrogen. A complete summary of the events that took place during the workshop may be found in the March 2003 edition of the Hydrogen Safety Report online at www.HydrogenSafety.info.

The NHA’s record setting attendance this year is only the beginning. We hope to build on the success of this year’s conference with the 15th Annual U.S. Hydrogen Conference and Hydrogen Expo USA. Please mark your calendar for April 27-30, 2004, and join us at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, California [U.S.A.], as we build upon our chosen theme, “Hydrogen: A Clean Energy Choice.” We hope to see you there.  ©2003. All Rights Reserved. A Publication of the National Hydrogen Association.
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