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Fuel Cell Technologies Office: 2015 Recap and the Year Ahead

January 13, 2016 - 3:22pm


Dear friends and supporters of the Energy Department’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office,

As 2016 begins, I’d like to thank all of you for your dedication and efforts in advancing hydrogen and fuel cell technologies during the past year. Let’s take a minute to reflect on our 2015 accomplishments and highlight some of our plans for 2016.

2015 has been a landmark year for the hydrogen and fuel cells industry!

Without a doubt, the most notable development was the launch of commercially available fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Hyundai is leasing its Tucson FCEVs and Toyota is selling and delivering its Mirai FCEVs, right on track with original plans for research and development (R&D) resulting in commercial decisions by the 2015 timeframe.

Our Program’s latest Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report shows:

  • Fuel cell industry sales of more than $2.2 billion in 2014
  • More than 50,000 fuel cells, totaling over 180 MW, shipped worldwide in 2014
  • Consistent 30% annual market growth in fuel cell shipments over the last few years

With so much U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-supported activity in the last year, only a few Fuel Cell Technologies Office highlights are summarized below. More can be seen in 1,000+ pages of our Annual Progress Report.

Programmatic Highlights

  • Tracked the impact of DOE funds showing 580 patents granted, 45 commercial technologies in the market, and 65 technologies that are projected to be commercial in three to five years—which, according to stakeholders, can all be tied back to DOE funding from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office over the years
  • Launched the $1 million H2 Refuel H-Prize for small-scale hydrogen generators
  • Issued more than $37 million for 27 new competitively selected projects to advance progress in hydrogen and fuel cells, including $10 million for innovative “incubator” projects
  • Held 10 workshop events and 15 webinars for stakeholders, and published numerous reports and proceedings
  • Continued our rigorous scientific and technical review of projects with 1,800 participants at the joint Annual Merit Review (AMR) and 370 experts providing more than 600 individual project reviews (the 2016 AMR will be June 6–10 in Washington, D.C.—save the date!)

Energy Secretary Moniz gave plenary remarks at the Washington Auto Show, highlighting national lab efforts in the 1970s that jumpstarted the global fuel cell industry. He also test drove the Toyota Mirai and Assistant Secretary Danielson test drove the Hyundai Tucson. DOE released more than 100 hydrogen and fuel cell news items to more than 12,000 people.

Research and Development

  • Demonstrated that laboratory state-of-the-art technology can achieve a modeled automotive fuel cell system cost of $53/kW when projected at 500,000 units/year ($60/kW at 100,000 units/year)—a 35% cost reduction since 2008
  • Developed innovative catalysts showing a threefold increase in intensity of mass activity in membrane electrode assembly (MEA) performance compared to conventional MEAs
  • Demonstrated a fourfold increase in durability since 2006 and launched the lab-led consortium project—Fuel Cell Consortium for Performance and Durability (FC-PAD)—to further advance progress in performance and durability
  • Increased the payload of hydrogen tube trailers by more than 40%, in comparison to their 2010 baseline, now reaping benefits for the compressed natural gas industry
  • Updated the high-volume cost projections for 700 bar compressed hydrogen storage systems to $15/kWh (a 12% reduction since last year) and launched HyMARC, a lab-led consortium project for future materials efforts in hydrogen storage: Hydrogen Materials—Advanced Research Consortium
  • Accelerated hydrogen production R&D, identifying more than 200 promising materials out of 1,000 screened for solar thermochemical hydrogen production
  • Developed innovative hydrogen sensor technology, now undergoing field trials
  • Developed quality control techniques to detect defects during manufacturing of fuel cell components, now being licensed for commercialization

Demonstration and Deployment

  • Continued independent technology validation of FCEVs on the road, bringing the total to 220 vehicles from six automakers and 6 million miles of driving with a solid track record of performance
  • Demonstrated durability of 3,900 hours, on track to meeting the 5,000-hour target
  • Launched the first hydrogen station in the United States to receive the seal of approval for commercial sale of hydrogen fuel
  • Deployed the world’s first fleet of zero emissions, hydrogen-powered airport ground support equipment (GSE) trucks with FedEx at the Memphis airport
  • Launched H2Tools, a best practices resource and a free, online national hydrogen safety training resource for emergency responders

DOE’s support of 1,600 early market fuel cell forklifts and backup power units has enabled more than 13,500 systems now being deployed or on order by industry without DOE funding, demonstrating true market transformation impact.

Analysis and Hydrogen Infrastructure


  • The Program continued its strong support for U.S. DRIVE, H2USA, several state partnerships (including the California Fuel Cell Partnership), industry (the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association), the Interagency Working Group, the International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE), and the International Energy Agency (IEA).
  • U.S. DRIVE’s Tech Teams continued their impressive technical progress and published key accomplishments.
  • H2USA increased its number of partners fourfold since its 2013 launch. The Program supported H2USA through numerous DOE and lab activities such as the H2FIRST project and developing the H2FAST online tool.
  • IPHE established an independent Secretariat and transitioned the Chair from Japan to France, with the United States as Vice Chair. Members convened in Italy and China and held key workshops, coordinating government activities across 17 countries and the European Commission.
  • IEA developed the first IEA Technology Roadmap: Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, with numerous contributions from the Program as well as experts worldwide.
  • DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee (HTAC) convened twice to assess progress, released its seventh annual report, and submitted its recommendations to the Secretary of Energy, providing valuable feedback implemented by the Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

Looking Ahead to 2016

As we move forward into 2016 and beyond, the Fuel Cell Technologies Office will continue its strong commitment to effective stewardship of taxpayer dollars and its mission to enable the widespread commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies as part of DOE’s portfolio addressing the energy, environmental, and economic security of the nation. With $100 million in fiscal year 2016 appropriations, the Program will strengthen its comprehensive, balanced portfolio of research, development, and demonstration to tackle both near- and long-term challenges in close partnership with stakeholders. Just a few of many plans include:

  • Launching new lab-led consortia projects on platinum-free catalysts and on renewable hydrogen, aligned with the President’s Materials Genome Initiative, in addition to adding industry and university partners to HyMARC and FC-PAD
  • Ramping up tech-to-market activities and accelerating national lab impact aligned with EERE’s National Laboratory Impact Initiative (examples include offering 50% cost share to users of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s world-class upgraded material characterization center for microscopy and materials diagnostics, small business vouchers, and Small Business Innovation Research)
  • Implementing our currently open Funding Opportunity Announcement for up to $35 million in new awards
  • Increasing emphasis on our new manufacturing and supply chain analysis projects, launching a supply chain database, and holding workshops to address supply chain issues
  • Continuing robust support for our safety, codes, and standards sub-program, all infrastructure activities (including H2FIRST, addressing metering and contamination challenges, and station financing scenarios), as well as technology validation/market transformation (including parcel delivery vans and range extenders), and analysis activities (including new sustainability analysis for hydrogen production pathways)
  • Coordinating across offices and agencies in areas of synergy including: carbon fiber, solar to fuels, the DOE-wide Grid Modernization Initiative to identify roles for hydrogen energy storage, interagency and deployment/fleet strategy activities in key regions, and enabling hydrogen fueling capabilities in the Washington D.C. area
  • Continuing to support key partnerships through the entire office, national laboratory, and funding recipient staff

Thank you again for your part in last year’s accomplishments and for your unwavering support of DOE’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office. This is a critical time for hydrogen and fuel cells, and for all of us if we are to reduce emissions and meet our climate goals. We need to keep up the momentum. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your feedback or ideas. We look forward to working with you in the coming year and wish you a healthy, happy, and productive 2016!

—On behalf of the entire Fuel Cell Technologies Office

Sunita Satyapal signature



Sunita Satyapal
Fuel Cell Technologies Office