FY 2015 Proposed DOE Budget for Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technologies

Mar 05, 2014

Fuel Cells 2000 attended the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Budget FY 2015 budget rollout yesterday. The good news is that Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Program budget was not cut and, in fact, received an increase over the enacted 2014 budget - albeit quite by a quite small amount ($55,000).

Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Technologies

FY 2015 Proposed Budget (dollars in thousands)

FY 2013 Current

FY 2014 Enacted

FY 2015 Request

Fuel Cell R&D

$41,266

$33,383

$33,000

Hydrogen Fuel R&D

$31,681

$36,545

$36,283

Manufacturing R&D

$1,899

$3,000

$3,000

Systems Analysis

$2,838

$3,000

$3,000

Technology Validation

$8,514

$6,000

$6,000

Safety, Codes & Standards

$6,808

$7,000

$7,000

Market Transformation

$2,838

$3,000

$3,000

NREL Site-Wide Facility Support

$0

$1,000

$1,700

Total, Fuel Cell Technologies

$95,844

$92,928

$92,983

Of the overall 2015 proposed budget, the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies program budget (~$93 million) comprises just 0.04% of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) office’s total budget ($2.317 billion).

The 2015 budget proposal trend is for increases to EERE programs over the FY 2014 enacted budget, with a few increases running over 30%. Some programs also saw 2015 proposed budget increases over the FY 2013 current budget. For example:

(Dollars in thousands)

FY 2013 Current

FY 2014 Enacted

FY 2015 Request

FY 2015 vs. FY 2014

$

%

Solar Energy

$269,050

$257, 058

$282, 300

+ $25,242

+ 9.8%

Wind Energy

$86,129

$88,126

$115,000

+ $26,874

+ 30.5%

Geothermal Technology

$35.025

$45,775

$61,500

+ $15,725

+ 34.4%

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies

$95,844

$92,928

$92,983

+ $55

+ 0.1%

However, while the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies Program FY 2015 request is higher than the FY 2014 budget (by just 0.1%, or $55,000), the program’s funding is $2.861 million lower than the FY 2013 current budget.

Historically, DOE has funded fuel cell and hydrogen projects through other offices and programs, such as the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which in December 2013, announced up to $30 million for a new program, the Reliable Electricity Based on Electrochemical Systems (REBELS) program, to develop intermediate-temperature fuel cells through innovative designs, fuel activation approaches, and low-cost materials to facilitate widespread distributed power generation.  REBELS projects will also explore multi-functional fuel cell systems that can store energy like a battery or use electricity to convert natural gas to liquids.  The ARPA-E budget request for FY 2015 is $325 million and in FY 2014, the program received $280 million.

The Office of Fossil Energy supports the Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance program, which focuses on solid oxide RD&D, but for the past few years, that program has been on the chopping block, with funds eliminated to zero. Luckily, Congress has reinstated SECA funding to $25 million for the past few years, so we hope that will be the case again for this budget. In the past, Congress has also reinstated funds for fuel cell car research.

Other areas where fuel cells and hydrogen might be able to compete for funding include Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, which funds programs in Energy Storage, Smart Grid Research and Development and Clean Energy Transmission and Reliability, although it may take some advocacy and outreach to educate stakeholders on how fuel cells and hydrogen fit into these categories.

These numbers are all just temporary and Congress has the final say – fuel cells thankfully enjoy bi-partisan support in Congress, due to the diverse footprint of where the industry is located around the country and where installations and customers reside as well. Please call or write your representative to have them continue support for fuel cell and hydrogen funding, especially to restore the SECA program.




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