The finite nature of fossil energy sources, the strong European dependence on imported oil and the need for non-polluting energy conversion, all demand clean and efficient energy technologies that will have a vital role in the drive for sustainable development. Hydrogen, in combination with fuel cells, is likely to play a major role in future energy supply. The uses of fuel cells range from small portable applications, through medium to large stationar y power generation, to applications in the transportation sector. Fuel cells offer the prospect of significantly increased energy conversion efficiency coupled with little or even zero emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases. Hydrogen could be a complementary energy carrier to electricity: being intrinsically clean, it also permits the development of mechanisms for energy supply and demand management.
Although significant progress has been made in the development of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies, there remain substantial barriers to successful commercialisation. The costs of all fuel cell technologies still require to be substantially reduced and their performance to be further improved in order to compete with established cost-competitive and clean conventional technologies. Equally there are major barriers to the implementation of hydrogen as an energy carrier. These are principally concerned with the development of production routes, a viable, safe and cost-effective method for its storage, the establishment of a hydrogen infrastructure and public acceptance of hydrogen as a fuel. Research, development and demonstration have a crucial role to play in overcoming these barriers.
Therefore, the EU has supported Research, Technological Development and Demonstration in the area of hydrogen and fuel cell technology from the 1970s to the present day. Funding for RTD in this area has grown from 8 million Euros for the Second Framework Programme (1988-1992) to more than 130 million Euros in the Fifth Framework Programme (1999-2002).
This synopsis booklet updates a similar publication in 2000, which was in large part a compilation of synopses of fuel cell projects from the period 1995-2000. This new booklet assembles synopses of fuel cell and hydrogen projects and thematic networks funded under the various Specific Programmes and covers the whole of the Fifth Framework Programme (1999-2002), ranging from basic research to large scale demonstration. It also describes the activities directly undertaken by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in these areas.
Each project is summarised, listing the objectives of the project, the challenges faced, the approach taken, the exploitation and impact of the work and the results that have been achieved to date. Some of the projects described have only just started, some are ongoing and some are nearing completion. Each synopsis contains an information section where specific details can be found, including the contact point for further information.
Various fuel cell technologies receive support: Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEMFC) including Direct Methanol (DMFC), Solid Oxide (SOFC) and Molten Carbonate (MCFC). Concerning hydrogen, funding has been granted for production technologies for both conventional and renewable resources, storage technologies and issues surrounding the introduction of hydrogen as an energy carrier. Demonstration for both stationary and transport applications have been funded.
The purpose of this publication is to inform the industrial and scientific community about work undertaken within a European research context. We also hope that providing this information will help to enhance scientific and technological excellence and boost cooperation between providers and users, as well as businesses and researchers who work in this promising and technologically challenging sector of the economy. We aim to make hydrogen and fuel cells a commercial reality that will speed us towards sustainable development.
Günther Hanreich, Director & Pablo Fernández Ruiz, Director