Brussels, 10th October 2007
The European Commission has adopted two proposals today that will mark a step forward in the development and marketing of clean and safe hydrogen vehicles The first is the setting up of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (JTI), an ambitious industry-led integrated programme of Research, technology development and demonstration activities. This Public-Private Partnership driven by European industry will be implemented over the next 6 years with a financial contribution from the EU of € 470 million, to be matched by the private sector. The JTI should accelerate the development of hydrogen technologies to the point of commercial take-off between 2010 and 2020. Secondly, a number of hydrogen cars are already ripe for market introduction today. Thus, the Commission proposes to simplify their approval so that they will be seen more often on Europe's streets. Both proposals will now be considered by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry, said: "The introduction of hydrogen vehicles has the potential to make Europe's air cleaner and reduce its dependency on fossil fuels. Setting common standards will support the introduction of these vehicles and ensure high safety for citizens. It will also boost the competitiveness of European manufacturers."
Commissioner Janez Potočnik, responsible for Science and Research, said: “Europe is facing major challenges to secure its energy supply, while combating climate change, preserving the environment, and maintaining a competitive economy. Technologies such as fuel cells and hydrogen can help us tick all the boxes. The Joint Technology Initiative for Fuel Cells and Hydrogen will be a major step in bringing about the research, development and deployment programme that Europe needs to bring these technologies to the market. EU funds matched by the industrial sector will bring a sorely needed billion euro to kick-start a real change."
EU wide approval of hydrogen vehicles
At the moment, hydrogen vehicles are not included in the EU vehicle type-approval system. This results in complicated and costly approval procedures and hinders vehicles being placed on the market on a uniform basis throughout the EU. Today’s proposal will introduce these vehicles into the type-approval framework. Furthermore, hydrogen has different characteristics from conventional fuels. The proposal will guarantee that all hydrogen vehicles put on the market in the EU are at least as safe as conventional vehicles.
Hydrogen is a clean energy carrier. When used as fuel either in
combustion motors or in fuel-cell systems, it does not produce any carbon
emissions (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, unburned hydrocarbons or
particulates). Thus, using hydrogen will contribute to the improvement of air
quality in cities. Moreover, no greenhouse gases are produced from motor
vehicles, although care will have to be taken that the production of hydrogen
itself does not lead to an increase in CO2 emissions. This can be
achieved by producing hydrogen from non-fossil energy sources or by
Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative
The second proposal is to create a public/private partnership for research, a Joint Technology Initiative, to benefit the development of hydrogen and fuel cells. The JTI will receive €470 million from the EU's 7th Framework Programme, an amount that will be matched by the industrial partners.
Fuel cells are very efficient energy conversion devices. Fuel cells can be applied in a variety of products such as mobile phones and laptops, cars, buses, ships and planes, as well as stationary heat and power generators in the domestic and industrial sector. However, a number of technical and non-technical barriers must still be addressed before these technologies can become widely commercially available. They include, for example, cost and durability of fuel cells, sustainable production of hydrogen, and safe and efficient distribution and storage of hydrogen, particularly for mobile applications.
These two proposals adopted today by the European Commission on fuel cells
and hydrogen technologies will offer long term solutions for sustainable energy
and transport systems. These will benefit society by mitigating the adverse
effects of climate change and toxic pollutants, and reducing dependency on
diminishing oil and gas reserves.