Energy Party: Mayor Bob says don’t forget hydrogen

My latest Energy Party column has been well received, but a common complaint is that not EVERY plank of the platform was mentioned or elaborated upon. This from Mayor Bob Coble of Columbia:

Brad you should add a plank in your Energy Party Platform calling for research and production of hydrogen energy including hydrogen fuel cells. I know you wrote in your Sunday column that a higher gas tax after 9-11 could have been used to accelerate "…the development of hydrogen, solar, wind, clean coal, methanol-from-coal, electric cars, mass transit…" but alternate energy should be a major part of your platform.

On July 14th the Board of the National Hydrogen Association will meet in Columbia in preparation for their convention in March, which will bring to Columbia the international hydrogen and fuel cell industry’s largest companies.  Becoming part of the hydrogen economy is an important economic strategy for Columbia and South Carolina.  In 2008, we will build the first public hydrogen fueling station in the Southeast.  Millennium Cell, a world leader in hydrogen battery technology, is moving a subsidiary company, Gecko Technologies, to Columbia.  USC has the nation’s only National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Fuel Cells.  The Savannah River National Lab and Clemson’s International Center for Automotive Research are centers for hydrogen research.

Every facet of society stands to be impacted by hydrogen generated energy. A major source of global warming could disappear as well as America’s reliance on foreign oil.  Our strategy is to see that Columbia is the site for much of the commercialization of the hydrogen economy. 

Additionally, Innovista, which of course will promote a number of different areas of research, will be Columbia’s greatest opportunity to create jobs and increase our per capita income. According to a recent survey, 90% of City residents support the research campus and these efforts. The Association of University Technology Managers recently ranked USC number 11 out of 114 public universities in the number of start-up businesses created.

Finally, we are trying to connect our citizen to the knowledge economy. Over 8,000 students graduate from Columbia institutions of higher education each year.  The Columbia Talent Magnet project is designed to keep these bright minds in the Columbia region by connecting them to existing community initiatives. Also, the USC Columbia Technology Incubator has assisted 63 companies and created 554 new jobs including 142 minority and female jobs. 

The Energy Party should aggressively promote all alternate forms of energy particularly hydrogen.

Of course, hydrogen has been mentioned in earlier Energy Party documents, such as this original column. An excerpt:

Another is a Manhattan project (or Apollo Project, or insert your favorite 20th century Herculean national initiative name) to develop clean, alternative energy. South Carolina can do hydrogen, Iowa can do bio, and the politicians who will freak out about all this can supply the wind power….

16 thoughts on “Energy Party: Mayor Bob says don’t forget hydrogen

  1. Lee Muller

    Bob Coble doesn’t know or care anything about hydrogen, except for funneling tax money into Columbia for research. Whether it results in anything is irrelevant to Coble and the development hustlers. Next year, they’ll have another hustle.

  2. Karen McLeod

    We need to pursue all alternative sources actively, and really push to develop as many as are feasible.

  3. Lee Muller

    “We” who? Don’t ask me to fund your salary for a risky, dead-end research project.
    If a hydrogen or fuel cell or electric car is developed, it will be by someone with more interest in it than just a few years of funding for their salary. It will be Exxon, GE, GM, Union Carbide, someone with a profit motive and accountability for progress.

  4. s

    well, it is obvious that we don’t have a free market for transportation fuels
    so it is our Government responsibility to arrange for one:
    flex-fuel standard that will provide for methanol is the answer
    the rest will be done by free market
    God Bless America

  5. Karen McLeod

    I wish I had more faith in our current “energy” (read petroleum based) and car companies, but they have had the chance for years to pour some money into hard research, and have instead gone out of the way to increase our dependency on oil, while meanwhile mesmerizing most people with bigger and faster. What a crock! If they had had any vision past the next auto show, we wouldn’t be in a crunch now. But then if the public had not been willingly seduced into bigger and faster we might not be so deeply immersed in this problem.

  6. Robbie

    If alternative energy is the wave of the future, private capital will invest (and make money) off of it. If it isn’t, we the people should not pay for it. Anyone here remember Air South? Bet you do if you either own property or a business in Richland or Lexington Counties. The automakers will either build what the people want or find themselves in the automotive history manual, somewhere between AMC and Studebaker.

  7. s

    we should not fall for just CONSERVATION
    because it will just effectively stop our dynamic in life, including economics of course
    The best we could do with CONSERVATION is what Japan achieved already: 4 times more energy efficiency as a society then a US
    But it means that OIL and NATURAL GAS will remain a strategic weapon in the hands of the enemy
    And our enemy already put the World as a whole in a situation when poor will starve and rich will become poor
    USA remains one of the least regulated societies meaning the least socialistic compared to the rest of the World
    But even here in US we have to admit if we do not want to fool ourselves that we hardly have ANY free market in mostly all major industries energy including
    And there are powerful interests behind this setup. We all know it.
    It was not so bad for a while until the enemy launched this current offense on us, the USA:
    combined with
    -deterioration of world real estate market, -world credit market,
    -disruption of many commodities supplies through the use of military force all around the world
    this shift of world power may lead to the temptation to attack us on our home grounds as it was at 9-11.
    But next time chances are we going to suffer irreversible damage to our Republic and massive loss of population
    From strategic point of view if say
    -the war will start in the Persian Gulf region
    – the oil supply disruption will follow, -Americans will face shortages of gasoline, -current elections may become a crucial destabilizing factor
    it is going to be very volnurable time for our national defence situation.
    What are we going to do THEN? Or what do we have to do now?
    It is getting there as we speak((

  8. L.R. Gardner

    At the moment the only abundant source of hydrogen for use in fuel cells is the hydrogen that is bound to carbon in oil and natural gas. As a result, the proposed hydrogen economy is presently based on fossil fuels and is thus subject to the same limitations of supply and environmental disruption as coal, oil and natural gas. There are claims that hydrogen fuel cells are more efficient and cleaner than the combustion of these fuels in ordinary engines but this depends on whether one extracts not only the energy associated with the hydrogen in natural gas but also the energy associated with the carbon. If the carbon energy is fully extracted, one still has the carbon dioxide problem to deal with. It is possible that plants and/or microbes might be engineered to produce hydrogen gas from water using the energy in sunlight. A hydrogen economy based on this process would merely be a form of solar energy and thus subject to the need for vast acreage and the fuel for food dilemma. In the long term the hydrogen economy will only be viable if nuclear energy is used to produce hydrogen from water by means of electrolysis. The hydrogen thus produced will not be a source of energy but merely a mechanism for delivering nuclear energy to motor vehicles.

  9. s

    There are different priorities in energy discourse.
    Number one is national security.
    From that perspective we have to limit oil and natural gas use in order to strip those commodities of its strategic value and stop our enemies in totalitarian states to get rich
    We have the largest coal reserves in the world. If we create a coal standards – we change the world to our benefit.
    It will last for several hundreds of years even if we use coal-to METHANOL process as a basis for transportation needs
    Forget about hydrogen- it is enemy desinformation.
    The only way fuel cell is feasable is what was demonstrated by NECAR 5 Fuel Cell Car
    where Methanol from the fuel tank is ydrogen is separated from the methanol by the system’s on-board reformer. It is the hydrogen that is the actual “fuel” of the fuel cell, allowing the cell to create electricity, which in turn powers the electric motor that moves the vehicle.
    educate yourself:

  10. Lee Muller

    After ignoring all the arguments we have been making against ethanol vehicle fuels, I see that Brad let a USC professor express some of the same objections on the Opinion page of today’s State. Maybe the truth is sinking in, even if he won’t admit it to us.

  11. Lee Muller

    In today’s edition of The State:
    “Columbia’s accounting is so tangled that city officials did not realize they have paid about $18 million more for health insurance and other costs in the last three years than was budgeted.”

  12. Miguel

    Instead of seeking a single solution, a portfolio of energy choices will emerge in different ways all over the world. In some areas solar might make more sense, in others, wind or hydropower, and nuclear or coal might be used elsewhere. Just as financial advisors recommend that people should diversify a financial portfolio, as a society, we should explore and develop a range of energy alternatives including wind, solar, hydro, and other alternatives – all can be used to support hydrogen production.
    As a representative of the Hydrogen Education Foundation, I am helping people understand and recognize that the transition to including hydrogen as an alternative fuel is a global endeavor. As the US considers energy alternatives, to remain economically competitive, hydrogen should be considered as a fuel. Iceland is on the verge of becoming the first country to be fully powered by hydrogen technologies. Other countries such as China, Japan, England, France and more are all actively pursuing the use of hydrogen for power supply and automotive fuel needs. In fact, attendees at both the Olympics in Bejing in 2008 and Vancouver in 2010 will be able to travel around the city on hydrogen fuel cell buses.
    Hydrogen’s versatility as an energy carrier, not an energy source, makes it accessible for use in different applications. Separate from the frequent emphasis on hydrogen cars, the reality is hydrogen can be used to power many applications. The next cell phone call you make could be powered by hydrogen since fuel cell power supplies support cell phone towers. The next time you shop at Wal-Mart the box of Oreo cookies and the new Blue Ray movie you purchase could be transported with a fuel cell forklift, or may have been driven across the country on a semi-truck using a hydrogen injection system.
    To learn more about the benefits of hydrogen, we invite everyone to please visit and ask us questions at


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