“None of us can really imagine what the energy future is going to look like,” said Ramage. But the transition is sure to require public-private partnering. It also will require public incentives to buy hydrogen-powered vehicles, such as are in place for hybrid vehicles. And the incentives need to be large enough and sustained enough to get through the transition to widespread use of hydrogen.
A robust, ongoing program of research and development by both the public and private sectors could make progress on the hurdles hydrogen faces, Ramage said. To name just a few issues: Vehicle and fuel combinations need to be evaluated for their impact on enhancing energy security and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Details of the transition to hydrogen need to be studied. And strategies to accelerate the innovation process for the needed technologies need to be studied.