Commission committed to exploring potential of hydrogen, says Potocnik at opening of JRC facility

July 11, 2005

Brussels, 08 Jul 2005

European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potocnik opened new hydrogen and fuel cell testing facilities at the Commission's Institute for Energy in Petten, the Netherlands, on 7 July.

The Commissioner expressed his satisfaction over the latest developments in the field of non-fossil energies: the agreement recently signed by the EU with international partners - Japan, Russia, China, the US and South Korea - to build the fusion experimental reactor ITER in Cadarache, France. He referred to the decision as 'an important step towards pursuing one of the possible answers to the global energy challenges faced by the world'.

Mr Potocnik said that he firmly believes in the obligation to hand a legacy for economic prosperity and quality of life to future generations that does not compromise the environment. 'We should be able to do that and at the same time create opportunities for economic growth and profitable business,' he stated.

'We are all aware of the need to find clean, safe and affordable sources of energy, as energy demand rises, and Europe becomes ever more dependent on imported energy,' explained the Commissioner.

Mr Potocnik does not believe there is one single solution to energy demand for Europe. 'We should strive to have a sustainable energy mix,' he said. 'Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies are certainly one of the most promising elements of this mix, and today we are witnessing an important step towards their eventual commercial use,' he added.

'The potential of hydrogen is very exciting and can provide one element of a future sustainable energy mix. By developing these new facilities, the Commission is showing its clear commitment to exploring this potential,' he continued.

The new facilities, located on the site of the Joint Research Centre (JRC), are part of the Commission's endeavour to provide policy-makers and industry with independent evaluation of the performance of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in terms of efficiency, safety, environmental impact and reliability, through simulating lifetime operational conditions of fuel cells and hydrogen fuel tanks.

The Commissioner emphasised that an important and strategic research, development and demonstration programme is still required to bring hydrogen and fuel cell technologies to the point of commercial readiness. 'Introducing alternative energy systems requires knowledge, experience, planning, investment and political will. The Commission has expressed and demonstrated that will on many occasions. And so have national, regional and local authorities,' he noted.

The Commission has helped to establish a Technology Platform for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, bringing together industry, public authorities and the research community to devise an action plan, which outlines the concrete steps and measures required to move towards a hydrogen economy.

T the new facility in Petten, scientists will simulate operational lifetime conditions on fuel cells under all foreseeable conditions from arctic to tropical and from motorway driving to forest tracks. Realistic simulation of fast filling (1,000 times at less than three minutes per filling) and slow emptying will also be investigated.

Furthermore, the Commission will also develop standardised test procedures for the harmonisation of testing procedures and methodologies for fuel cells in transport and stationary applications.

Mr Potocnik invited the stakeholders to become active partners of these facilities, and to demonstrate how public-private partnerships can advance key leading-edge technologies.

For further information, please consult the following web address:

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities
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