I'm back from the Fall 2011 U.S. DOE Fuel Cells Technology (FCT) Water Electrolysis Working Group Meeting. Industry, the National Renewable Energy Lab, and DOE participated. The aim of the Water Electrolysis Working Group, inaugurated in May 2007, is to bring industry, academia, and national laboratories together to overcome the technical barriers to commercializing electrolysis technology for the production of hydrogen for transportation and industrial use.
In this 2-day meeting, the biggest news we were presented with were the changes in DOE's assumptions that have gone into updating Version 2.1.3 of the H2A (which stands for Hydrogen Analysis) program to get the all-new new H2A Version 3. (H2A is an Excel spreadsheet that is intended to allow the economics of various advanced hydrogen technologies to be fairly compared, through use of consistent, reasonable assumptions.) The big news on H2A is how with the switch from 5,000 psig to 10,000 psig hydrogen, compression, storage, and dispensing (CSD) costs have markedly increased. What was previously $1.82/GGE (gallon of gasoline equivalent) for 5,000 psig CSD is now $3.23/GGE for 10,000 psig! This significant increase in CSD costs is making it difficult for all hydrogen production pathways to match the energy cost of gasoline. A recommendation of the Working Group was to investigate the economic benefit of electrolytically generating hydrogen at a significant pressure, thereby potentially decreasing the corresponding CSD costs, and reducing the delivered cost of hydrogen.
I was able to find public versions of the Interim U.S. DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Program Multi-Year Research, Development and Demonstration Plan that were presented at the meeting:
As a footnote for the plan, the DOE says:
This document is currently being updated. The existing document on the Web shows the previous name of the Program within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) the Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Technologies Program. The Program's name was changed to the Fuel Cell Technologies Program in 2009. Furthermore, the DOE-wide program formerly known as the DOE Hydrogen Program (which integrates hydrogen and fuel cell activities in the Offices of EERE, Science, Fossil Energy, and Nuclear Energy) has also been changed, to the DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program.
Whew! That's a mouthful!