On 19 June 2012, a high level representation from the FCH industry was invited by Gunther Oettinger, Commissioner for Energy, to provide an update about the progress made over the past years and the role that FCH technologies can play in both the energy and transport systems.
Eleven high-level representatives from the research and the industry communities, representing large and small companies across the FCH application areas, took the opportunity to explain how hydrogen and fuel cells can contribute to achieving the EU objectives for a sustainable, secure and competitive economy. The Commissioner was accompanied by his cabinet and representatives from DG Energy, DG RTD and DG Move, which allowed for a constructive and broad exchange of views.
At the meeting, the delegation highlighted that hydrogen is a safe and mature product, which has already been used for decades in industrial processes. Its potential for long-term and large scale energy storage was also mentioned, either in the existing natural gas grid or in underground caverns, as well as its flexibility to be used for decentralised power generation, grid balancing or as alternative fuel. Further, hydrogen in combination with fuel cells provides a clean and efficient power generation pathway, already applied in, for example, back-up power systems to replace lead-acid batteries, in forklifts or in cars.
The participants also stressed that many technical barriers have been lifted over the past years but that in order to lift the non-technical barriers public private cooperation is necessary. The sector explained that in order to reach competitive cost-levels, volumes will have to be scaled up. For example, in order to enable deployment of fuel cell vehicles, infrastructure will have to be built. The initial investment associated with the roll-out is high and full of risk for early-movers. However, the longer-term benefits in terms of return on investment and societal benefits, both economical and environmental, are significant.
The participants agreed to organise a follow-up meeting in six to nine months.
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