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Stylized Text: Hydrogen Basics - Hydrogen and Florida.

Picture of Interstate traffic.
Interstate traffic
(Photo: Liquid Library)

Hydrogen is important to Florida because:

  • It is the superior alternative fuel
  • It can be produced from many feedstocks
  • It can be produced locally
  • It is important to Florida’s continuing space and space launch activities
  • It is an opportunity for the development of a high-technology industry and creation of high-tech jobs
  • It has minimal environmental consequences

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.


Alternative Fuel

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. 


Space and Space Launch

Picture of NASA Space Shuttle Endeavor
NASA Space Shuttle
Endeavor (Photo: NASA)
The space industry is vital to Florida’s economy with an estimated impact of $3 billion per year.  Florida is the site of the nation’s premier spaceport and home to the Space Shuttles at the NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and commercial and military spacecraft launched by the U.S. Air Force at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS).  Florida hopes these programs will lead the U.S. into the future or “next-generation” space vehicles. The fuel for these next-generation vehicles will in all likelihood be hydrogen.  Hydrogen technology development in Florida offers both expanded and future space launches and a golden opportunity for continuation of Florida’s space launch business – a future estimated to grow to $4 billion annually.

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.


High Technology Industry

Fostering economic growth and prosperity is the goal of all local, state and federal entities.  In a recent economic study, Florida was shown to be losing ground on its average annual wage as compared to the U.S. average.  This disturbing fact is due to the state's high reliance on the service industry for jobs and growth.  Tourism jobs have an average wage of $18,000 per year compared with high technology jobs at about $44,000 per year.  Although the service industry is a major contributor to Florida ’s economy and must not be neglected, the over-reliance on services needs to be tempered with creating high technology jobs.  Hydrogen energy technologies provide an excellent opportunity for Florida’s economic growth and prosperity through high-technology industry development.