The future of hydrogen vehicles is both promising and full of questions. Everyone from Nissan to Toyota to Mercedes-Benz (the F-125! concept is pictured) continues to work on the technology, but it still trails battery-electric powertrains in real-world sales and use. The good news for H2 advocates in America is that an increase in government funding for hydrogen vehicles was included in the Omnibus Appropriations bill that passed the U.S. Senate last week. The bill looks likely to get the President's approval when it lands on Obama's desk soon.

Sandy Thomas, a long-time proponent of hydrogen vehicles (he's the former president of H2Gen Innovations), sent out a message that, buried in the 1 trillion-dollar spending bill, is $104 million for the DOE's hydrogen and fuel cell budget through the end of September next year. He writes:

This is a remarkable outcome, since Secretary Chu requested only $100.45 million, and the House marked up the bill at only $91.5 million while the Senate came in at $98 million. Normally, the conference between the House and Senate will settle on a value that is the average of their two marks, or $94.7 million in this case. So the final $104 million is an increase of $9.3 million (9.8%) over the customary 50/50 split, and a $3.6 million (3.5%) increase over the Secretary's request. It is also a $6 million increase (6.1%) over the FY 2011 level of $98 million.

In comparison, funding for biomass, solar and wind were cut by 41 percent, 37 percent and 27 percent, respectively, Thomas writes.

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