Remember when George W. Bush told us that hydrogen cars were coming? In his 2003 State of the Union address, Bush announced a major new initiative to research and develop the technology and bring us to our green automotive future. So what happened?
Well, there were always problems, the biggest of which is probably the lack of a national hydrogen transport and delivery infrastructure. The nice thing about electricity is that we already have an electrical grid. Granted, the grid is terribly antiquated, and we'll still have to build special charging stations to juice up electric cars. But you can add those stations bit by bit and gradually convince more and more people that it makes sense to buy an electric car. With hydrogen, you really have to have a major initiative funded by the government to the tune of tens of billions of dollars to get to the point where people are going to feel like they'll be able to fill up their cars pretty much wherever they go. Wired explains:
Mercedes says there are just 200 hydrogen fueling stations worldwide, so Linde, the company providing the hydrogen for the F-Cells, built a mobile fueling rig for the trip. California, which has seen its much-touted love affair with hydrogen wax and wane, has four public stations. Nineteen more are planned by the end of 2012. Clearly there is a long way to go, and even the most rudimentary infrastructure will cost billions. Advocates say we are — slowly — making progress...
Proponents concede the technology, and the infrastructure that would support it, will require huge government investment. But the federal government is backing off. President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget reduces funding for the Department of Energy hydrogen technology program by 40 percent, or almost $70 million. DOE says the cuts are being made "in order to focus on technologies deployable at large scale in the near-term."
Given the current appetite in Washington for funding large infrastructure projects, it's hard to see a national hydrogen network being built any time soon. On the other hand, some awesome nerd is developing (with a federal government grant) a "shockwave generator" engine that could cut auto emissions by 90 percent.