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Hydrogen: not if but when

Hydrogen: not if but when

Walking to work today, I saw a fuel-cell bus from a local transit authority, AC Transit, driving down the street. It was a demonstration vehicle, not working a regular line, but it made me think about how hydrogen-powered vehicles will become an unremarkable sight. Naysayers often muster arguments against fuel-cell vehicles, but the momentum is against them. All major carmakers have some kind of hydrogen/fuel-cell car in the works. For example, DaimlerChrysler is leasing 60 of its F-Cell cars to government and private groups around the world, including Tokyo, California, and Germany. Honda has been leasing its FCX fuel-cell vehicle to groups for testing over the past couple of years and is planning on putting its next-generation FCX into production by 2010. Ford, GM, and Toyota also have active hydrogen/fuel-cell programs.

But it's not just the carmakers. Major oil companies are also researching methods of hydrogen generation and distribution. BP is building two hydrogen-fueled power plants: a 350-megawatt plant in Scotland and a 500 megawatt-plant in California. Shell has hydrogen projects in Europe, North America, and Asia, while Chevron has built a demonstration hydrogen-fueling station in California. With this much research and investment by major companies, the momentum is going toward hydrogen.