EU focus on hydrogen

April 26, 2003, 01:00 CEST

Hydrogen has never been so high on the EU's agenda as now, stated Eric Ponthieu of the EU Commission at the conference "Making hydrogen available to the public" in Reykjavik at the end of April. The EU has several environmental programmes that focus on the significance of substituting fossil fuel by "green" energy, such as hydrogen.

The EU Commission stated back in 2001 that the goal should be for two percent of total fuel consumption in 2015, and five percent in 2020, to come from hydrogen.

“This is an ambitious strategy that assumes there will be five million hydrogen vehicles on the road in 2015, and that hydrogen will be available at roughly 15 to 20 percent of all petrol stations,” Ponthieu pointed out, adding: “The EU’s strategy is still being developed.”

A technical advisory group has been set up by the EU Commission with the aim of giving technical and financial advice regarding the development of alternative energy sources for  transport purposes, such as hydrogen and natural gas. It is expected that a detailed marketing strategy will be drawn up in the course of 2003.

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In Ponthieu’s opinion, hydrogen will reduce dependence on oil and help enable the intentions of the Kyoto Protocol to be met.

He pointed to the fact that the EU has contributed  EUR 35 million annually to the development of fuel cells and hydrogen technology.

“The EU Commission supports high quality projects, such as the ECTOS project here on Iceland. Further development will depend on a collaboration between national authorities and private companies,” said Ponthieu.

The EU’s vision is to develop a world-beating hydrogen and fuel cell economy in the course of the next 20-30 years. This will require international cooperation, also with developing countries.