Fuel cell electric vehicles pave the way in Europe


The EU is currently the world’s largest producer of motor vehicles, providing almost a third of the world’s passenger cars. The automotive industry employs a large number of skilled workers and is responsible for 12 million jobs. It is therefore a key driver to support innovation (€ 20 billion a year in R&D) and Europe’s competitiveness (annual turnover of € 780 billion and a value added of over €140 billion). However, it is also responsible for around 11% of the greenhouse gases emitted worldwide. Intelligent Energy joined other technology leaders, EU decision-makers and the automotive industry leaders at the annual Drive ‘n’ Ride event to discuss and demonstrate how zero-emission, hydrogen powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) can help meet European emission targets. One of our zero emission London taxis joined vehicles from Honda, Hyundai and Daimler at the European Parliament, Brussels in demonstrating that FCEVs are a present day reality.

 One of the significant points raised at the event was that the fuel cell and hydrogen technology market is ready to help pave the way for clean transport in Europe. The benefits of FCEVs are clear. They offer ranges similar to petrol vehicles, refuelling in only a few minutes, high energy efficiency, no tail-pipe emissions and quiet operation. However, in order to ensure that they play a full and near term role in a cleaner European transport landscape, private-public partnerships, with government and industry working closely together, will continue to be essential to deliver an affordable Europe-wide hydrogen fuelling infrastructure.

 Commissioner Siim Kallas, Vice President of the European Commission and in charge of Transport noted: “To maintain Europe’s leading position on clean technology for transport, a stable political framework and joint action is needed to address emissions targets, create new jobs and harness the advanced technology that exists. To deploy hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles requires a combination of reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Consumer acceptance is key for take-up. Decisive European action from industry and Member States is critical to make our transport system more sustainable and environmentally responsible.”

 Other take-away messages from the event included:

  • Hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles are already on the road, they are safe and ready for the market. Their ranges are comparable to those of internal combustion engine vehicles. They produce no polluting emissions and they are quiet.
  • The cost of the necessary European-wide hydrogen fuelling infrastructure could be five times lower than the cost of the charging network required for battery and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
  • Costs continue to fall on average, by 25% per annum over the last 10 years. The costs of fuel cell systems for vehicles are expected to further decrease by 90% by 2020.
  • The lack of an adequate refuelling infrastructure is the only significant remaining obstacle to a successful roll-out of hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles across the EU. There are significant efforts on-going in several Member States, such as in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, Netherlands, France, Italy and other countries. These efforts must be brought together in a coordinated strategy and given a political boost. 

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