terça-feira, 22 de julho de 2008

Would You Invest in Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology?

From now until 2023, hydrogen fuel cell technology needs $200 billion in order to become cost-competitive with gasoline, according to a study by the Committee on Assessment of Resource Needs for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies. (The committee's chair is Michael Ramage, retired from Exxon Mobil Research Engineering).

According to the study, the needed funds would come from two main sources:
Government: $55 billion total, spread out over the next 15 years, in terms of incentives and subsidies.
Private investment: $145 billion total, to build up infrastructure and technology over the next 15 years. Part of the problem with the cost viability of hydrogen fuel cell cars is that platinum is an important material in their production, and platinum prices are rising. However, with the right investments, hydrogen fuel cell technology could compete with gasoline technology in terms of price.Honda (HMC) is already releasing a hydrogen fuel cell car, but its market is rather limited, since the infrastructure to fuel such cars doesn't exist -- and the car is a bit on the expensive side.But why can't we invest in the infrastructure? The government portion is $55 billion over 15 years. If the government continues offering tax breaks and subsidies to Big Oil at the 2006 level of $9 billion a year, that totals $135 billion over the next 15 years. That money is going to an already-profitable industry. Would it be so bad to give less than half that amount to develop an industry that has the potential to be cleaner, cost less and help reduce our dependence on foreign oil?Of course, hydrogen fuel cell technology isn't the only solution. Our energy woes require a suite of solutions.

The study concludes that a portfolio of technologies -- including hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, improved efficiency of gasoline-powered vehicles, hybrids and use of biofuels -- 'has the potential to nearly eliminate oil demand from light-duty vehicles by the middle of this century, while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to less than 20% of current levels.

Would you invest in a company that invests in hydrogen fuel cell technology?


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