Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 24, 2014

Fuel Cells (Still) on the Rise

Though often scorned because they haven’t materialized as the energy-cure-all they were supposed to be, fuel cells have been getting a lot of recent attention, both as a power source for vehicles and for use in stationary backup power generation.

The California Energy Commission voted last week to spend about $50 million on 28 new public hydrogen refueling stations and one mobile refueler by the end of 2015.

“California is rolling out the red carpet for Californians who choose these ultra-clean, hydrogen powered electric cars and for the companies that make them,” Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols, said in a statement.

“These private-public partnerships to build dozens of hydrogen fueling stations set the stage for hydrogen fuel cell electric cars to become commonplace on our streets and provide a new generation of long-range zero-emission vehicles for California consumers.”

Toyota, which is a partner in 19 of the California stations, is getting set to roll out its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in Japan next year, which is expected to be called the Mirai and will retail for $69,000, Bloomberg reports, a price that will be made more palatable with a $20,000 government subsidy.

Hyundai began leasing a fuel cell Tucson model in June and Honda is expected to reenter the fuel cell market in a couple years after retiring its FCX Clarity.

It has been a volatile year for fuel cell developers, but shares in several companies have increased in value 50 to 1400 percent, Reuters reports. Canada’s Hydrogenics Corp., which makes fuel cells for power backup systems, expects to post its first-ever profit this year, the news outlet said.

Last month General Electric reported a technological breakthrough to increase the efficiency of stationary fuel cells using a spray coating technique.

 

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