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EU backs €470m hydrogen, fuel cell grant

road2.jpgSending its pun glands into overdrive, the European Union has sent out a press release with the thigh-slapping headline of ‘Europe to be in a pole position for the fuel cells and hydrogen race’. And who said Belgian civil servants didn’t have a sense of humour?

The rib-tickling headline belies what is a very interesting announcement: namely the European Union has approved a multi-million euro million grant to – can you tell what it is yet? – fuel cells and hydrogen cars research.

European countries will put in €470 million over six years, with a similar cash bonus provided by a bunch of companies that include BP, Shell, Rolls Royce Fuel Cells and Volksvagen.

Here’s what the whole thing’s about, according to the Union:

The main goal of the joint technology initiative is to speed up the development of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies in Europe and enable their commercialisation between 2010 and 2020. The partnership will implement an integrated and efficient programme of basic and applied research and technology development activities, demonstration and support actions focused on the most promising applications. The JTI will ensure coordination of activities at European level in order to maximise synergies with Member States and regional programmes.

Scenario analysis, undertaken in the EU-funded project “HyWAYS” indicates that hydrogen, if introduced with suitable policy measures, could reduce the total oil consumption by the road transport sector by 40% between now and 2050. Furthermore, by 2050, CO2 savings from road transport of up to 50% compared to peak levels are possible. Comparing overall spending for hydrogen production, supply and vehicles with the savings to be gained from replacing conventional fuel and conventional vehicles over time, the break-even point could be most likely reached between 2025 and 2035. Nevertheless European Industry needs additional stimulation to invest in the technology of hydrogen and fuel cells.

Expect a big shout out for proposals later on this summer.

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