Building a Hydrogen Economy in Virginia

As concern for energy security grows, so does the level of interest at the national and state levels. Fuel cells and hydrogen-sourced energy are regarded as viable long-range technologies that one day could alleviate the United States’ dependence on foreign oil, reduce harmful emissions, and create thousands of new jobs. Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have fuel cell or hydrogen legislation, technology demonstrations or other hydrogen initiatives in place or under consider¬ation today. Many are laying the groundwork for adoption of these technologies in regulations and energy standards. With a commitment of resources, Virginia has the potential to play a significant role in the building of a hydrogen economy in the United States.

This plan recommends actions to foster the development of a hydrogen economy in Virginia. A range of three levels of effort and commit¬ment is offered: 1. Commit significant resources 2. Leverage existing efforts and 3. Stay informed and maintain current level of effort. The recom-mendations have been developed by the Virginia Hydrogen Economy Roundtable (the Roundtable), a forum created in 2002 comprised of representatives from more than thirty energy and transportation related industries, federal and Virginia government agencies, Virginia academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations.

The following five actions are recommended as priorities to help focus Virginia’s continuing efforts to build a hydrogen economy:

    • Educate our future workforce, focusing on K-12 education
    • Leverage the research and development (R&D) potential of Virginia’s academic institutions
    • Invest in hydrogen demonstration projects with high visibility
    • Foster partnership building
    • Coordinate policies and incentives to drive the building of a hydrogen economy in Virginia

A range of options is offered for each of the first four action items and several possible approaches to coordinate policy setting and an incentives strategy are discussed:

Educating Virginia’s K-12 Students

    • Option 1: Commit Resources for the Education of K-12 Students
    • Option 2: Implement Pilot Hydrogen Curriculum and Teacher Training Program for Middle Schools
    • Option 3: Implement the Green Box Program in 6th Grade Classrooms

University Research &Development

    • Option 1: Create a Statewide Hydrogen R&D Consortium
    • Option 2: Universities Form Voluntary Partnerships
    • Option 3: Universities Continue Independent R&D Efforts

Demonstration Projects

    • Option 1: Develop a Hydrogen Highway Corridor
    • Option 2: Consider Discrete Demonstration Project Grants
    • Option 3: Pursue external funding opportunities with existing resources

Partnership Opportunities

    • Option 1: Create a Formalized Virginia Hydrogen Network
    • Option 2: Join Forces with Existing Regional Partnerships
    • Option 3: Support Partnerships upon Request

Policy Setting and Funding

    • Create a Hydrogen Policy Commission to coordinate policy setting, review hydrogen-related initiatives and establish a Hydrogen Demonstration Incentive Fund.

Creating an environment in Virginia in which hydrogen-focused economic development can thrive will require a commitment to pursuing these measures.

To read the report in its entirety, click here.

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