The European Commission Fuel Cells and Hydrogen (FCH) Joint Undertaking (JU) has published its 2010 Call for Proposals with a budget of €89.1 million (US$110 million). The JU publishes annual calls for proposals (from 2008-2013), on the basis of which funding is granted for research, technological development and demonstration projects. (Earlier post.)
The overall program of the FCH JU is divided into four major horizontal application areas (AA): Transportation & Refuelling Infrastructure; Hydrogen Production, Storage & Distribution; Stationary Power Generation & CHP; and Early Markets. Cross-cutting activities have also been established as a fifth area in order to make their relevance more visible.
The program structure reflects the research, technological development and demonstration (RTD) cycle from long-term and breakthrough-oriented basic research to demonstration and support activities. Pre-normative research is also included at project level. The emphasis given to different action categories in different application areas reflects the industry and research partners’ assessment of the state of technological maturity of the applications.
Specific topics for the different areas in the 2010 Call include:
Transportation and Refuelling Infrastructure (€31.6M). A topic will be published for large-scale demonstration of second-generation fuel cell vehicles (car and bus fleets with improved durability, robustness, reliability and efficiency) and of a refuelling infrastructure to expand on the number of existing demo sites in Europe.
Research and development of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells will aim to further reduce the amount of platinum loading, increase catalyst performance and stability, and improve the manufacturability of MEAs. Other R&D activities proposed include investigating degradation phenomena specific to transport applications and improving bipolar plates. Finally, proof-of-concept demonstration activity in Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) for transport applications is called for.
Hydrogen Production and Distribution (€11.0M) will focus on research and development to improve reforming technologies for hydrogen production, with the goal of addressing mid-term fuelling requirements based on conventional and alternative fuels. This shall enable initial introduction of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles in the market.
Research and development on gas purification technologies is a prioritized topic to tackle short-term fuelling requirements—i.e. a suitable hydrogen quality. One call topic is dedicated to research and development on low temperature alkaline electrolysis technology to further advance the large-scale use of renewable and other energy sources, and to achieve substantial improvement of energy efficiency.
Demonstration activities in hydrogen production are prepared with a call for an efficient design for a large-scale hydrogen liquefaction plant. A collaborative project is also launched to prepare for the introduction of higher truck delivery pressure for distribution and retail, including recommendations on safety aspects and legislation.
Stationary Power Generation (€33.0M) has emphasis on material development to improve performance of fuel cell stacks and Balance of Plants components, and on long-term research for novel architectures for cells and stack design. Component improvement of fuel cell systems is also addressed.
Activities further along the technological maturity curve will also be introduced in this application area with a topic on construction and validation of proof-of-concept fuel cell systems and another one on field demonstration of stationary fuel cell systems. Finally, pre-normative research on power grid integration and management of stationary fuel cell systems for development of RCS is proposed.
Emphasis of the application area Early Markets (€11.5M) is put on demonstration of readiness of fuel cell systems applied to materials handling vehicles, with the final aim to stimulate market pull for these applications. Another topic relates to the demonstration of application readiness of fuel cell generators for power supply to off-grid stations, another promising early market.
Research and technological development topics focus on micro fuel cells and portable applications of up to 5kW, demonstrating proof-of concept for a fully integrated system; developing improved, cost-efficient components for Direct Methanol Fuel Cells; and new portable and micro FC solutions. PNR is proposed to be done on cost-effective safety solutions for the indoor use of fuel cell systems.
Cross-Cutting Issues (€2.0M) focus on two topics: First, the development of a comprehensive technology monitoring and assessment (TMA) framework to be used by the FCH JU for assessing progress towards achieving both FCH JU objectives and vis-à-vis major external developments. Second, development of financing models for reusable or recyclable components of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
The deadline to submit project proposals for the 2010 call is 13 October 2010. The Call for Proposals 2009 closed on 15 October 2009. Following an independent evaluation, successful projects have been in negotiations for grant agreements since April 2010.
FCH JU Background. The European Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan has identified fuel cells and hydrogen among the technologies needed for Europe to achieve the targets for 2020—20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; 20% share of renewable energy sources in the energy mix; and 20% reduction in primary energy use—as well as to achieve the long-term vision for 20501 towards decarbonization.
A key element of the SET Plan’s implementation strategy is to combine resources with the private sector, allowing industry to take the lead in identifying technology gaps that need to be addressed. The cooperation is structured through public-private partnerships, the European Industrial Initiatives. Among the first such initiatives, the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) was established by a Council Regulation of 30 May 2008 as a long-term public–private-partnership under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Community.
The FCH JU pools public and private resources, with activities co-financed by the Commission and the industry and research community partners. The founding members: the Union, represented by the European Commission; and the European Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative Industry Grouping (IG), share the running costs of the JU, with an additional contribution from the third member, the New European Research Grouping on Fuel Cells and Hydrogen, N.ERGHY (RG).
The planning of the agenda for research, technological development and demonstration (RTD) is led by the industry to ensure that it is focused at the objective of commercialization. The FCH JU’s first call for proposals, with indicative Community funding of €28.1 million, was finalized in December 2009 with the conclusion of contracts with 16 project consortia. The second call, with an indicative Community funding of €71.3 million, entered into the negotiation stage in April 2010.