Saturday, November 30, 2013

$200 million hydrogen highway probably won't work and is a good idea

Delayed blogging here, but thought I'd call out an initiative to fund $20 million annually for a decade to create hydrogen fueling stations in California. This should create 100 new fueling stations - currently the state has nine that are open to the public.

Maybe I'm being too skeptical, but electric vehicles have a huge leg up on hydrogen and still confront an enormous challenge getting an adequate infrastructure in place, so I have strong doubts about whether this will work. Still, they should try it. Maybe the range advantages of hydrogen will help it catch up with or complement electric vehicles. A price of $20 million annually for something that has enough of a chance to be beneficial is worth it.

Absent the potential fraud issue, Solyndra represented a similar, reasonable investment. It didn't work because the technology costs didn't work as expected. You need to spread your bets when you're dealing with a difficult investment. Other bets, like with Tesla, seem to be going well.