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Towards the hydrogen ERA

In June 2003, a group of top-level stakeholders in the field of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies – the so-called “high level group” – presented their vision report “Hydrogen and fuel cells – a vision of our future”.

The main objective of this report was to propose a vision on the role that both hydrogen and fuel cells could play in achieving sustainable energy, and on how to make that potential a reality in the next 20 to 30 years.

Fuel cells, a key technology

Fuel cells can be used in a wide variety of applications from portable phones to vehicles of all sizes, ships, aircraft, and small- and large-scale power generation. Fuel cells convert hydrogen-containing fuel and air directly to electricity, heat and water in an electrochemical process. They are highly efficient and produce zero pollutant emissions when fuelled by pure hydrogen. A number of different technologies operating over a range of temperatures make up the fuel cell family.  

A key recommendation emerged: to set up a European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform. The Technology Platform is aimed at facilitating and accelerating the development and deployment of cost-competitive, world-class European hydrogen and fuel cell technologies that will contribute towards building a sustainable energy system for the future. This would differ from current energy systems in two main respects: reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased security of energy supply.

The European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform, although initiated by the European Commission, is an autonomous body. It has an open structure and is made up of participants who represent a balance of expert knowledge and stakeholder interests.

The ‘beating heart’ of the Platform comprises all current EU-funded activities in the field of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies (such as projects, initiatives, networks and structures). The aim is to bring other national, regional and local projects and initiatives within its framework. In this way, the currently fragmented RTD effort in Europe would be efficiently harnessed in a European Research Area (ERA) to achieve the vision of the Platform.   



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Towards the hydrogen ERA