December 2006

Clemson thinking hydrogen
(full article)

Harrell seeks to grab hydrogen future for S.C.
(full article)

Legislation advances SC's hydrogen future
(full article)

Speaker Lays Out Energy Plan
(full article)

Energy series: We can benefit by building a hydrogen highway
(full article)

BMW's H7 fuels California visit
(full article)

Innovista's success hinges on effective marketing plan
(full article)

December 22, 2006

Clemson thinking hydrogen

State funds could be used for fuel station at ICAR

Clemson University could tap into a proposed $15 million state fund to build a fueling station for hydrogen cars at the International Center for Automotive Research, a Clemson administrator said.

Chris Przirembel, Clemson's vice president for research and economic development, said the university has talked with a California fuel cell company about using one of its fuel cells to power the graduate school of automotive engineering under construction at ICAR.

The fuel cell would burn natural gas or propane to generate electricity for the Campbell Graduate Engineering Center, then make hydrogen for a fueling station when demand for electricity at the school dropped at night, Przirembel said.

"We're considering having possibly one or two (hydrogen-powered) buses that will provide transportation between (Clemson's) main campus and ICAR, which would be a great demonstration of that technology," he said.

The $15 million fund would be created under a bill filed by state Rep. Bobby Harrell, Charleston Republican and speaker of the House.

Grants could be made from the South Carolina Hydrogen Infrastructure Development Fund "for any purpose that furthers the creation of a sustainable foundation upon which a hydrogen economy may develop across the state," the bill says.

Grants could be given for "a demonstration project, pilot project, and the purchase of machinery and equipment," the bill says.

Mikell Harper, a lawyer in the Speaker's office who helped draft the bill, said either private or public parties could be grant recipients.

The South Carolina Research Authority would administer the fund on behalf of the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance, a new statewide initiative to promote development and use of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

The research authority must consult with various parties, including ICAR, the University of South Carolina's Fuel Cell Center of Excellence and the Center for Hydrogen Research in Aiken.

The General Assembly would appropriate the $15 million over the next three fiscal years, and the money would have to be matched by an equal amount of non-state funds. The matching-funds provision could be waived in special cases.

Bobby Hitt, a spokesman for BMW Manufacturing Co., said the automaker would like to see a hydrogen fueling station in the Upstate.

BMW has been developing hydrogen-powered cars for years and in late November unveiled its Hydrogen 7 concept car, which is powered by both hydrogen and gasoline.

"We designed it that way because there's not enough hydrogen refueling stations around," Hitt said.

Hitt said BMW hopes to have a couple of the Hydrogen 7 vehicles in South Carolina next year for demonstrations.

Clemson's long-term plans for ICAR, the automotive research park it's developing in Greenville, include an alternative fuels research laboratory.

Jim Barker, Clemson president, applauded the bill in a press release issued by Harrell's office.

"Through CU-ICAR and other initiatives, Clemson will focus on integration of novel hydrogen technology into automobiles and in developing a hydrogen fueling infrastructure and work force to support the hydrogen economy of the future," Barker said.

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December 20, 2006

Harrell seeks to grab hydrogen future for S.C.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell on Tuesday proposed $15 million in state grants and tax credits to companies that partner with South Carolina-based institutions and conduct hydrogen fuel research in the state.

The Charleston Republican said the incentives are needed to help South Carolina become a leader in alternative fuels, which he said could become a major creator of jobs.

“This plan is centered around two things: developing a clean alternative fuel and creating jobs for our citizens,” Harrell said. “For this to happen, we need to encourage private sector involvement in this field.”

The financial incentives also could be important tools to help the University of South Carolina nail down research partnerships with private companies.

USC has been seeking tenants for a private alternative fuel research building under construction at Blossom and Assembly streets. That building is the result of a partnership between developer Craig Davis and USC, which is constructing a similar building at Blossom and Main streets.

USC has three stories of steel assembled so far for its building, but no private research partners yet as tenants.

Harrell said university officials have told him they need the state incentives as an additional tool to attract the private research partners.

In a news conference on the State House steps accompanied by research institution and business leaders, Harrell outlined his vision for South Carolina to lead the nation in a hydrogen fuel industry estimated to be worth $2.6 trillion in the next few decades.

He predicted the future hydrogen fuel economy will be dominated by companies that “are not currently household names,” or may not even yet exist.

“I hope we will one day have some Bill Gates-type of business leaders running their companies from South Carolina headquarters,” Harrell said.

The $15 million South Carolina Hydrogen Infrastructure Development Fund would be available to private companies that work with USC, Clemson, S.C. State University and the Savannah River National Laboratory, Harrell said. The institutions would have a voice in who receives the financial incentives, he said.

The legislation also will require state agencies to consider purchasing equipment and machinery operated by hydrogen fuel cells. And the proposal provides for a sales tax exemption for equipment or machinery operated by or used to distribute hydrogen fuel cells, he said.


USC’s plans for a downtown research campus, named Innovista, began with the Life Sciences Act, passed by the General Assembly in 2004. The act gave state research universities access to $220 million in state funds for new offices, laboratories and classrooms.

Edgar Berkey, vice president of Concurrent Technologies Corp. and an adviser on the state’s hydrogen strategy, cautioned against expecting too much too soon. He said South Carolina and USC are in a development cycle that started three or four years ago and could last for 10 years.

“The introduction of major new technology usually is slower than people would wish,” Berkey said. “South Carolina is taking a leadership role in setting up the pieces that are going to be necessary to be among the leaders.”

“Silicon Valley established very strong ties with Stanford University,” Berkey said. “Over the years, Stanford graduates created companies such as Yahoo, E-bay and Google. But it takes a while for these things to catch on.

“If you have the basic partnerships, university and industry, you have a strong basis for long-term economic growth.”

Todd Wright, director of the federal Savannah River National Laboratory near Aiken, said the state has “the dream team of hydrogen fuel research,” with the half century of experience with hydrogen at the Savannah River Site, the National Science Foundation-designated fuel cell research center at USC and Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research at Greenville.

Savannah River already is working in collaboration with automakers to solve the problems inherent in generating and storing hydrogen fuels.

Business and political leaders said the public will begin to see visible progress toward a hydrogen economy in 2007.

BMW plans to bring about two dozen cars fueled by both gasoline and hydrogen to the United States and some of them will be tested out of the company’s facilities near Greer, said BMW Manufacturing spokesman Bobby Hitt. He said the state will need hydrogen fueling stations so the cars can be driven throughout the state.

Columbia Mayor Bob Coble said the city is committed to having a hydrogen fueling station by the end of next year.

And USC president Andrew Sorensen said two 140,000-square-foot research buildings at Main and Blossom streets will link the university’s expertise in fuel cell research with private companies working in the same field.

Research, knowledge and investment capital are so portable today, Harrell said, it is imperative for South Carolina to attract emerging companies to locate here so the state’s citizens will benefit from the state-assisted research.

“For South Carolina to lead the nation in this new industry will require that chief executive officers live here,” Harrell said. “One thing we’ve learned is that to really improve the economy, we need the top people in the company to live here.”

“Otherwise, I’m afraid the technology will be developed here and exploited elsewhere.”

View the full text of the South Carolina Hydrogen Infrastructure Development Act here.

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December 19, 2006
(view original PDF press release)

Legislation advances SC's hydrogen future

Columbia, S.C. – House Speaker Bobby Harrell announced today hydrogen based legislation proposing $15 million in state grants and tax credits to companies that partner with South Carolina-based research institutions to support hydrogen and fuel cell initiatives. Harrell’s announcement serves as a significant first step leading the state down the hydrogen highway and catapulting South Carolina into the national spotlight by creating jobs and reducing dependence on foreign sources of oil.

The hydrogen friendly legislation arrives less than one year after the formation of the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance (SCHFCA), a nonprofit corporation in place to promote and foster hydrogen and fuel cell investigation, integration and education.

“We have all worked hard during this past year to bring South Carolina to the forefront on hydrogen and fuel cells and we have seen results,” said SCHFCA Chairman Fred Humes. “Speaker Harrell is a champion for hydrogen and fuel cell technology and this announcement is great way for us to end the year and to get ready for implementation next year.”

Speaker Harrell’s legislation is expected to attract businesses to the state that are interested in hydrogen and fuel cell technology, propelling SCHFCA’s vision for a sustainable hydrogen economy.

Founded in January 2006, SCHFCA is leading the way towards making South Carolina a player in the national and international hydrogen economies through research and partnerships of its founding members, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, Clemson University, the Center for Hydrogen Research, the Savannah River National Laboratory, South Carolina State University and the University of South Carolina.

In July, The National Hydrogen Association announced it selected SCHFCA to host its annual conference in Columbia in 2009. The four-day conference is expected to bring approximately $1 million in economic impact to the area through its 1,200 attendants and hundreds of exhibitors. The Alliance has also sponsored the 2007 H2U Student Design Competition, supporting multi-disciplinary teams of students around the country to develop innovative design concepts using hydrogen technologies.

In addition to participation in national and international conferences, SCHFCA has also developed plans to create an extensive hydrogen infrastructure connecting major regions of the state, capitalizing on their indigenous resources to create hydrogen. South Carolina’s compact size and existing research in hydrogen and fuel cell technology make it an ideal location for the deployment of hydrogen technologies.

For more information on the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance, please visit

View the full text of the South Carolina Hydrogen Infrastructure Development Act here.

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December 19, 2006

Speaker Lays Out Energy Plan

Columbia, S.C. - House Speaker Bobby Harrell, accompanied by several other members of the House and leaders in the hydrogen energy movement in South Carolina, announced the pre-filing of new energy legislation.

The proposed legislation is aimed at getting the private sector involved in the already existing hydrogen energy infrastructure we have set up in our state.

This plan is centered around two things - developing a clean alternative fuel and creating jobs for our citizens, Speaker Harrell said. For this to happen, we need to encourage private sector involvement in this field. A small investment here could turn our State into a major leader in an industry that is expected to be over $2.6 trillion dollars in the next few decades. South Carolina has the resources and opportunity to be a major player in the world-wide hydrogen technology market, this legislation will help us get there.

South Carolina has long been working toward a hydrogen energy solution for our state, and for our nation. The combined work of Savannah River Site, the University of South Carolina and their fuel cell research center, and Clemson University and International Center for Automotive Research (ICAR) along with South Carolina State University have helped spearhead the movement.

Clemson University President Jim Barker said, Clemson University applauds Speaker Harrell's proposed legislation on hydrogen research.

Through CU-ICAR and other initiatives, Clemson will focus on integration of novel hydrogen technology into automobiles and in developing a hydrogen fueling infrastructure and workforce to support the hydrogen economy of the future.

The energy package includes incentives that will help encourage companies to come to South Carolina. Creates a fund for targeted, high profile investment that will lead to job creation. Encourages the continued collaborative efforts of the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, South Carolina State University, Savannah River Site and the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance.


Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology - What It Is and What It Can Do

Hydrogen and fuel cell technology is a cutting-edge alternative means of generating electrical power. It promises clean fuel that would benefit our citizens because of its renewable resources, nonpolluting characteristics, nonpetroleum basis, and its potential to limit the country's reliance on foreign sources of oil. The legislation aims to nurture a hydrogen fuel cell cluster in South Carolina's economy, which has already begun with efforts by the state's research universities to develop our state's knowledge based economy through fuel cell technologies.

South Carolina Hydrogen Infrastructure Development Fund

This bill establishes within the State Treasurer's Office the South Carolina Hydrogen Infrastructure Development Fund. Revenues of the fund must be distributed in the form of grants to the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance and subgrantees to promote the development of fuel cell technology. A total of fifteen million dollars in grants may be made from the Fund, and neither grants nor subgrants may be made after June 30, 2012. The South Carolina Research Authority shall administer and distribute the subgrants; further, the Authority is required to submit an annual report to the Governor and General Assembly concerning the Fund.

The Fund is authorized to receive donations, grants and any other funding as provided by law, and taxpayers may receive state income tax credits for contributions subject to certain limitations. The legislation also authorizes the Fund to receive automatic appropriations from the General Fund: seven million dollars for fiscal year 2007-08; five million dollars for fiscal year 2008-09; and three million dollars for fiscal year 2009-10. Revenues, regardless of source, remaining in the Fund after June 30, 2012, relapse to the General Fund.

Additional Incentives

The legislation requires state agencies to consider purchasing equipment and machinery operated by hydrogen fuel cells. Additionally, the legislation provides for a sales tax exemption for equipment or machinery operated by or used to distribute hydrogen fuel cells and for equipment and machinery used predominately for research and development of hydrogen fuel cells.

The legislation also requires SCRA to collaborate with the University of South Carolina's Fuel Cell Center of Excellence, Clemson University's International Center of Automotive Excellence, South Carolina State's Clyburn Transportation Center, the Savannah River National Laboratory, the Center for Hydrogen Research, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the Columbia Innovation Center to establish guidelines for the application and approval of hydrogen subgrants.

View the full text of the South Carolina Hydrogen Infrastructure Development Act here.

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December 11, 2006

Energy series: We can benefit by building a hydrogen highway

Imagine America no longer dependent on Middle Eastern oil. Imagine air without car fumes and with far less CO2. Imagine innovation jobs in South Carolina.

Daring? Yes.

Deluded? No.

It's America's hydrogen highway, and it can run through South Carolina.

Just like with regular highways, we must first buy some right of way. We can do that with the fuel conservation that higher CAFE (fuel efficiency) standards would bring. Next, we need to clear the right of way with further incentives for hybrids and ethanol and bio-diesel. The rock for the road can be brought in from reinvigorated South Carolina farms through the work of the James E. Clyburn University Transportation Center at South Carolina State University. Sugar cane, genetically-engineered trees and other feedstocks can create the ethanol that can be reformed into hydrogen. A new kind of asphalt can come from labs at Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research, the USC Fuel Cell Center and the Savannah River National Lab.

Those labs are already baking some asphalt for America's hydrogen highway:

* Clemson just won (yes, "won") a $2 million competitive grant (not an earmark) for research on overcoming fuel cell damage from impurities. The money is coming from President Bush's hydrogen initiative. This is in addition to the $1.5 million competitive grant that Clemson won from the Department of Energy in January for fuel cell membrane research.

* The University of South Carolina won recognition in 2003 from the National Science Foundation as an Industry/University Fuel Cell Center of Excellence. It's already working on a $5.67 million fuel cell bus project.

* The Savannah River National Lab has won a partnering role in the Department of Energy's $150 million National Hydrogen Storage Project, and General Motors and Toyota have contracted with SRNL to work on storage issues.

And the first production car being leased for America's hydrogen highway? You guessed it. It's a BMW.

Officials from BMW's Spartanburg plant were in Los Angeles last month to celebrate the company's delivery of 25 of its 7 Series cars that run on hydrogen and gasoline. The powerful V12 internal combustion engine can burn hydrogen when it's available and gasoline when it's not -- all with a simple press of a button.

Can America's hydrogen highway survive changes in congressional control? Sure it can. This isn't a Republican highway or a Democratic highway; it's America's highway.

When the new Congress convenes in January, we will have the opportunity to prove that we -- Republicans and Democrats, Congress and the president -- can work together to build this hydrogen future.

The Democrats are already talking about redirecting into alternative energy research the tax credits that benefited the oil companies. That's a good idea and something that I wish we Republicans could have done when we controlled the House.

Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., and I will reintroduce our "H-Prize" that passed through the House on a 416-6 vote but stalled in the Senate. Modeled after the "X Prize" that rewarded entrepreneurial space flight, our bill would set up prizes for breakthroughs in hydrogen production, distribution and storage. Perhaps a new chairman on the Senate side will help us get this bill all the way to the president's desk in this next Congress.

The president can inspire the nation (and ruin the day of the terrorists we're funding with our oil purchases) with an Apollo-style commitment to a hydrogen future. He can lay out the vision of being on the road to hydrogen within 10 years. He can explain that it's about our national security, cleaner air and high-quality jobs in car-producing states like South Carolina. He can explain that the reinvention of the car can catapult America onto a higher economic plateau that will spin off revenue to the federal government, enabling us to balance our budget if we couple that growth with spending restraint.

One of the lessons of the 2006 election cycle is that Americans really don't care which team gets the credit for solving our problems; they just want the problems solved. They also want us to be bold. America didn't get to the moon by waiting for it to come close. America's hydrogen highway won't just appear one day.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong turned off the rudimentary computers that were supposed to land the Eagle on the surface of the moon. He wanted to fly it himself. Understandable, because he may well have been landing in his grave; we had no way of knowing the depth of the moon dust. As the world watched, everyone at Mission Control knew that the Eagle could disappear, never to be heard from again. As God would have it, the thrusters blew away a thin layer of dust, and the Eagle landed safely.

If we went to the moon on boldness, determination and slide-rule calculations, imagine what we can do here on Earth as we break our addiction to oil.

Bob Inglis represents Spartanburg, Greenville and Union counties and a portion of Laurens County in the U. S. House of Representatives.

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December 10, 2006

BMW's H7 fuels California visit

Most people go to California for the beaches, the movie stars, or simply the culture.

This week, U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis went for the hydrogen.

Inglis, R-S.C., was part of a 10-member delegation from the Palmetto State that toured California on Monday and Tuesday and will be on hand today when BMW unveils its new Hydrogen 7 luxury model at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The trip was designed to teach South Carolinians what California is doing to drive its state toward a hydrogen economy, and show them what lessons can be applied back home.

The delegation is leaving with a stronger desire to see hydrogen refueling stations pop up in South Carolina, a realization of how much the private sector can play in building a hydrogen economy, and, for Inglis, a stronger case for convincing Congress to take action on alternative energy.

"There's no reason that we can't do in South Carolina what they are doing in California," Inglis said from his cell phone outside Sacramento.

"The opportunity is available to us. Of course, there are 49 other states besides South Carolina that see a hydrogen future for themselves, but I think we are playing well to our strengths."

California has long been seen as a leader in the field, and aims to have 300 hydrogen cars and buses on its roads by the end of next year, complete with hydrogen refueling stations in major cities and along major roads -- the "hydrogen highway."

But Inglis points out that the impetus behind California's hydrogen initiatives rest in air quality, while South Carolina's interest in the emerging technology is more driven by economic development and has heavy academic involvement: "We want to create jobs and make some money out of this thing," he said.

The Palmetto State also has BMW's commitment to hydrogen on its side, Inglis said.

The automaker's new Hydrogen 7 model will be built in Dingolfing, Germany -- not at the Spartanburg plant, spokeswoman Bunny Richardson said. A limited number of cars will be driven by "select" people -- celebrities, politicians and others with the ability to influence public opinion -- across the U.S. and Europe.

Inglis said he hopes the car will become successful and eventually be built in Spartanburg.

The H7 is a "dual fuel" vehicle, one designed to run on hydrogen and conventional gasoline. That's because hydrogen refueling stations are few and far between.

South Carolina should be able to complete a hydrogen highway system with fewer refueling stations than California, simply because this state is smaller, said Fred Humes, chairman of the S.C. Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance.

This state is working on building one near the Savannah River National Lab in Aiken. Columbia will need one soon because a hydrogen bus is expected to be used there by University of South Carolina students by 2008, and Clemson's International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville "would be a natural," Humes said.

"What comes up over and over again is the thing we felt to be true: the need for infrastructure," Humes said via cell phone. "They've indicated that's one of their weaker areas -- for people to be able to conveniently be able to go and refuel. That's a good take-away for us, that we, as a state, put more of a focus on that."

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December 2, 2006

Innovista’s success hinges on effective marketing plan

If Columbia and the University of South Carolina are to forge a competitive knowledge economy, they must aggressively pursue high-tech companies and workers that can help transform the city.

In an effort to do that, a committee that includes the mayor, members of the chamber and USC officials has wisely been charged with the task of developing a marketing plan aimed at getting the word out about Columbia and Innovista, USC’s research campus.

Innovista is expected to radically change Columbia and South Carolina, making them economically competitive in the 21st century marketplace. It’s projected that Innovista could generate nearly $2.3 billion in the local economy, 27,651 jobs and $924.7 million in household income.

The plans for Innovista are impressive, and there is reason to be optimistic. But such investment is by no means a sure thing. Columbia is hardly known (yet) as a high-tech Mecca or a center for fuel cell research. It’s important to develop a strategy that not only lets the world know about Columbia and Innovista, but also identifies tools and resources that can be used to entice investors and companies to choose our capital city.

It’s going to take more than a slick slogan and a few glossy brochures. And committee members have acknowledged that tax incentives and rebates won’t be enough. Neil McLean, executive director of EngenuitySC, put it this way: “You offer up access to resources within USC, incubator space, startup capital and venture capital as opposed to a 100,000-square-foot building sitting in an industrial park.”

Here are some things the group is considering: establishing a “closing fund,” which would be used to cover incentives to offset offers made by other cities; creating new marketing tools, including a brochure and accompanying CD, that focus on how better-paying jobs and a higher quality of life are coming to Columbia; organizing presentations, attending trade shows and using the Internet to promote Columbia’s riverfront, downtown development and Innovista; working with the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, USC and others to attract knowledge-economy conventions. The National Hydrogen Association Convention will be held in Columbia in 2009. That’s a start to build on.

The future of Innovista and Columbia’s desire to build a new knowledge economy hinge on the committee making a compelling case for why companies and investors should locate here. While state and local governments have pledged public dollars toward this endeavor, this project’s long-term success depends on the growth and development that come from private investors and companies spending their own money.

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