Posts Tagged 'FCH'

Shifting the Climate Paradigm – Hydrogen and the COP15

By:  Mikael Sloth, H2 Logic, Denmark

Towards the commercial use of hydrogen as a clean energy carrier

If you’re following the development of the COP15 negotiations ahead of the actual event, you will notice the focus given to carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies and even more to emission trading schemes (ETS). The reality however, is that concentrating the climate change debate on “dealing with” CO2 emissions only means concentrating on damage control.

Options such as CCS and ETS are useful as short-term solutions to a consequence, but do not tackle the root of the problem. The COP15 negotiations must go deeper than “a posteriori” solutions and face the more challenging and politically-difficult issue of our dependency on limited fossil fuels.

In this context, technologies such as fuel cells and hydrogen (FCH), which enable an increase usage of clean energy, will be key. For example, fuel cells improve the usage of renewable electricity to produce hydrogen that in its turn can act as a convenient, fossil-free and zero-emission fuel. Hydrogen can be used in the same way as gasoline and diesel and with the same end-user convenience.

The FCH industry is especially interested in being part of the COP15 solution-mix as they are at a critical stage in their road towards mass-market: the benefits are proven, the technology exists, but not financially attractive enough to become main-stream and make a significant dent in global carbon emissions. A clear support in Copenhagen will boost already-existing FCH governmental programmes and increase the market’s confidence in these technologies. It would also push FCH into the technical breakthrough and volume build-up needed to improve costs, performance, materials, reliability and durability.

In people’s minds, the world “hydrogen” is never far away from the word “future”, a future where the only thing coming out of an exhaust pipe is a crystalline drop of water. But in fact, there are already hydrogen cars on the road and as you read this, hydrogen buses are carrying commuters in dozens of cities around the world.

To pull conversations around FCH to the present tense and raise awareness among COP15 delegates, the industry decided to organise an H2 Parade in Copenhagen. On 30 November, a column of the latest hydrogen-powered vehicles from major car manufactures will cross the bridge between Sweden and Denmark driven by politicians and celebrities. Starting at a hydrogen refueling station in Malmö, the Parade will end at the Danish National Parliament where manufacturers and energy companies will give an update on the status of hydrogen for transport and their plans for mass commercialisation.

During the COP15, a fleet of H2 cars will also shuttle delegates around the city.

In last week’s FT, journalist John Reed wrote that “the greening of the world’s car fleet is a fact. The main question is which technology carmakers will use to get there.” We believe that FCH is the perfect solution for a world where freedom of movement without a carbon footprint can co-exist.

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