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News Alert

Hydrogen buses, clean power stations and greener laptops: Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative launches a €140 million call for proposals for cutting-edge research

Brussels, 02 July 2009

With today's publication of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (JTI)'s second call for proposals for research, Europe stays the course to realise the potential of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies and to create a cleaner energy system for the future. Around €140 million have been allocated to this second call, with €71.3 million by the Commission matched by in-kind contributions of the industrial partners. The 29 project topics aim to put fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies on the market two to five years sooner than what is estimated without the support it offers. Selected teams of researchers will investigate bottlenecks in the whole range of applications for these energy technologies, from cars to large scale power plants, as well as the whole supply chain from hydrogen production to demonstration of the market-readiness of applications. Breakthrough research should foster the use of hydrogen-fuelled buses and fuel cell vehicles. It will help develop hydrogen storage and improve fuel cells' durability, performance and the cost-efficiency to make green applications such as power stations or laptops ready for the market. This call is the second being launched by this EU-wide collaborative private-public partnership whose total budget amounts to around €1bn to be invested by 2014.

EU Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik, said:
"The new step taken today by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen JTI highlights the continued commitment of the European Commission and the European industry to develop breakthrough technologies to put Europe at the forefront of green technologies. Precious partnership in this area and others that are to follow in the framework of SET Plan will help the EU to meet its ambitious energy and environmental goals faster and cheaper. Such Investments today are a guarantee for EU competitiveness and growth tomorrow ".

The Chairman of the Governing Board of the Joint Undertaking, Gijs van Breda Vriesman, stated:
"The industry has been thriving to create this partnership for a long time. It is important to join forces to overcome the technical and economic hurdles to market-introduction of these technologies which have a big potential to address problems of climate change and energy import dependence. It is gratifying to see the long work done by the partners bearing fruit. We have a well-prepared research agenda and we are receiving a good response from the industry and the research community. We are just in time to grasp the chance to make Europe a leader in these technologies."

Targeting obstacles to market-introduction
Fuel cells, as an efficient conversion technology, and hydrogen, as a clean energy carrier, can be applied in a variety of end uses, from cars and other vehicles to stationary power generation in power stations and homes, to portable applications such as laptops. 

The 29 topics of the call address key issues that need to be tackled to achieve market breakthroughs. They are divided in 5 application areas: transportation and refuelling infrastructure; hydrogen production and distribution; stationary power generation; and early markets, such as portable applications or small utility vehicles. The fifth application area focuses on cross-cutting issues, supporting research necessary for market creation, such as developing a life cycle assessment framework, training regulators or supporting SMEs. Complementarities exist, and the research results will in many cases be useful for several types of applications.

Quality projects from multi-national teams
Project proposals are welcomed from consortia including a minimum of three organisations, businesses or research bodies, from different EU member states or countries associated to the 7th Framework Programme.  The best proposals will be selected by a peer review with reference to stringent scientific criteria and the project's contribution to the defined goals of the topic.

Peer review of the proposals will take place during autumn 2009 and negotiations with selected projects will start in March 2010. Contracts for launching projects are expected to be signed from June 2010. 

Next steps
The application deadline for the call is 15 October 2009 and projects selected for contract negotiations will be announced in March 2010.  

Background
The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen JTI was launched on 14 October 2008. Its main goal is to speed up the development of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies in Europe to enable their commercialisation between 2010 and 2020.

The first call of this JTI, with an EC contribution of €28.1 million, closed on 15 January 2009. It attracted a good level of proposals with 32 received, of which 16 were selected for funding. Negotiations are on-going to finalise funding agreements by autumn 2009. The current call is expected to draw even more interest since the programme is becoming better known and the budget for the call is more significant.

The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) is led by a Governing Board. Daily management and operations are the responsibility of an Executive Director supported by the Programme Office in Brussels. A Scientific Committee advises the Governing Board, and the Member States are following the activities closely via the States Representatives Group. The Stakeholders' General Assembly, open to all interested parties, is held on an annual basis and will next take place on 26-27 October 2009 in Brussels.

The founding members of the Joint Undertaking are the European Commission and an Industry Grouping (the NEW IG) established as an international not-for-profit association representing European industry interests. The NEW IG currently has 64 companies, including major players in the automobile sector and in the energy sector. In terms of size, the member companies represent the whole range from multinationals to SMEs. Most are based in the Member States but there are also companies from Associated Countries.

The New European Research Grouping on Fuel Cells and Hydrogen (N.ERGHY) became the third member of Joint Undertaking in June 2008. N.ERGHY   represents the interests of the European research community and has currently a total membership of 54 universities and research institutes engaging more than 2000 researchers in the field of fuel cells and hydrogen. 

Together, the members of the FCH JU plan the programme for research, technological development and demonstration, realised through annual calls for proposals until 2013.

  All projects will be concluded by 2017. The total budget committed by the Commission is €470 M to be matched by the industry partners. 

For more information

FCH JU's website: http://ec.europa.eu/research/fch

Call information: http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/dc/index.cfm?fuseaction=UserSite.CooperationDetailsCallPage&call_id=225

See also IP/08/1498

On SET Plan: http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/energy/european_energy_policy/l27079_en.htm

Contacts:

Matti Evert Farkkila, Matti-Evert.Farkkila@ec.europa.eu Tel: +32 2 29 86290
Florian Frank, Florian.Frank@ec.europa.eu, Tel: +32 2 29 97934