Hydrogen Fuel Cells: A New Energy Future for the US
Posted on May 1, 2015
We’ve spoken previously about the potential for fuel-cell growth in developing countries like India, and there’s no doubt that hydrogen fuel cells could help lead those regions into a cleaner, more efficient future. It’s not just developing regions overseas that can best benefit from an amplified fuel-cell economy, however. The time is ripe for established world powers reliant upon traditional energy sources to change their ways, and according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office December 2014 State of the States report, the United States is on the precipice of such a change.
Fuel cells aren’t a new concept in the U.S.: NASA used them as a source for power on their Apollo missions back in the 1960’s. But because of the time it has taken to adapt fuel cell technology to consumer usability, hydrogen hasn’t been a viable option for American energy infrastructure. Until now.
“The United States is at the forefront of the fuel cell economy, and Intelligent Energy is perfectly poised to take advantage of the rapidly accelerating growth in the American fuel cell market,” confirmed Intelligent Energy’s Head of US Operations and Group Corporate Development Director Julian Hughes.
Intelligent Energy has been working with a private and public coalition called H2 USA started by the US Department of Energy devoted to a low-carbon future and promoting a hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure in the United States. Most notably,
increased sanctions and incentives have encouraged both public utilities and private companies to drastically reduce their emissions, and the fuel cells that Intelligent Energy offers have the scale to support and ultimately replace traditional infrastructure in the States.
Outside of these sanctions, there are several other reasons hydrogen fuel cells present an excellent energy alternative. Hydrogen fuel cell power is reliable: recent episodes of extreme weather in the United States, from hurricanes and tornados to blizzards, have time and again rendered antiquated power infrastructures belabored and blacked out, with masses of constituents left suffering in the cold and dark. Already, American power and utilities companies have begun incorporating hydrogen fuel cell power alongside traditional means of production, and stand only to increase that investment in the future.
Fuel cell adaptability is also appealing. Both in crisis scenarios and in everyday life, consumers’ lives have become increasingly mobile. The traditional grid just cannot completely support the energy needs of the always-on consumer. Who knows what the technology needs of future consumers will be? Whatever they are, we need to be ready with a portfolio of energy solutions. Moreover, all studies indicate that our lives are moving towards becoming only increasingly mobilised. (Don’t believe us? Just take a look at the offerings from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.) Portable, personal hydrogen fuel cell solutions like our Upp meet these needs and allow us all to live free from the grid and the emissions associated with it.
“Fuel cell growth in the US has the momentum, and it has the support. The Department of Energy has prioritised fuel cell development in the states, and even the American Department of Defense has taken an interest in utilising fuel cells in their military branches,” Hughes continued. Indeed, a recent report released on behalf of the US Department of Energy by RCNOS not only confirmed the currently escalating demand for fuel cells in the states, but also predicted that it will continue to rise at an annual growth rate of 23% through 2020.
The time for hydrogen fuel cells has arrived. Adoption, however, can’t just come from the UK. As Toyota president Akio Toyoda stated upon the release of all the company’s hydrogen fuel cell patents to the public, “[Hydrogen] needs to be a worldwide effort.”