The Heat Is Online

EU Begins Planning for a Hydrogen Economy

EU Gearing Up for a Move to the 'Hydrogen Economy'

Reuters News Service, Sept. 12, 2003

BRUSSELS - The European Commission said on Wednesday it would set up in the coming weeks an advisory body to help coordinate government, scientific and industry efforts to boost the alternative fuel hydrogen.

Commission President Romano Prodi, who has adopted the idea of making the EU a "hydrogen economy" as something of a personal ambition, reaffirmed his commitment to the gas as an emission-free way of powering cars and other machines.

"This requires a firm political will and increased resources. We will meet this challenge," Prodi said in a statement announcing the creation of an advisory council to coordinate private and public research and development.

As a follow-up to a report on hydrogen published in June by an EU advisory panel which included representatives from Royal Dutch Shell, Renault and DaimlerChrysler, the Commission has called for interested parties to join the new coordinating body.

The EU has pledged up to 300 million euros for hydrogen research over the next four years, way behind Japan and the United States, according to the Commission.

Environmental groups are wary about the EU's enthusiasm for hydrogen, which emits only water when used in fuel cells, as it can be derived by using electricity generated from fossil and nuclear fuels.

They say the Commission is not giving enough attention to primary renewable energies such as wind and solar, which can also be harnessed to generate hydrogen.

Hydrogen is produced by using electricity to split the gas out of water through a process called electrolysis. The gas is compressed and stored in fuel tanks ready to create electricity again when combined with oxygen.