Brussels, 21 Nov 2003
EU Commissioner for Energy and Transport, Loyola de Palacio, attended a meeting on a new international partnership for the hydrogen economy in the US on 20 November, and called on ministers to use Europe's assets as building blocks for such a partnership.
The partnership agreement is the initiative of US Secretary of State for Energy Spencer Abraham, and brings together the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy and the UK with ten other countries from across the world. The agreement, signed on 20 November, claims to provide 'a mechanism to help organise and implement effective, efficient, and focused joint research, and to support activities that advance hydrogen and fuel cell technology progress.'
'I would like to propose today to use [...] European assets as building blocks of the international partnership for the hydrogen economy,' said Ms de Palacio in her address.
The Commissioner also made a plea to national representatives to share knowledge and thus avoid duplication: '[M]any of us are supporting substantial efforts to demonstrate the feasibility of hydrogen use as a transport fuel with fuel cell power trains. These are very expensive activities which require years of work to set up. Sharing the results of the demonstration projects that are going on [...] and working together in the preparation of future ones, will multiply their added value and increase their impact.'
Europe has a lot to offer, Ms de Palacio emphasised, and has already been proactive in the field of hydrogen. A European platform for the sustainable hydrogen economy has been established, uniting public and private entities around the common goal of making the hydrogen economy a reality. '[W]e are not leaning back and waiting for things to happen on their own,' said the Commissioner.
Further activities are also in the pipeline. A series of large scale deployment projects, known as 'Lighthouse Projects' are currently being discussed by the Commission. The initiative will pull together actors from all aspects of the hydrogen sector and the most advanced technology. 'We hope that these projects will show us the way forward,' said Ms de Palacio. An important element in the introduction of a hydrogen economy is to keep options open with regard to technology, she claimed.
The Commissioner finished her address by pointing to hydrogen as a 'crossroads' in European and US energy policies, and saying that international cooperation is not only possible, but essential.