|California Fuel Cell Partnership|
On Monday, March 10, RITA Administrator Paul R. Brubaker hosted Hydrogen Drive 2008 in Sacramento, California. The event highlighted the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) commitment to a clean transportation future and to leading edge technologies like hydrogen fuel cells that can make that future a reality.
The event was held at the California Fuel Cell Partnershipa collaboration of 33 organizations, including auto manufacturers, energy providers, fuel cell technology companies, and government agencies working together to advance the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles. Hydrogen and fuel cell vehicle technology are a central part of a long-term strategy for air quality, climate protection, and energy diversity. Hydrogen Drive 2008 was attended by representatives from federal, state, and local government; industry; and academia. RITA hosted the hands-on event at which invited guests from around the country had a chance to ride AC Transit's fuel cell bus, drive fuel cell vehicles, learn how to fuel a car with hydrogen at a station in West Sacramento, and strategize about how to advance the deployment and commercialization of hydrogen vehicles and infrastructure.
This event came at a time when gasoline prices in the United States had reached an all-time high.
"We're bringing together some of the best minds in the country to figure out how we jumpstart the Hydrogen Economy," said Administrator Brubaker. "Now is the time to make it a viable technology."
Cars that use fuel cells rely on hydrogen to run, and produce water as exhaust. "The vehicles are now here," Brubaker explained. "Now the long pole in the tent from our perspective is really the fueling infrastructure." Since 2003, the federal government has pumped about $1.2 billion into fuel cell technology. There are currently 24 hydrogen fueling stations in the state of California, with 10 more planned.
Shad Balch, a General Motors spokesman, said there are approximately 100 Equinox fuel cell vehicles on the road right now in Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C. "They're in the hands of the average, everyday driver," he said. "We're loaning them in return for their candid feedback."
Brubaker reported that U.S. automakers have "stepped up to the plate and spent billions of dollars developing these vehicles." He said the goal now is to "find a way to jumpstart the deployment of the infrastructure."