In mid 1999 a group of companies met under the auspieces of the Chemical Industry Council CEFIC to discuss a possible cooperation for the introduction of a European hydrogen fuel infrastructure. During this meeting HyNet was established, bringing together leading companies from a broad spectrum of industries and technologies. The core group comprised Norsk Hydro, Shell Hydrogen, BP, Air Products, ICI, Dera, BMW, TotalFinaElf, EniAgip and Hydrogen Systems. Including those who expressed their interest during the HyNet launch, a total of 35-40 companies participated, the majority being large industrial.
- To establish a platform for industrial networking, integrating the know how and innovation potential of all players in Europe
- To provide a coherent industry voice in public and political arenas
- To support the EC establishing a suitable European R&TD Strategy
- To promote further co-operative R&TD in relation to all aspects of the hydrogen supply chain and hydrogen applications
- To establish an organisation for the advancement of hydrogen energy to create competitiveness of the European hydrogen industry at world scale
- To collect, analyse, and disseminate information on the hydrogen socio-economic and environmental effects
- To create instruments for the dissemination of hydrogen related information to experts and the public
- To participate in the development of safety and regulatory discussions
Major tasks of the network are to develop a well balanced European hydrogen energy infrastructure road map, an RTD strategy and the assessment of the socio-economic and political issues associated with the move towards a hydrogen based energy future. The more practical aspects are to propose large demonstration activities and joint projects to respond to the interest of the Commission for bundling the European efforts on hydrogen energy. The tasks will be developed or updated in a process of workshops over 3 years in a number of Thematic Working Groups with European experts from national governments, industry, institutes and organisations.
The following Thematic Working Groups were tentatively suggested:
- H2-production, supply, distribution, transition pathways (e.g. nodal city points, regional models, H2-corridors), storage, retail
- H2-Applications - Stationary, mobile, systems synergies
- Socio-economic Effects
- Impact Analysis, economic and macro-economic effects of various hydrogen supply schemes, fuel costs
- Regulatory Issues
- Political, economical, social, technical, environmental and legal regulations
- Outreach, Public Acceptance
- Dissemination, communication, education
A central idea behind this structure was to incorporate the most practical approach of the Thematic Network by priorising hydrogen fuel infrastructure issues.
A special focus arises from the needs of private road transport without leaving other medium- to long-term options of hydrogen energy, e.g. stationary use in residential or industrial co-generation or other transport systems, unconsidered. Representing the views and interests of the major European drivers for a hydrogen economy, the strategy reports will be initiated by state-of-the-art evaluations to identify gaps and needs of hydrogen technologies and issues surrounding its utilisation. Mapping of EU centres of excellence and suggestions for an RTD program with milestones and demonstration programs will also be part of the reports.
The results of the process will be disseminated to experts and the public by a HyNet webpage which will comprise public and HyNet participant sections. The webpage will also be developed to foster commercial small and medium enterprises' (SME) interests in hydrogen energy via an internet industry portal (non-commercial elements of a business-to-business
- Legal requirements or regulations are ranked above standards. They are legally binding and enforceable documents emanating from governments. Standards in general are voluntary agreements drafted by standardisation committees on a global, regional or national level. Standards are documents, established by consensus and approved by a recognised body.
- Standards, although not legally binding, are important for the development of any industry and harmonisation across Europe and globally will help ensure the successful introduction of hydrogen and fuel cells.
- It is therefore very important to ensure that expertise from the development of relevant regulations is represented in the standard committees.
- Regulations for Europe which can be transferred to member states laws uniformly are desirable in order to allow the local/ regional implementation of H2 & FC technologies following to the same regulatory requirements in all EU member states.
- Public funding can make it easier to justify significant resources to these areas where either a small or no market exists in the near term.
- It will be important to achieve a balance between standards that can facilitate the uptake of new technology and premature standards that can lock-in a sub-optimal outcome.
- The collection of relevant data and the harmonisation of risk analysis methodologies are vital to ensure acceptable risk levels within the field of hydrogen safety.
- Gaining and sharing experience and building competence within organisations will be essential to achieve an effective approval process which takes into account the relevant safety aspects of hydrogen.
- Effective collaboration is required between R&D institutions and commercial companies to ensure the implementation of hydrogen safety research results into technical solutions, regulations and standards.
- The challenges faced by hydrogen are not simply technical but also socio-economic.
- To ensure success, governments will have to take an active role in stimulating research, development and large-scale demonstration.
Steam reforming and electrolysis for the production of hydrogen are commercially available today and can play a vital role in satisfying hydrogen energy demand in the short and medium term. Hydrogen is already produced in significant amounts today and there is likely to be sufficient capacity to meet its initial introduction as a fuel, but not for mass-market demand.
Today Hydrogen is more expensive than conventional fuels. However we are optimistic that in the future hydrogen could be produced at untaxed costs per km driven which make it competitive with taxed gasoline and diesel fuel in
, and even untaxed gasoline and diesel fuel. This assumes that anticipated long-term technology learning curves and economic scaling factors for series production (both for H2 production and storage and FC technologies) can be achieved.
Urgent action is required to ensure the future economic competitiveness of Europe in the field of hydrogen technologies. The High Level Group for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells (HLG) pointed out the vital need for Europe to create a political framework that 'enables new technologies to gain market entry within the broader context of future transport and energy strategies and policies' and develop a European Roadmap for Hydrogen. HyNet was asked by the European Commission's DG Research to build on the vision of the HLG by developing a first-stage European Hydrogen Roadmap by the end of 2003.
This preliminary roadmap would be the base for a fully validated roadmap developed under the HyWays project under the Framework 6 research programme. The transition towards a hydrogen economy will require political and socio-economic policy measures to be taken. This will both remove barriers and ensure a coherent framework within which different organisations can manage the risks of entering an emerging market. The fulfilment of the individual tasks of each phase – e.g. putting appropriate regulations, codes & standards in place for demonstrations – is a major milestone before the next transition step can be undertaken.