The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) aims to transform the way we produce and use energy in the EU with the goal of achieving EU leadership in the development of technological solutions capable of delivering 2020 and 2050 energy and climate targets.
The EU supports Fuel Cells and Hydrogen technology through its Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and other mechanisms, and by creating the legislative and policy framework needed to bring these technologies to market. The following is a chronological overview of some of the actions taken to promote FCH technology in the EU, in addition to a more general look at recent actions in support of the SET-Plan.
Fuel Cells and Hydrogen
- Five national hydrogen organisations established the European Hydrogen Association (EHA) in 2000 and started a close collaboration to promote the use of hydrogen as an energy vector in Europe. In 2004 major European industries active in the development of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies joined the EHA and reinforced this effort to create a commercial market for stationary and transport applications and to underpin Europe’s role as market leader in the hydrogen and fuel cell sector. The EHA currently represents 21 national hydrogen and fuel cell organisations and the main European companies active in hydrogen infrastructure development.
- In October 2002, the European Commission launched a High Level Group on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, comprising top level representatives from major EU automotive and energy companies, public utilities, research institutes, transport companies and policy makers. The aim of the group was to assess the potential benefits of using hydrogen and fuel cells in EU transport, energy production and many other areas, and to help pave the way for more focused EU action in this field. Building on recommendations set out in the Vision Report of the High Level Group, the European Commission facilitated the establishment, in January 2004, of the European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform. This Platform aimed at accelerating the development and deployment of key hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in Europe
- The European Commission is a founding member of the International Partnership for Hydrogen Economy. The IPHE was established in 2003 as an inter-governmental institution to accelerate the transition to a hydrogen economy. It provides a mechanism for partners to organise, coordinate and implement effective, efficient and focused international research, development, demonstration and commercial utilisation activities related to hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
- The HyWays project, an integrated project co-funded by research institutes, industry and the European Commission (EC) under the 6th Framework Programme, was carried out from April 2004 to June 2007. The project evaluated selected stakeholder scenarios for future sustainable hydrogen energy systems with a view to producing recommendations for a European Hydrogen Energy Roadmap reflecting country specific realities in the participating Member States.
- In July 2005, the European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform published a Strategic Research Agenda to help stimulate investment in research, to provide guidance for policy options and to act as a guide in defining a comprehensive research programme to mobilise stakeholders and to ensure that European competences are at the forefront of science and technology worldwide. This was followed in August 2005 by a Development Strategy that addressed the technical, socio-economic and political challenges of deploying world-class, competitive, hydrogen technology and fuel cell applications in Europe; and by an Implementation Plan in March 2007.
- The Hydrogen Incident and Accident Database (HIAD), developed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the company DNV with the assistance of the project partners in HySafe , a European Network of Excellence funded under the European Commission’s Sixth Framework programme (FP6), was launched in July 2006. HIAD is a European knowledge base that aims to assist industry and authorities in better understanding the relevance of hydrogen-related incidents and accidents as well as the safety actions taken.
- Based on the shared vision set out in the three core documents of the European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform, the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking was established by a Council Regulation on 30 May 2008 as an industry-led public-private partnership between the European Commission, European industry and research organisations to accelerate the development and deployment of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. On 6th May 2014, the Council of the European Union formally agreed to continue the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative under the EU Horizon 2020 Framework. The second phase - FCH 2 JU - will have a ring-fenced total budget of 1.33 billion euros, provided on a matched basis between the public-private partnership.
- As a founding member of the FCH JU the NEW-IG is the sole industry partner in this unique public-private partnership NEW-IG works to accelerate the market deployment of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies by, among others, helping formulate the priorities of the FCH JU annual and multi-annual implementation plans.
- The N.ERGHY association was formed in 2008 by the European research community to effectively represent its interests within the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (FCH JTI). The objective of N.ERGHY is to promote, support and accelerate the research and deployment process of fuel cell and hydrogen technology in Europe from the point of view of the research community.
- In its 2009 Directive on the on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (RES Directive, 2009/28/EC), the European Commission committed to presenting a report, by December 2014, addressing the commercial availability of electric, hybrid and hydrogen powered vehicles, as well as the methodology chosen to calculate the share of energy from renewable sources consumed in the transport sector.
- In February 2009, the European Parliament and the Council issued Regulation No. 79/2009 on type-approval of hydrogen-powered motor vehicles. This Regulation facilitated the type-approval procedure provided for by Directive 2007/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council from September 2007, which established a framework for the approval of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for these vehicles. This was followed in 2010 by the implementing Commission Regulation No. 406/2010.
- The International Association for Hydrogen Safety was founded by members of the EC-supported Network of Excellence (NoE) HySafe in February 2009 as a non-profit organisation. The association facilitates networking for the further development and dissemination of knowledge and for the coordination of research activities in the field of hydrogen safety.
- In May 2011 the European Commission conducted a first interim evaluation of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) with the assistance of a group of independent experts. This evaluation covered the assessment of the quality and efficiency of the FCH JU and its progress towards reaching its objectives. The report concluded that the JU approach is generally regarded as a good means to enhance public-private activities in technology development and demonstration. The FCH-JU is considered as a de facto European Industrial Initiative under the SET-Plan.
- The European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) Joint Program on Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technologies was officially launched at the SET-Plan Conference in November 2011 in Warsaw. The Joint Programme aims to accelerate and harmonise long-term research on fuel cells and electrolysers in Europe.
- In October 2012, the International Association for Hydrogen Safety (HySafe), in cooperation with the Institute for Energy and Transport of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC IET Petten) held a two-day workshop dedicated to Hydrogen Safety Research Priorities. The workshop aimed to bring together stakeholders to address the existing knowledge gaps in the area of hydrogen safety.
- In 2014 the Joint Research Centre, the European Commission’s in-house science service, published a report on the State of the Art and Research Priorities in Hydrogen Safety. This report aimed to identify the remaining knowledge gaps with a view to facilitating decision-making on the next steps to ensure the full and safe utilisation of hydrogen. As such, it serves as a reference document for researchers/scientists and technical (including industry) experts working in the area, such as the European Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking and other funding bodies/organizations worldwide, such as the Fuel Cell Technology Office of US-DoE, that must make decisions on research programmes and on the selection of projects to be financially supported.
- In October 2014, the European Parliament and Council issued Directive 2014/94/EU on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure. This Directive stresses the importance of building up sufficient hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in order to make larger-scale hydrogen-powered motor vehicle deployment possible.
- In November 2014, the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) organised its Programme Review Days and Stakeholder Forum. This event, held annually since 2011, brought policy-makers together with high-ranking representatives from across the fuel cells and hydrogen industrial sector as well as potential customers for the technology.
- The FP7-funded H2FC European research infrastructure project and the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Programme organised a European Progress Review on research and development in hydrogen and fuel cells science and engineering in Brussels in April 2015. This meeting aimed to complement the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) Programme Review Days and to present two important documents: the Implementation Plan (IP) of the EERA FC&H2 Joint Programme, which prioritizes the basic research necessary in hydrogen and fuel cell science and engineering, and the result of a progress review survey carried out by H2FC.
General SET-Plan related news and activities from JRC/SETIS
- In May 2015, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s in-house science service, published its PV Status Report 2014, which provides comprehensive and relevant information on this dynamic sector for the interested public, as well as decision-makers in policy and industry. The Capacities Map report, provides an assessment of public and corporate R&D investment in low-carbon energy technologies in the EU. Also in May, the JRC published a report on Retaining critical competences in nuclear energy sector: national initiatives and best practices, instruments and tools.
- The EERA Executive Committee met in Amsterdam on June 24-25. This meeting is an annual event that brings the Executive Committee members, the Secretariat and Joint Programme Coordinators together to discuss the development of EERA. This year, the agenda covered a range of topics from collaborations with other SET-Plan organisations to the launch of new joint programmes and the EERA strategy.
- The EERA JP on Energy Efficiency in Industrial Processes (EEIP) held its kick-off meeting in Amsterdam on June 23. More than 24 participants from the initial group of leading research organisations and universities from Europe working on the subject joined the meeting to discuss the current strategic set-up and plans for the future. The JP has three sub-programmes: Energy Intensive Industries coordinated by CIRCE/Spain; Manufacturing Industries coordinated by Fraunhofer IFF/Germany; Agro-Food Industrial Processes coordinated by ENEA/Italy.
- In June 2015, the Joint Research Centre, published its 2014 Wind Status Report, which discusses the technology, economics and market aspects of wind energy in Europe and beyond.
- In July 2015 the Joint Research Centre published a report on Perspectives on future large-scale manufacturing of PV in Europe. This report takes a close look at developments in PV manufacturing in Europe and provides information and perspectives on factors which can influence its future development.
- The latest SET-Plan Steering Group meeting was held on July 7 in Brussels. The discussions focused on considerations for the new SET-Plan Communication under preparation in the context of the 5th pillar of the Energy Union, such as: objectives for the European R&I priorities, an enhanced SET-Plan governance and SETIS reporting and monitoring scheme. Two more Steering Group meetings are scheduled for September - one on September 9 in Brussels, and one on September 23 in Luxembourg, following the SET-Plan Conference.
- The 8th SET-Plan Conference will take place on 21-22 September 2015 at the European Convention Centre Luxembourg, during Luxembourg’s Presidency of the European Union Council. The SET-Plan 2015 conference will launch the European debate on the new SET-Plan, and the next steps to implement its actions, at the highest level. The conference focus will be the Communication addressing the European energy system transformation and the role of the SET-Plan due to be adopted in the beginning of September. The new Integrated SET-Plan Communication will define the new Energy R&I Strategy for the EU for the coming years. It will provide the overall framework for promoting strengthened cooperation in Energy R&I between the EU, Member States and stakeholders (research and industry), in order to step up the efforts to bring new, efficient and cost-competitive low-carbon technologies faster to the market and to deliver the energy transition in a cost-competitive way.
Integrated Roadmap and Action Plan
In the context of the process towards the Integrated Roadmap and Action Plan, organisations (universities, research institutes, companies, public institutions and associations) involved in research and innovation activities in the energy field are invited to register in the European energy R&I landscape database, which aims at facilitating partnerships and collaboration across Europe. Registration is open to stakeholders from the EU and H2020 associated countries. Organisations are able to indicate their area of activity according to the energy system challenges and themes, as identified in the SET-Plan process towards an Integrated Roadmap and Action Plan. The document includes fuel cell and hydrogen technologies in connection with a number of challenges and themes as especially valuable in view of their cross-sectoral application (energy, transport, industry). The database is publicly available on the SETIS website. 1
1 To be set in box as in the previous Magazine