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Hydrogen, combined with efficient converters such as fuel cells, represents a very promising way to realise a more sustainable energy system. Research and development is still needed to cut costs and improve performance of the current hydrogen devices. In addition, a clear evaluation of the advantages and problems posed by the introduction of hydrogen into the transport and power generation markets, including a cost-benefit analysis of the creation of a new infrastructure dedicated to hydrogen, is necessary.

To this end, a socio-economic assessment has been performed by the FP6-funded project HyWays. The main outcome of the HyWays project, the "European Hydrogen Energy Roadmap" is presented. The "Roadmap" analyses the potential impacts on the EU economy, society and environment of the large-scale introduction of hydrogen in the short- and long- term (up to 2050).

The HyWays "Roadmap" combined all the pivotal technological and socio-economic aspects of future hydrogen infrastructure build-up. The work benefited from contributions from many industries, research institutes and government agencies. Ten Member States participated in the project, representing approximately 80% of the EU land and 70% of the EU population, thus ensuring a wide coverage of regional and infrastructure-related inputs. The project presented a number of country-specific scenarios under different assumptions.

Firstly, the HyWays "Roadmap" has shown that hydrogen can become a cost-effective option for the reduction of CO2 in the long-term. Secondly, it indicates that hydrogen introduction may lead to a substantial improvement in the security of energy supply. Thirdly, the project has highlighted that hydrogen, if produced through sustainable pathways, offers the opportunity to increase the utilisation of renewable energy in Europe.

The HyWays "Roadmap" has also illustrated that a balanced effort on research, development and technology deployment is needed to ensure that the economic break-even point of new investments for end-use applications and infrastructures is reached as soon as possible.

To speed up the introduction of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies to the market, the European Commission has recently proposed to the Council to set up the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (JTI). According to the proposal, the JTI, a Public-Private Partnership, should be active over the next 6 years with a financial contribution from the EU of € 470 million, to be equally matched by the private sector.

The JTI aims at implementing an ambitious industry-led integrated programme of research, technology development and demonstration activities. We hope that the results of the HyWays "Roadmap" will be of considerable interest for decision- and policy- makers and stakeholders at different levels all over Europe. We also hope that this publication will help the interested reader to better understand the issues connected to the future European hydrogen market.

Director for Energy
Directorate-General Research