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Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: First Report
To integrate the planning, budgeting, and management of the many DOE programs constituting the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) issued the Hydrogen Posture Plan in February 2004 (DOE, 2004a). The plan describes DOE’s intended role in hydrogen energy R&D and its pursuit of an accelerated path to the deployment of hydrogen fuel cells, and the associated infrastructure. Within DOE, a working group was established with representatives from the Offices of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; Fossil Energy; Nuclear Energy, Science, and Technology; Science; Management, Budget, and Evaluation/chief financial officer; and Policy and International Affairs (in an oversight capacity). While the broader management of many of these DOE program activities lies beyond the statement of task for the committee, it is important to note that the planning, budgeting, execution, evaluation, and reporting of the government’s hydrogen-related programs be well coordinated and integrated.
The committee finds that, while there has been commendable progress in managing the various transportation-related hydrogen activities across DOE, further improvements are needed. The committee identified two areas that need special attention: (1) carbon capture and sequestration and (2) basic energy research. The cost-effective, large-scale production of hydrogen may require that coal be the primary energy source. Carbon capture and sequestration would then be essential to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. The potential of carbon sequestration to enable hydrogen production appears to play only a minor role in the current work on capture and sequestration (see Chapter 4).
DOE’s various presentations to the committee indicated a strong focus on technology development and technology demonstration. It was also apparent that new technologies are likely to be required in hydrogen storage, fuel cell membranes, and electrodes. The committee encourages DOE to ensure that its Basic Energy Sciences Division in the Office of Science is appropriately involved in fundamental research critical to the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership.
Congressionally Directed Funding
The committee’s review of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership found that in certain program areas, congressionally directed activities (earmarking) of funds had a serious negative impact on the program. Of concern to the committee is the allocation by Congress of significant funds to specific organizations for activities that will contribute little to achieving the Partnership’s objectives. Although DOE has some discretion over the allocation of funds not earmarked, over the past 2 years, earmarking has effectively removed about $80 million from the funding for planned programs. This has negatively impacted projects in safety, the production of hydrogen from fossil fuel and renewable energy sources, and hydrogen storage. One possible result is that not enough knowledge and technology will be available by 2015, when commercial feasibility will be assessed,