Updated 12 months ago
Florida Hydrogen Business Partnership. Energy experts in the public and private sector hope that the work of a task force, launched in April 2004, will establish Florida as a hydrogen business center. The group's members include representatives from 21 private-sector businesses, including the state's major electric utilities (FPL Group, Progress Energy Florida, Tampa Electric, Gulf Power), oil companies (BP America, ChevronTexaco, Shell Hydrogen), major fuel cell companies (Ballard Power Systems, Siemens Power Generation, Plug Power), hydrogen providers (Praxair), companies with hydrogen or fuel cell products (Ener1, DynEco, Apollo Energy), Walt Disney World and others.
In March, the partnership issued a white paper on what it calls an "accelerated commercialization strategy" for hydrogen technologies that are already commercially available and those that are in the precommercialization or demonstration stage.
The strategies include:
Streamlining state and local procurement of hydrogen technologies
A one-stop hydrogen-siting program
Incentives for utilities to invest in hydrogen technologies
Tax credits for precommercialization hydrogen technology companies that want to locate or expand in Florida
Partial government funding of hydrogen demonstration projects
Acquisition of a more diversified group of demonstration projects that could show the public how a hydrogen economy would work in terms of powering vehicles, homes and businesses.
Ford Motor, ChevronTexaco, BP America and Florida. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has two high-profile demonstration projects using Ford vehicles. The state is Ford's first customer for 12-passenger shuttle buses that use hydrogen in an internal combustion engine. The buses, which will shuttle rental car customers at Orlando International Airport, have a range of 150 miles and produce almost no emissions -- not quite the zero emissions of a fuel cell vehicle but a significant reduction from a normal gas- or diesel-powered bus. "This is an interim step," says Allan F. Bedwell, Florida DEP deputy secretary for regulatory programs and energy. The state is paying $250,000 to lease eight buses for two years, with a possible extension to a third year. At the end of the project, the vehicles will be returned to Ford.
Florida, in partnership with ChevronTexaco, broke ground on the state's first hydrogen fueling station in early 2005. Located on Progress Energy property in Orlando, the station is expected to be completed in 2006.
The second Ford project in Florida will use Ford Focus hydrogen fuel cell cars. In 2004, Ford and BP America selected Florida as one of only three sites nationwide to demonstrate the cars. The five vehicles, delivered in late September, will be used over a three-year period by Florida DEP park rangers at Wekiwa Springs Park north of Orlando and by Progress Energy in the Orlando area. The cars produce no harmful emissions and get the equivalent of 49 miles per gallon in the city and 54 on the highway, says Greg Frenette, manager of the Ford Focus FCV Demo Fleet. To fuel the cars in Orlando, BP America will build a hydrogen filling station on a second Progress Energy property in the Orlando area.
The Florida Solar Energy Center was selected in 2004 by the U.S. Department of Energy as the lead partner in setting up hydrogen technology learning centers. The $750,000 contract funds a pilot program for four H2USA centers to educate students, government officials, industry and the general public. The centers will be located at the University of California at Davis, San Diego's Miramar College, the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and the Florida solar center's facility in Cocoa.