Argument: A hydrogen economy would require huge government investments

Issue Report: Hydrogen vehicles


Dr. Paul MacCready, chairman of Aerovironment in Monrovia and maker of the Impact, the prototype for General Motor’s EV1 – The biggest problem with the hydrogen economy is the cost. The hydrogen-fuel-cell approach got started by some enthusiasts who did studies without really understanding its economics and realities, and our government went along with it. If the United States focuses on the hydrogen-fuel-cell economy and actually puts the money into it that’s needed to generate the hydrogen without producing pollution, the cost will be just staggering. From a practical standpoint, our company’s real-world experience with currently available hydrogen fuel cells is that they hardly work at first and then take months to get operating properly. They’re incredibly complicated, which the field has not let people know about. People think fuel cells are simple–they’re not.[1]

The Argonne National Laboratory concluded that a version of the hydrogen infrastructure, using present technology, would cost approximately $500 billion dollars. This is beyond a reasonable government investment in an uncertain future technology.