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Hydrogen infrastructure is last obstacle to fuel cell vehicle roll-out, say EU decision-makers

That was one of the messages from the annual Drive ‘n’ Ride event held in Brussels this week and attended by EU decision-makers and industry leaders,.

The event saw attendees meet to discuss how zero-emission, hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles can help meet European emission targets. The debate included contributions from commissioner Siim Kallas, vice president of the European Commission in charge of Transport, Carlo Fidanza, MEP, Rapporteur of the Clean Power for Transport Package and Dirk Inger, director, climate change, energy and environmental policy, electric vehicles, Federal Ministry of Transport, Germany.

The day also included an exhibition and opportunities for policymakers, NGOs and media to test-drive four different models of fuel cell electric cars by Daimler, Intelligent Energy, Honda and Hyundai.

A key message was on the need for an adequate refuelling structure, with industry speakers commenting that there are significant efforts on-going in several Member States, such as in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, Netherlands, France, Italy and other countries. They added that these efforts must be brought together in a coordinated strategy and given a political boost.

EU decision-makers outlined how fuel cell and hydrogen technology is market ready and the ideal route to clean transport in Europe, but added that private-public partnerships will continue to be essential to deliver an affordable European-wide hydrogen fuelling infrastructure.

They added that Europe must now decide whether it wants to lead the transition to clean transport and secure the associated growth and jobs or whether it wants to follow other global leaders, and said that public awareness for hydrogen fuel cell technology is imperative.

Mr Kallas said: ‘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.’

Industry speakers stressed that no technology succeeds in isolation. They added that increased production of hydrogen from renewables and hydrogen application for energy storage has the potential to deliver growth and jobs far beyond the transport sector.

Natalie Middleton

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