Europe backs fuel cells as energy solution

The European community is to plough a billion Euro into fuel cell and hydrogen research and development over the next six years in an effort to stay at the forefront of the development of the technology.

The goal of the investment, which will come from both the public and private sectors, is to achieve a mass-market roll out of the technology by 2020.

By setting up the Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) to focus on hydrogen and fuel cells, the EU is effectively saying that is where it sees the smart money going in terms of delivering secure energy supplies.

The EU Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik, said: “By investing in such a results-oriented scientific project, we are putting our money where our mouth is: the development of new technologies is crucial if we are to meet EU objectives to address climate change and energy challenges.

“This requires the commitment of all actors. Gathering more than 60 private companies, from multinationals to SMEs, together with the Commission, an equal number of universities and research institutes is therefore a great success.

“This JTI brings together the most significant players to put Europe ahead of the game in new energy technologies. I hope we will see a snowball effect in other strategic research areas.”

The chairman of the Governing Board of the Joint Undertaking which will oversee the project, Gijs van Breda Vriesman, added: “The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative is the best possible vehicle to accelerate the development of technologies and bring the commercialisation of hydrogen and fuel cells forward.

“The JTI provides us with the unique opportunity to implement our plans on a large European scale. To prepare the market for these strategic technologies it is necessary to ensure the cooperation of all stakeholders: it is not only needed for the relevant industrial sectors to develop the supply chain but it is also critical to ensure the cooperation between Research, Industry and Government, at regional, national and European level.”

This JTI is the first working example of future European Industrial Initiatives, as foreseen by the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-plan) which aims to play a vital role in accelerating the development and implementation of low carbon technologies.

Sam Bond

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