If you recall, the Hydrogen Economy was rolled out with great pride by the Bush Administration. With the Obama Presidency, Steven Chu was appointed Secretary of Energy, and hydrogen was barely mentioned.
Curiously for a Nobel Scientist, Chu was very results-oriented and in his own words, always "looking for the low-hanging fruit." He believed hydrogen production and distribution was at least one decade away. Probably some credit should be given to Chu for overseeing a transformation in the nation's energy expenditures. He didn't invent fracking, but the nation's energy imports dived during his tenure.
Energy Department Launches Public-Private Partnership to Deploy Hydrogen Infrastructure tells the Energy Department is back in the hydrogen business.
DOE Drives Hydrogen Car Infrastructure Push explains there are only 76 fueling stations in the nation for fuel cell vehicles. The press release from the DOE and subsequent press release specifically on fuel cells, signals the DOE is going to be focusing on new fuel cell technology.
Unfortunately we are still stuck with the problem of hydrogen production. Today, the most economical method of producing hydrogen is steam reforming. (It is ironic, isn't it? Hydrogen is the most plentiful element in the universe, but there is little free hydrogen to be found on earth.) Steam reforming combines methane (natural gas) with high temperature steam to produce hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Yes, a greenhouse gas.
Also during earlier days, it was believed the next generation nuclear reactor could possibly allow other hydrogen production by using its high heat production. At a minimum, it could also power electrolysis which eliminates the production of greenhouse gas. Unfortunately, the government is not investing seriously in the next generation nuclear reactor. (And that could be a good thing.)
But until we have a different method of hydrogen production, investment in fuel cells seems like planning for a party, but forgetting to hire a band.