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Commission Launches £360m Hydrogen Fuel Programme

New Energy Focus – 17-10-08

The European Commission has launched a new public-private initiative offering extra support for research and development in hydrogen and fuel cell technology.

The six-year Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative will receive the equivalent of £360 million funding, to be matched with private sector funds.

It will fund research into technologies the Commission said was often “so complex that no single company or public research institution can perform it alone”.

Launching the initiative in Brussels this week, the Commission said hydrogen as a transport fuel had advantages over both biofuels and electricity

Launching the initiative in Brussels on Tuesday, the Commission claimed it would cut the time it will take for hydrogen and fuel cells technology to reach a wider market by up to five years. Regarding potential for these technologies to power vehicles, it added that the research could lead to mass-production by 2015 to 2020.

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

The industry group taking part in the initiative includes motor manufacturers Fiat, PSA and Volvo and oil firms Total and Shell. European universities will also be working within the initiative.

The Commission hopes to lead the development of hydrogen and fuel cell power ahead of global competitors like the US, Japan or China. As well as funding research, it said the Joint Initiative would help raise confidence levels among investors and help industry draw up long-term investment plans.

It said hydrogen power should be seen as an alternative to electric vehicles and biofuels, and that hydrogen had an advantage over electricity for powering vehicles because of it could be more easily stored.

A first call for proposals for an initial funding round of £22 million this month targets research in refuelling infrastructure, hydrogen production, storage and distribution and also stationary power generation and CHP projects.

The Chairman of the Governing Board of the Joint Undertaking, Gijs van Breda Vriesman, said: “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.”

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