For those understandably confused about whether the federal government is advancing or retreating from supporting hydrogen fuel-cell transportation technologies, it looks like the government is now in its advancing stage.

The US Department of Energy is considering sponsoring what it calls an "H-Prize" competition that would find quicker ways to develop viable home-based hydrogen refueling stations. Such stations would then be developed for single-family or multi-family dwellings, with prizes given out for what the DOE categorizes as "production, storage, distribution, utilization, and prototypes and transformational technologies." The DOE, which didn't give many details on when and how much prize money will be doled out, appears to be getting ready for the hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles that a number of the world's largest automakers are planning to debut by 2015.

The good news, of course is that there's plenty of room for improvement in the hydrogen-station deployment front. Today, there are 55 hydrogen refueling stations in the US, according to DOE figures, while Fuel Cell Today estimated last month that just 27 stations were installed globally in 2012. Read below for the basics on the H-Prize.
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Request for Home Hydrogen Refueling Systems and Potential H-Prize Topics Issued

April 23, 2013

The U.S. Department of Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Office has issued a Request for Information seeking feedback from stakeholders about a potential H-Prize competition involving home hydrogen refueling systems. These systems would provide supplemental hydrogen for vehicle fueling at single- or multi-family dwellings, using feedstocks commonly delivered to most residences (e.g., electricity and natural gas). Information regarding individual components of the systems are of interest, but responses regarding complete systems (including the hydrogen generation technology and the components required for refueling, including compression and filling equipment) are of particular interest.

About the H-Prize
The H-Prize, enacted by Congress, authorized the Secretary of Energy to create a program to competitively award cash prizes that will advance the commercial application of hydrogen energy technologies by dramatizing and incentivizing accelerated research. The H-Prize was originally established by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, in Sec. 654.

There are several H-Prize categories, including production, storage, distribution, utilization, and prototypes and transformational technologies.

The H-Prize is managed by the Fuel Cell Technologies Program in the U.S. Department of Energy. DOE is the lead Federal agency for directing activities in hydrogen and fuel cell R&D, and the FCT Program is responsible for coordinating activities. It is designed to help the U.S. achieve a diverse, secure and emissions-free energy future by improving efficiency, reducing oil imports and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Hydrogen Education Foundation, H-Prize administrator, promotes clean hydrogen energy technologies through student scholarships, innovative national competitions, and educational programs to encourage environmental stewardship, improve energy security, and create green jobs. The HEF objectives are to:

-create a pilot award process
-organize and manage a comprehensive fund raising program to leverage Federal funding
-deploy H-Prize funds through fair and open competition
-focus on critical technical challenges

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