Care to Exchange A Proton or Two?

Which makes more sense: recharging a plug-in electric vehicle using the established electrical grid, or building a massive infrastructure to dispense hydrogen for fuel cell-powered vehicles? I remember back in 2000 when everyone was suggesting it was the latter. Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells were all the rage, and I was watching one company in particular – Ballard Power Systems – to see if their fuel cells were going to end up powering Ford and Daimler-Benz vehicles. I was thinking of investing. BLDP had climbed from somewhere in the $20s to over $100, and press hysteria seemed to make the launch of a hydrogen network a foregone conclusion (other than those loonies pointing out that Big Oil was behind it). Whatever the truth actually was didn’t matter, because BLDP plummeted back below $20 a share by early 2002 and I was relieved I hadn’t succumbed to PEM fever. As of today, BLDP is at $1.17. Ballard didn’t fail, they appear to be making fuel cells for a lot of applications. Personal vehicles just isn’t one of them.

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