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Open Access Publications from the University of California

California 's Hydrogen Highway: The Case for a Clean Energy Science and Technology Initiative


Thank you for this opportunity to speak on such an important matter. We are at an important cusp of history. Should we pursue the creation of a hydrogen economy, and if so how do we proceed? That is the central question before us. A careful, balanced analysis would conclude that uncertainty is still too great along too many dimensions to arrive at a definitive conclusion. That indeed, was the finding of the just-published National Academies report.

But that National Academies report also concluded that the hydrogen economy was highly compelling -– that “A transition to hydrogen … could fundamentally transform the US energy system, creating opportunities to increase energy security through the use of a variety of domestic energy sources for hydrogen production while reducing environmental impacts, including atmospheric CO2 emissions and criteria pollutants.” It called for an expansion in hydrogen R&D to create the opportunity to one day realize this


My own personal conclusion, based on over two decades of research on alternative fuels and energy policy -- including the past 1½ years on that National Academies committee which examined exactly these questions -- is somewhat more ambitious. I have come to

believe the following: even more initiative is appropriate and desirable, even broader benefits will likely result, and California is well positioned to be the international leader

in moving toward hydrogen. The underlying premise of my conclusion is that hydrogen potentially provides far greater societal benefits than any other major long term option under serious consideration, namely battery vehicles and cellulosic ethanol.

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