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In the early 1970s, concern over our growing dependence on imported petroleum, coupled with concerns about our deteriorating air quality due to emissions from combustion of fossil fuels, spurred the Federal government to act. The timeline below provides policy and programmatic highlights for federally supported hydrogen and fuel cell R&D over the last three decades.

Federal Support for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell R&D

2005 Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005
  • Directed Energy Secretary to "conduct a research and development program—in consultation with other federal agencies and the private sector—on technologies related to the production, purification, distribution, storage, and use of hydrogen energy, fuel cells, and related infrastructure."
2004 FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership Plan
  • Partnership plan for DOE, USCAR, and industry efforts to advance research and development of affordable hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and a national hydrogen infrastructure.
2003 President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative
  • President George W. Bush announced "$1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles."
2002 Founding Agreement for FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership
  • Partnership between DOE and USCAR to advance research for affordable hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
2001 National Energy Policy
  • Directed Energy Secretary to "develop next generation technology—including hydrogen."
1996 Hydrogen Future Act of 1996
  • Specified funding levels for Hydrogen Program.
  • Specified evaluation of integrating fuel cells with photovoltaic systems for hydrogen production or with systems for hydrogen production from solid waste via gasification.
1992 Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 1992
  • Directed Energy Secretary to "develop and implement a comprehensive program of research development, and demonstration of fuel cells and relate systems for transportation applications..."
1990 Spark M. Matsunaga Hydrogen Research, Development and Demonstration Act of 1990
  • Developed five-year management plan for hydrogen R&D.
  • Established Hydrogen Technical Advisory Panel (HTAP) to advise Secretary of Energy.
  • Transferred Hydrogen Program to US DOE.
1987 Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Program
  • Expanded to include fuel cell R&D activities.
1976 Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1976
  • Created to "encourage and support accelerated research into and development of electric and hybrid vehicle technologies..."
  • Authorized the Hydrogen Program (managed by National Science Foundation).
  • US DOE established the Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Program.
1977 US Department of Energy (US DOE) created.
  • Transferred AAPSP to US DOE.
1970s Advanced Automotive Propulsion System Program (AAPSP) created (USEPA)
  • Developed advanced propulsion alternatives to internal combustion engines and evaluated the performance of alternative fuels in vehicles.