April 25, 2012
As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil, the Energy Department today announced up to $2.5 million available this year to demonstrate and deploy fuel cell electric vehicles for transporting passenger baggage at major U.S. airports. The projects selected for funding will demonstrate first-generation, fuel cell powered baggage towing tractors under real-world operating conditions, and collect and analyze data to test their performance and cost-effectiveness. This funding, part of the Department’s commitment to U.S. leadership in advanced fuel cell research and development, will help industry bring advanced fuel cell technologies into emerging markets and provide airlines and airports with new choices for ground support operations that cut energy costs, air pollution, and petroleum use.
Although the majority of DOE fuel cell funding is for research and development, the Department has previously supported other early market applications, such as fuel cell forklifts and back-up power for telecommunications. After DOE catalyzed these early fuel cell applications, private financing has been used to deploy thousands of forklifts and back-up power devices. In addition, support for these early markets provides near-term manufacturing opportunities and experience that can be leveraged to inform more mainstream applications, such as light-duty vehicles, which can significantly reduce petroleum use.
The Department seeks applicants to demonstrate and test the performance and economic viability of advanced fuel cell systems for up to three years. The 50% cost-shared projects will supply information on fuel cell system operation and data on the economics of these vehicles to the Hydrogen Secure Data Center at the Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for analysis and comparison. Data will be collected from actual airport operations so that engineers and economic analysts can assess the technology’s performance, durability, and cost-effectiveness under the real-world conditions of commercial airports. Conclusions will be drawn from the data to evaluate the commercial viability of this fuel cell application, and the data will be shared with fuel cell manufacturers, helping to improve their designs and optimize overall performance and costs.
The Department plans to select up to three projects, which will leverage more than $2.5 million in additional funding from private and other sources. For more information, including application requirements and instructions, please visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange website.
The Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Find out more about EERE’s support of research, development and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.