The United States Congress has restored the 30 percent investment tax credit for fuel cell power generation and forklifts, extending it through 2022, with a reduction in the final two years. The credit would be 26 percent in 2021 and 22 percent in 2022. This brings the fuel cell incentive in line with incentives for other advanced and renewable energy technologies.
The tax credit was a significant factor for the fuel cell industry. Companies said that its lapse on Dec. 31, 2016, had materially affected their business, although significant sales continued in 2017. Congress restored it effective Jan. 1, 2017, so there will be a windfall for people who purchased systems in 2017, in addition to a boost for buyers going forward. In an odd turn of events, Congress also approved a one-year retroactive credit for fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen infrastructure purchased or installed in 2017, providing a windfall for early adopters.
President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for the vehicle-related fuel cell and hydrogen program is USD 58 million for fiscal year 2019. The president’s proposal has little practical effect given recent congressional actions, but it does reflect the administration’s view that the program – like all renewable energy and energy efficiency programs – should be scaled back and that the focus should be on long-term research. This shift is certainly reflected in recent presentations by Department of Energy staff.
There is still no nominee to be Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, another sign of the government’s priorities. But it has been reported that Scott Pruitt, who heads the Environmental Protection Agency, would visit a hydrogen generation facility during a planned trip to Japan. No doubt the visit was included at the urging of the Japanese. Nevertheless, it may have some impact.
Written by Robert “Bob” Rose