Expert Voices

Fuel-cell tech, infrastructure on the rise with nationwide investment

 Linda Meleo Councillor for Mobility of Rome driving a hydrogen car in Campidoglio on December 9, 2017, in Rome, Italy.
Councillor for Mobility of Rome Linda Meleo driving a fuel-cell car on December 9, 2017, in Rome, Italy. Photo: Stefano Montesi/Corbis via Getty Images

In the past decade, costs of fuel cells have fallen by 60% and costs of electrolyzers — a crucial component in hydrogen-fuel production — by 80%, according to a report released last month by the Department of Energy's Fuel Cell Technology Office (FCTO). The report affirms that, despite significant hurdles, hydrogen and fuel cells will play a growing role in the decade to come.

Why it matters: The potential for fuel cells and hydrogen energy includes increasing the efficiency of national power generation, providing low-carbon energy sources for light- and heavy-duty transportation, and reducing the carbon intensity of industrial facilities such as refineries and steel mills. These are functions that are difficult to decarbonize with only electric-based renewables (e.g., wind and solar) and together account for nearly 80% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.