The importance of research for the hydrogen economy

The importance of research aimed at enabling the introduction of hydrogen as a clean fuel can hardly be overstated, and the introduction of the hydrogen economy is a stated policy goal of the EU [1, 2]. First, fossile fuels reserves are limited. Present estimates are that, at the current usage rate, oil will run out in 40 years, natural gas in 60 years, and coal in 200 years [3]. Second, scientific evidence is accumulating that the emission of CO2 that accompanies fossile fuel use is leading to global warming. In the Third Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects an increase of mean global average temperature by 2-6 °C by the year 2100, relative to pre-industrial times [4]. Averting the associated impacts (such as sea level rise, with relevance to European countries like the Netherlands) requires a switch to renewable energy technologies [4]. Renewable hydrogen (produced without CO2 emission) is a primary candidate, especially for use in the transportation sector. However, the introduction of hydrogen as a major fuel requires breakthrough solutions for the cost-effective production of hydrogen from renewable energy sources, and for on-board storage of hydrogen in automobiles [5]. The aim of the network is to contribute to the achievement of these solutions by the research here proposed, and by training a new generation of researchers in the skills needed for solving the problems associated with the introduction of the hydrogen economy.

11/11/2010