The Basics

The political history of hydrogen


Fall: 1st energy (oil) crisis (wake of the Iranian Revolution)

US President Jimmy Carter ordered cessation of Iranian imports

oil price jumps from $3 to $10, Hawaii made the commitment to shift from fossil fuels to renewables.



Hawaii natural energy institute was created by the state legislature.

1st international conference on the hydrogen economy and founded the International Association for Hydrogen Energy

Patrick Takahashi and the institute put together a model for what they could do in the next 25 years for the shift:

There were 3 points in the model:

1. Electricity, air transportation, ground transportation

Since Hawii had an abundance of renewable energy sources, electricity was not a problem. For ground transportation, methanol was the answer. For avaiation, hydrogen since the energy per wight was the highest for hydrogen.



asked to work for Senator Spark Matsunaga (Democratic) in Washington D.C. (was a lawyer, no technical background some how thought hydrogen was the solution)


September 1979

Congressmen Chuck Grassley (Republicans) (R-Iowa) introduced H.R. 5399, to provide for hydrogen R&D.

Re-wrote legislation to add an aviation component and also added a section on citizen’s advisory board to report to both Congress and the US DOE.



wrote the first hydrogen bill, a 25 year plan for bipartisan support. (hydrogen not from nuclear power but solar) which ultimately became the Matsunaga Act.

When the Bill was written the budget for hydrogen was 0.

Eventually the bill passed, the interesting point in the Bill was to create an Hydrogen technical advisory panel (HTAP) for the Secretary of energy.

Advisory panel will report to two facets:

1. Department of energy
2. Congress

*No other panel (fossil, nuclear and solar)  reports to both the administration and congress (Hydrogen technical advisory panel)

Met 2 to 3 times a year to determine the policy of the country


September 1982

Bill (originally S.2964) introduced by Spark Matsunaga

Early to Middle 1980s:
hydrogen seeds were planted:



Hawaii State Legislature provided $50,000 for Patrick Takahashi to initiate a hydrogen R&D program.  Enabled small grants to initiate actual laboratory research in hydrogen.


May 1984

Hawaii welcomed the First International Symposium on Hydrogen Produced from Renewable Energy.

1986: Legislature provided an additional $100,000 specifically to bring a World Hydrogen Energy Conference (WHEC) to Hawaii.

*During these days there were no dollars actually available for hydrogen R&D. The U.S. Department of Energy Hydrogen Energy Coordinating Committee Annual Report summarizing hydrogen programs always showed a budget from $20 million to $30 million, but no one had access to it.  The Matsunaga Act had not yet been enacted.

Needed a hydrogen industry to create credibility for a hydrogen budget!!


Created a National Hydrogen Association at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, California: Industry group which also worked closely with congress and administration

Most important meeting Middle 1990s:
2 representatives from Japan to create the future of hydrogen funding for the US

One of the particiants, Dr. Watanabe (maybe moved to METI from Tokyo Institute of Techonology)

–  The budget created at this meeting passed administration and congress.

–  This started the hydrogen funding:  in about 2008 the hydrogen budget was bigger than the solar budget for US

Why hydrogen got so much initial funding? Everyone worked together ! republicans with Democrats, Congress with Administration, Industry was part of the package. The beginning has been established, where this will lead depends on the people.


April 15, 1990

Senator Spark Matsunaga passed away, Congressman Daniel Akaka appointed to take his seat.


November 15, 1990

finally signed and enacted!

When signed by Repubican President George Bush (the 41st) became know as the Spark M. Matsunaga Hydrogen Research, development and Demonstration Act of 1990.

*The initial 25 year plan… its been already about 30 years since then.

The hydrogen budget in 2005 was double the solar budget.



President George W. Bush announces State of the Union Address, a $1.2 billion hydrogen fuel initiative.



Energy Bill resotred the HTAP and added fuel cell to the title.



the US Secretray of energy reconfirmed HTAP to the Hydrogen and Fuel cell technical advisory committee.



Full Senate Appropriations Committee noted that virtually every program except hydrogen R&D suffered a reduction from the fiscal year of 2007.



The administration (White house) reduced request for all renewable energy program but maintained the hydrogen portion.

Energy efficiency and renewable energy budget: $500 million

Hydrogen budget: 228 million

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