European Commission Adopts €940M Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative
10 October 2007
The European Commission (EC) has adopted a proposal for a Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (JTI)—a public-private R&D partnership with industry in the lead. The EC will fund €470 million (US$664 million) from the FP7 program and private industry will fund at least an equivalent amount.
The EC’s intention with the JTI is to develop robust hydrogen supply and fuel cell technologies to the point of commercial take-off. For the automotive sector, the aim is to achieve breakthroughs in bottleneck technologies and to enable industry to make the large-scale commercialization decisions that are necessary to achieve mass market growth in the time-frame 2015-2020. For stationary fuel cells (domestic and commercial) and portable applications, the JTI will provide the technology base to initiate market growth from 2010-2015.
Joint Technology Initiatives are a major new element of the EU’s 7th Research Framework Programme (FP), which runs from 2007-2013. The EC has been providing increasing levels of funding for research into fuel cells and hydrogen from successive EU Framework Programmes: from €8M from FP2 to €315M from FP6. The EC intends for this JTI to contribute to reduced time to market for hydrogen and fuel cells technologies by between 2 and 5 years.
The JTI will be established as a Joint Undertaking, with the entity being initially established for 10 years. The seat of the JTI will be Brussels. The founding members of the JTI are: the European Community, represented by the European Commission and an Industry Grouping established as an international not-for-profit association representing European industry interests. A similar grouping representing the interests of the European research community may be formed and become a member of the JTI.
A “business as usual” scenario—i.e., without the JTI— risks overall failure for a number of reasons, according to the EC:
The research needed is often so complex that no single fuel cell company or public research institution can perform it alone;
There is no agreed long-term budget plan and strategic technical and market objectives to encourage industry to commit more of their own resources;
There is insufficient integration of the EU R&D program (from fundamental research through to large-scale EU-level demonstrations); and
Technical breakthroughs are needed to improve performance and durability and reduce system costs to meet the expectations of potential customers.
In a separate action, the EC also adopted a proposal that introduces hydrogen-fueled vehicles (either combustion engine or fuel cell) in the whole vehicle type-approval framework for conventionally fueled vehicles. This means that hydrogen vehicles will be treated the same way as conventional vehicles and a single approval will be sufficient for the entire European Union.
The proposal specifies technical requirements to be applied for the type-approval of hydrogen components (hydrogen containers and hydrogen components other than containers) included in the hydrogen system in order to ensure that hydrogen related components are working in a proper and safe way.
The impact assessment accompanying the proposal concluded that adopting such an EU regulatory package could result in a saving of up to €124 million in approval costs to vehicle manufacturers in the period 2017-2025. With the establishment of the approval framework, the automotive industry could become more competitive in markets outside the EU, through taking the lead in hydrogen technology, according to the EC.
Both proposals now go to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers for consideration.
Well, another efficient use of the taxpayers money. And a wise allocation of precious limited R&D dollars.
To develop an inefficient and thoroughly unproductive method of transport, the FCEV, if ever achieved, leaves you even more dependent on fossil fuels to make the hydrogen, than you were the day before. Or force mega millions of further development into dangerous dead-end Gen IV breeder reactors to obtain temperatures high enough to electrolyze water semi-efficiently.
Isn't it amazing what you can justify to spend money on, when it isn't your money. And as a governmental organization, what you do, doesn't really have to lead anywhere.
Meanwhile you can sound, oh so concerned. It is just political posturing, from people who really seem to believe that all that is required is the politically correct posture. Accomplishment is irrelevant.
A Billion plus dollars poured down a rathole...
Posted by: Stan Peterson | 10 October 2007 at 02:02 PM
The technology to be developed is not only for vehicles. There is the intention to develop all the bottleneck technologies to make a hydrogen economy possible. If somthing better will be available by then, it's no problem. But it's very good that these technologies are developed. You don't know at the moment what it will be used for. But a robust, high-volume hydrogen production industry will certainly have it's merrits.
About the money : it's peanuts ; not even 2 euro/european. So, I finaly know what I will be paying taxes for (at least for the first working-hour of 2008).
If they want, they can also spend 10 euro/european on wind, 10 on solar, 10 on wave, 10 on nulcear fission, and 10 on nuclear fusion.
In Belgium (10 million inhabitants), last year the government spent 100 million euro on subsidising heating oil because of the 'high price' (it was 60$/barrel). THAT's wasting tax-money.
Posted by: | 10 October 2007 at 02:44 PM
Surprise, surprise, the nuclear and natural gas lobbies can get their way anywhere in the world. Corporate welfare is alive and well.
Ironic really, when you consider that they would benefit just as much from expanded incentives for CNG vehicles and HEV/PHEV/BEV options.
Posted by: Rafael Seidl | 10 October 2007 at 03:39 PM
Yeah, what a surprise. Of course, when the American taxpayers spend a billion, all we have to show for it is a bunch of dead people...
Posted by: George | 10 October 2007 at 06:40 PM
This is further proof that the European community is a total failure and waste of money. Hydrogen as fuel is less efficient than traditional fuels. Hydrogen is only an energy carrier, and converting other energy forms into hydrogen (then converting hydrogen into motion energy or other energy forms) is very very inefficient, lots of energy is wasted during these conversions.
The european community steals from the poor and gives to the rich, because this programme only benefits the incredibly wealthy energy barons.
Suppose this big sum of money was spend on developing better battery technology, better solar cell technology, and improved electricity infrastructure, then who needs expensive/inefficient hydrogen and and a very expensive and dangerous hydrogen infrastructure? We already have an efficient electricity infrastructure!
The same can be said about the ITER project (European nuclear fusion project) : it is a Tokamak style reactor, while Russian scientists already proved that commercial fusion energy by means of Tokamak reactors is not possible.
Posted by: Koen | 11 October 2007 at 03:59 AM
@ Koen -
the EU does a great many things besides sponsoring scientific and engineering research, so maybe it's a bit of a stretch to claim that it is "a total failure and waste of money" based solely on these two examples. Besides, Europe's national governments actually waste a lot more money.
On your specific qualms regarding the usefulness of hydrogen for the transportation sector and, nuclear fusion research, we are in violent agreement. Those funds might well be better spent on nearer-term solutions, even if they do not offer the same potential.
Posted by: Rafael Seidl | 11 October 2007 at 06:43 AM
But if nothing is ever spent on hydrogen development, will we ever get there at all? It's €470 million spread across the entire EU. The war in Iraq has cost the US in the hundreds of billions of dollars. I find it hard to consider this an irresponsible investment unless has been designed to produce no results.
Posted by: Jim G. | 11 October 2007 at 10:20 AM
In the end there are only two factors that matter.
Whats it gona cost and whats it gona do?
Right this second h2 is cheaper then gas in many markets. The car itself SHOULD be cheap enough likely in the 2018 2025 timeframe.
As for what its gona do.. well even now with very early tech it does perfectly well. We can hope for a fuel cell car with a 5-800 mile range running for alot less then gas or biofuels in the 2026 timeframe.
But thats not why its winning research contracts... the fact its climate independant.. thus no worries of crop failures.. ther fsct it can be made from soo many local sources of energy.. and the fact alot of big bissinesses stand to make money off it and hire alot of tax payers and voters... yhat helps... plusiys already used for alot more then fuel.. so making it cheaper and storing it better... pays for itself even before cars come into it.
Posted by: wintermane | 11 October 2007 at 11:53 AM
At the moment, hydrogen is a rather inefficient energy source, but let's put the figures right.
If high-temperature electrolysis (or other ways of H2 production) is performed at industrial scale, the efficiency becomes very high. The hydrogen can be transported much like natural gass over the whole of europe (at the moment, there is already a lot of hydrogen infrastructure, but only between industries, not to end-users). If ( I should say when) high-efficient, cheap, high-volume production of hydrogen will be available, many things can be done : production of fertiliser (which is at the moment made from natural gas), production of biofuels with much less biomass, producing metals without CO2-production, ...
It's very easy to say we don't need it, but just calculate how much petajoules we will need to power the TOTAL economy (not only electricity), and show the alternative. It is simply not feasible, unless you transform the planet to one big biomass-production-facility.
Anyhow, I still don't see the problem of the 'money'. I repeat: not even 2 euro/european is completely nothing.
If there is only a 1% chance that it will solve 1% of our energy problem, it's already worth it.
Apart of the ecological advantages, being completely energy-independent will have enormous economic and security advantages. There are not many possibilities to spend money in a better way.
Posted by: Alain | 11 October 2007 at 01:19 PM
@ Jim G. -
with viable alternatives maturing much faster than hydrogen and fuel cells, are still interested in getting there at all?
Besides, just because the US decides to waste untold billions of US taxpayers' money doesn't mean it's ok for the EU to throw EUR 470 million of European tax payers' money out of the window. Actually, my beef with this isn't so much the waste of money but rather, the waste of scarce science and engineering resources. Any researcher working on fuel cells is one NOT working on regular batteries etc.
Posted by: Rafael Seidl | 11 October 2007 at 01:24 PM
The International Thermonuclear Fusion Reactor is most definitely NOT a dead end boondoggle of any sort. Otherwise all the World's powers including the big undeveloped countries, China, India and Brazil, would not have rushed to join the re-invigorated and re-constructed worldwide research consortium, that is building and paying for ITER.
In this field, I think I am fully qualified to assess the state of Fusion technology, as any posters here, having worked at PPL in the early 80s, even if not directly in the Plasma Physics area.
ITER is the last scientific experiment, but it is also the first engineering exercise in designing inexhaustible clean fusion power plants. Fusion, available long term (i.e. post 2030), provides all the energy that all of Mankind needs to provide wealthy western lifestyles to everyone on and off the Planet.
The now assured availability of Fusion, makes the use of GEN III+ nuclear plants acceptable, a one more generation and done exercise, and complimentary technology. It also assures that there will be no need to design and develop fast reactors, GEN IV breeders, that many don't want to ever occur, including myself.
Gen IV plants safety margins will never be able to achieve the inherent safety margins of even Gen II and early GEN III LWRs, the presently running reactors, and certainly not within three orders of magnitudes of the even safer, more passive GEN III+ advanced reactor Designs, now being purchased.
It also assures that there is a solution to the radioactive waste problem; since the volume of such waste is now predictable, capped, and acceptable.
Fusion is no longer a question of IF; but with ITER being built, it is merely a question of WHEN.
Official plans say Fusion enters the scene widely in 2050; but the DOE has plans for exploiting a Fusion breakout by the 2030s. The two lost decades from, 2030 till 2050, were to be devoted to Materials Research, by scientists, seeking more research money, rather than engineers wanting to get on with the main issue, meeting Power generation needs for humanity.
So these potentially lost decades, are not really a question of Fusion reactor issues, the last questions are already answered. ITER, as presently constituted, is no longer much of an scientific experiment. It merely confirms the answers, painstakingly deduced with inferior equipment for experiments, since the early 1990s.
A cabal of tree-huggers and greedy politicians seeking earmark money, succeeded in killing the ITER in the rudderless Clinton era. That delayed Fusion by a Decade and half, and slowed but did not stop Fusion progress.
Some enviros wanted to force more "demonstrations" of windmills and solar energy un-solutions. The World as a whole has now returned to reality, with adults in charge.
The demonstrations, so stupidly funded, still proved that windmills and solar were no more economic, post demonstrations, than prior to the demonstration expenditures. Twenty years later, and many, many more "demonstrations" later, all the renewable plants of whatever type, collectively produce less that 1 quad of the 80+ quads of energy that Mankind uses annually.
There is now a realistic Energy policy that has actually solved the Energy problem for Mankind, both interim and longterm,even if many do not know of it. Short term, for the next 7-10 years, we will have to muddle through, since attempts at supply increases have been throttled.
In the interim term, from 2012-2030, we will solve Energy needs with the substitution of electrified autos, and Gen III+ electric power generation.
In the longterm, Fusion will replace these Plants and prevent the need for GEN IV Breeders, with truly clean and inexhaustible energy.
Fusion is proven scientifically; it is proven technically; it is not yet proven commercially. It still must be engineered into Power Plants that are reliable and cost effective.
That is as tough a job as engineering a better electrified vehicle. But even though neither is available yet, does all you knowledgeable posters here really doubt that the electrified auto is coming? I am similarly sure that Fusion is coming and certain.
It does not require any more scientific breakthroughs. Back in the 1970s these breakthroughs were still needed to be able to predict adequate novel batteries, to power fleets of Electrified autos. Similarly, breakthroughs were needed to provide solutions to the last few plasma instabilities encountered. Since then, these instabilities are now understood, and controlled. These last of these scientific problems, were solved and now allow the relatively straightforward engineering of Fusion electric generation plants.
Fusion already generates lots of power; 17 megawatts in current experiments, more than any solar or windmill installation in the World. It needs scale up, and ITER is it. ITER will generate as much as 700 Megawatts thermal, confirm all the solutions pieced together at various laboratories worldwide, in one place; and up scaled to appropriate power plant generation size.
The Government researchers, true to form, always want another Study. They want to create a boondoggle to study and research materials to make residual radioactivity almost nonexistent, for a couple of decades. That is nice, but we already know how to address that problem, even today.
Silicon Carbide is a fine and superior First wall material; and plunging fabrication costs for such materials make it economical to use even now, unlike in the early 1980s when the ITER and Fsuion research track was defined. It is even feasible to use synthetic Diamond thin films as the First surface, simplifying reactor "training". A Fusion Tokamak constructed with such first walls, would be non hazardous in radioactivity in as short as a several months after last operation.
Posted by: Stan Peterson | 11 October 2007 at 01:45 PM
When they can swap the amount of platinum used in cat converters for the amount used in PEM fuel cells, we may be on to something.
Posted by: sjc | 15 October 2007 at 10:51 AM
The future is actually going to be solar hydrogen! It is easy to do and very easy to transport around the world, even under the oceans. We certainly wont be needing hydrogen cars. The solar powered hydrogen will generate FREE electricity to our homes. You will then only have to plug your super efficient electric car into the mains and hey presto, drive off in the morning. Lets just keep it simple stupid and we could have all this underway in no time!!
Posted by: Sylvie LG Pollard | 31 October 2007 at 01:19 PM