Brussels, 30 May 2008
The future of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies in Europe is on its way. The Council adopted today the regulation setting up the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking. This public-private joint technology initiative (JTI) will implement the EU target-oriented research and development to support the broad market introduction of these technologies. Founding members are the European Community and a non-profit association of European industry interests composed of a major share of Europe's fuel cells and hydrogen companies of all sizes from micro to large multinationals. The Commission is expected to fund 470 M€ from the Seventh Framework Programme for a period of six years which will be at least matched by industry contributions. The first calls for proposals are expected to be published after this summer. The official celebration of the launch will be at the JTI's first Stakeholders' General Assembly the 14 and 15 of October this year in Brussels.
"For the European Commission, the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative represents a major milestone in the way the EU conducts target-oriented research by partnering with the industry, which will increase the overall resources available for R&D and will allow for better coordination with National and Regional Programmes" said the Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik. "It will bring Europe shortly in the pole position in the race for the development and deployment of these new technologies". At the same time it will become an element of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-plan), which is to play a vital role in accelerating the development and implementation of low carbon technologies. JTI can be also seen as a first working example of future European Industrial Initiatives foreseen by SET-plan for other technologies.
The main goal of the JTI is to speed up the development of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies in Europe and enable their commercialisation between 2010 and 2020. The partnership will implement an integrated and efficient programme of basic and applied research and technology development activities, demonstration and support actions focused on the most promising applications. The JTI will ensure coordination of activities at European level in order to maximise synergies with Member States and regional programmes.
Scenario analysis, undertaken in the EU-funded project "HyWAYS" indicates that hydrogen, if introduced with suitable policy measures, could reduce the total oil consumption by the road transport sector by 40% between now and 2050. Furthermore, by 2050, CO2 savings from road transport of up to 50% compared to peak levels are possible. Comparing overall spending for hydrogen production, supply and vehicles with the savings to be gained from replacing conventional fuel and conventional vehicles over time, the break-even point could be most likely reached between 2025 and 2035. Nevertheless European Industry needs additional stimulation to invest in the technology of hydrogen and fuel cells.
The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen JTI is the culmination of a 6-year effort involving the main stakeholders in the sector. It started in October 2002 with the establishment of the High Level Group for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies. They developed a common and collective "vision" on the contribution that these technologies could make to the realisation of sustainable energy systems in the future. The industry-led European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform launched in June 2003 followed this path and developed the main strategic documents for Europe and assisted the Commission in the preparation of the JTI.
The legal entity, the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, will be led by a Governing Board. Daily management and operations will be the responsibility of an Executive Director supported by the Programme Office with its seat in Brussels. A Scientific Committee composed of high level personalities will advise the Governing Board. The Member States will closely follow the activities via the States Representatives Group. The Stakeholders' General Assembly will be held on an annual basis and be open to all public and private stakeholders to stimulate a dynamic debate and information exchange on ongoing and future activities.