EU hydrogen car plan just hot air?

10 Oct 2007

The European Union has given the go-ahead on two proposals that will pave the way for cars that run on hydrogen. The EU will contribute over €470m to research that could see these vehicles on European motorways by 2020.

The first proposal by the European Commission is to simplify the approval of hydrogen cars in order to see them enter the market.

The second proposal is to establish a Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (JTI), an ambitious public/private partnership programme of R&D-driven activities that will benefit from €470m in funding from the EU.

The JTI should accelerate the development of hydrogen technologies to the point of commercial take-off between 2010 and 2020.

“Europe is facing major challenges to secure its energy supply, while combating climate change, preserving the environment, and maintaining a competitive economy,” said European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Poto?nik.

“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,” Poto?nik added.

At present hydrogen vehicles are not included in the EU vehicle-type approval system which could hinder these machines entering the market on a uniform basis across Europe.

According to the EU, hydrogen is a clean energy carrier that when used either in combustion motors or in fuel-cell systems. It doesn’t produce any carbon emissions.

Reducing carbon emissions could improve air quality in European cities. However, while no greenhouse gases are produced from hydrogen vehicles, care will need to be taken in the production of hydrogen itself to ensure that it doesn’t lead to an increase in CO2 emissions.

By John Kennedy