3E Intelligence

In a joint press conference on 10 October, EU Commission Vice-President Verheugen and research commissioner Potocnik presented two new initiatives to accelerate research and development of hydrogen cars. A uniform EU-wide market approval system and a new public-private partnership (the “Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative“) with a financial EU contribution of 470 million euros is supposed to bring hydrogen cars to the European market by 2015-20.

What was remarkable in the press conference was the caution of Günther Verheugen saying openly that he was not sure that hydrogen would be the future of cars and stating in response to one of my own questions that he sees a lot of potential for electric cars. But, “the car of the future will not run on fossil fuels”, Verheugen said. The Vice-President also underlined at least twice that the hydrogen for cars will have to come from non-fossil fuel sources. On the other hand, when asked if it could be produced by nuclear, the commissioner evaded a direct response stating that he “personally” opposes nuclear power but that the Commission has no anti-nuclear policy and therefore would accept hydrogen produced from that source.

More importantly, Verheugen made it absolutely clear that the EU in the future should not finance the hydrogen infrastructure (“the hydrogen producers have the responsibility to take care of their distribution system”). It is questionable whether car makers will want to develop hydrogen cars when there will not be any governmental subsidies for the very expensive distribution networks that will need to be built.

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  1. 3e intelligence was first to report ! The momentum described here was underscored on 10 and 11 October when some 300 people gathered from research community, universities, industry, member states, regions, Commission, and others active in research or projects for Fuel Cells and Hydrogen. They reviewed of state of the art and plans for research, economic models, demonstration (lighthouse) projects, and issues like standardisation.
    The European Industry Grouping for a Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative, called NEW-IG (New Energy World – Industry Grouping) also welcomed the European Commission taking this important step towards the establishment of the Joint Undertaking.
    Gijs van Breda Vriesman, Chair of the NEW-IG said “Fuel cell and hydrogen technologies will play a major role in our future
    energy portfolio. As an innovative, long term public-private partnership, the JTI between NEW-IG and the European Commission will contribute to the European Union’s objectives for addressing the critical challenges of climate change, energy security and competitiveness”.
    NEW-IG has grown to over 50 members, including 14 Small and
    Micro businesses, representing a major share of European industries active in this exciting and innovative field. More members are expected to join and will help to press for development of both cars and infrastructure, as well as many other mobile and stationary applications for hydrogen and fuell cells. At plenary speeches, support for adoption of the JTI proposal was expressed by MEPs and the Portuguese Presidency representative. …now, we just finished two long days and are pleased to contribute to 3e… and will build enthusiastically towards this JTI.

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