On April 6, 2006, Representative Bob Inglis (R-South Carolina) proposed a bill intended to promote the development of technologies that enable a hydrogen-based economy. The H-Prize Act of 2006 (H.R. 5143) would provide monetary awards for scientific advancements that help remove technological and commercial market obstacles in the process of moving toward a hydrogen economy.
The Ansari X-prize, awarded for entrepreneurial space flight, has served as the guide for the H-Prize Act of 2006. Representative Inglis, who also serves as the Science Research Subcommittee Chairman, emphasized the value of the proposed bill by stating, “The market is now in a position to reward those who will innovate our way to a hydrogen economy. Those innovators will create jobs, clean the air, and improve our national security.”
The “H-Prize” will consist of three award categories and a grand prize. The award categories include technological advancements, prototypes, and transformation technologies. The technological advancement award will consist of four $1-million prizes awarded annually for innovations made to hydrogen production, storage, distribution, and utilization. One $4-million prize will be awarded every other year for the creation of a working hydrogen vehicle prototype. The transformation technology category contains an award maximum of $100 million. The prize is divided between $10 million in cash and up to $90 million in matching funds for private capital. Prizes in this category will be awarded for innovative changes in hydrogen technologies that meet or exceed objective criteria in production and distribution to the consumer. The grand prize will be awarded for commercial transformational technologies that serve to make a hydrogen car readily available to consumers around the country.
The H-Prize Act of 2006 has fourteen co-sponsors. In order to establish the appropriate criteria for judging award candidates, the Secretary of Energy will contract with a private foundation or panel, which is set to include experts in the field. This piece of legislation has resulted from comments made by a group of automotive, energy, academic, and political leaders who met in Washington, D.C., late last year to discuss the concept of the H-Prize. They also brainstormed ways to drive the industry and marketplace toward a hydrogen-based economy and to further a national commitment to energy security.