Brussels, 21 Oct 2004
Dutch State Secretary for Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment Pieter van Geel has called for the further investigation of all technologies that could provide an alternative to fossil fuels, rather than a focus on making one such technology viable.
Endorsing one of the conclusions of the Energy in Motion conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on 20 October, Mr van Geel, said that there is no single best technology for reducing CO2 emissions and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
'It is tempting to commit ourselves to a single option like bio-fuels or hydrogen. But, if there is a silver bullet of this kind, we are not yet in a position to identify it. We don't know enough to say which fuel will eventually turn out to be the most cost-effective option for the environment,' said Mr van Geel.
'The most sensible approach' is therefore to explore all the various alternatives and to encourage cross-fertilisation between them, according to the State Secretary. He added that it must be left to market forces and not governments to decide which technologies are further developed. 'Politicians like me have to resist the temptation of opting immediately for a tangible technology so that we can point to concrete results,' Mr van Geel added.
Echoing one of the themes of the conference, 'Just do it', Mr van Geel highlighted two initiatives demonstrating that it is possible to act now and to get results. The first is a refuse collection truck with soot filters developed in the Netherlands by Dutch company TRS. The filters improve the working conditions of refuse collectors, who are directly exposed to exhaust fumes, while at the same time reducing harm to the environment at large. 'My message for you is: try to look for this kind of win-win option,' said Mr van Geel.
Mr van Geel also spoke of the introduction of hydrogen-powered cars in California in the US. During a recent visit, 'I was able to drive around in a hydrogen-powered car. Just like that. As if it was the most normal thing in the world. Even refuelling was quite straightforward and routine. A dream converted into a concrete product in everyday use.'
While large-scale production is not yet in the offing in Europe, practical and tangible steps will make this a possibility, not just for hydrogen but for all new technologies, claimed Mr van Geel. 'You can make it happen. Just do it!' he concluded.