The DOE's new hydrogen car initiative won't get very far without electric utilities.
It was a "classic" publicity event-long on vision, but short on substance. There he was, the Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), Spencer Abraham, standing toe-to-toe with each of the heads of the "Motown Three." The big announcement, on Jan. 9, was that the DOE and the nation's carmakers would create a public-private partnership to promote hydrogen as a primary fuel for cars and trucks, as part of America's effort to reduce its dependence on foreign oil.
Beyond announcing this vision, he failed to mention how much his program would cost; he failed to say exactly how long it would take (except to say several decades); and, more importantly, he failed to define what infrastructure the government would develop to support hydrogen transportation.
Of course, when we think infrastructure, we think electric transmission, and many fuel cell experts feel that our transmission infrastructure could serve as the backbone for hydrogen supply. To my knowledge no utility CEOs were present at the event, pledging their support to make available their transmission infrastructure to this initiative, nor were they invited. Notwithstanding, many utility execs are dreaming of the possibilities.