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Fact Sheet: Hydrogen Economy

June 25, 2003

U.S.-EU Summit

Cooperation on the Development of a Hydrogen Economy

On June 25, 2003, the United States and the European Union agreed to collaborate on the acceleration of the development of the hydrogen economy.

Both President Bush and European Commission President Prodi have made the development of a hydrogen economy a major priority.

President Bush's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, announced on January 28, 2003, envisions the transformation of the nation's transportation fleet from a near-total reliance on petroleum to steadily increasing use of clean-burning hydrogen.

President Prodi at the European Union June 16-17 High Level Group on Hydrogen and Fuel cells Conference noted that hydrogen now looks like the best candidate to address sustainable development.

On June 16, Secretary Abraham and European Commissioner for Research Busquin signed the Cooperation in the Area of Fuel Cells, an annex to the 2001 Non-Nuclear Science & Technology Agreement.

U.S.-EU collaboration on the development of a hydrogen economy will provide a strong foundation for the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE), announced by the United States in April of this year.

It will enable the U.S. and EU to: further the goals of sustained economic growth; strengthen our cooperation to work for universally compatible codes, standards, and regulations; strengthen our cooperation on research and development; and work together to foster public-private collaboration.

Background: Development of a Hydrogen Economy

President Bush's $1.2 billion hydrogen fuel initiative aims to reverse America's growing dependence on foreign oil by accelerating the commercialization of hydrogen-powered fuel cells to power cars, trucks, homes and businesses with no pollution or greenhouse gases.

The Hydrogen Fuel Initiative will include $720 million in new funding over the next five years to develop the technologies and infrastructure to produce, store, and distribute hydrogen for use in fuel cell vehicles and electricity generation.

Combined with the FreedomCAR (Cooperative Automotive Research) initiative, President Bush is proposing a total of $1.7 billion over the next five years to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cells, hydrogen infrastructure and advanced automotive technologies.

This June, Secretary Abraham served as the keynote speaker at the European Unions June 16-17 High Level Group on Hydrogen and Fuel cells Conference.

In Secretary Abraham's speech he noted, " working together with international partners, we can leverage scarce resources and advance the schedule for research, development and deployment of the hydrogen production, storage, transport and end-use technologies."

Under the President's hydrogen fuel initiative, the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by fuel cells.

The hydrogen fuel initiative complements the President's existing FreedomCAR initiative, which is developing technologies needed for mass production of safe and affordable hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles.

Through partnerships with the private sector, the hydrogen fuel initiative and FreedomCAR will make it practical and cost-effective for large numbers of Americans to choose to use clean, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2020.

This will dramatically improve America's energy security by significantly reducing the need for imported oil, as well as help clean our air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In April of this year, Energy Secretary Abraham announced the creation of the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy -- designed to efficiently organize, evaluate and coordinate multinational research, development and deployment of technologies that advance the transition to a global hydrogen economy -- and invited the European Union to join.

In May of this year, U.S. and EU hydrogen technical experts met in Brussels to identify potential areas for cooperation, including codes and standards, fuel cell technology, production, and storage.

Hydrogen is the simplest element and most plentiful gas in the universe. Yet hydrogen never occurs by itself in nature, it always combines with other elements such as oxygen and carbon. Once it has been separated, hydrogen is the ultimate clean energy carrier.

The U.S. Space Shuttle program relies on hydrogen-powered fuel cells to operate shuttle electrical systems, and the crews drink one of the byproducts: pure water. Hydrogen is one of the most promising alternatives to hydrocarbon fuels, such as gasoline.

Hydrogen can be produced from a wide variety of domestic resources using a number of different technologies. It can also provide a storage medium for intermittent and seasonal renewable technologies, and can be used in combustion processes and fuel cells to provide a broad range of energy services such as lighting, mobility, heating, cooling, and cooking.

The June 16 U.S.-EU Cooperation in the Area of Fuel Cells Annex identifies the following areas for cooperation:

a. Transportation demos, including fueling infrastructure;

b. Auxiliary Power Units (APUs);

c. Codes and standards including fuel infrastructure, vehicles, and APUs;

d. Fuel choice studies and socio-economic and environmental assessment (environmental technology assessment) of critical materials availability for low temperature fuel cells;

e. Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) and high temperature fuel cell hybrid systems;

f. Support Studies, including socio-economic assessment of critical rare earth materials for high temperature fuel cells; g. Direct methanol and Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cells for transportation and stationary applications.

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: Hydrogen Economy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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