(Photo: Liquid Library)
Hydrogen is important to Florida because:
Environmental concerns are especially important to Florida with an economy so strongly dependent on tourism and transportation fuel. The need for future fuel alternatives and clean air is a must for our state.
The motor vehicle numbers for Florida are staggering, with 7.4 million automobiles, 3.8 million trucks, and 43,000 buses on the state roads in 2002. These vehicles, plus those of our tourists, consume 7.4 billion gallons of gasoline and 1.2 billion gallons of diesel fuel each year. At $2.50 per gallon, this means that the state exports more than $20 billion each year for motor fuels. And because of the state's booming population and tourism growth, these numbers will continue to grow in the future.
Electric power generation presents another important consideration. Florida’s 2020 Commission Report noted that electric utilities have declared that 10,000 to 20,000 MW of new electric generating capacity will be required to meet Florida’s electric power needs by 2020. At the moment, the fuel of choice for producing that power is natural gas. Many utility managers do not believe natural gas resources are adequate to supply required quantities of fuel, let alone supply it at a competitive price. In the past, natural gas prices have risen and now are at approximately $6 to $7/million BTU (click here for a historical view of natural gas prices). For this reason, there are plans to import and burn coal and other heavy-hydrocarbons for generating electricity. Whether natural gas, heavy oil or coal are used all the power plants will increase local air pollution (sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulates) and generate huge quantities of greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide).
It is expected that these new power plants will be located in heavily populated areas to properly serve the load growth. Locating them in such areas adds to air quality concerns and significantly limits available options for the design and sitting of these plants.
|NASA Space Shuttle
Endeavor (Photo: NASA)
Florida’s universities have been conducting a NASA-funded ("Hydrogen Research at Florida Universities") research program to help maintain the state's position as the leader in space activities. The NASA program has been aimed at supporting their hydrogen-related space launch and aeronautical research activities. It is a partnership among seven Florida universities (Florida International University, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, University of West Florida, Florida A & M University, and the University of Florida) and the NASA Glenn Research Center and NASA Kennedy Space Center.