Representatives of industry, the research community and the European institutions launched the EUR 1 billion Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) at an event in Brussels, Belgium on 14 October.
'This is a significant moment for the hydrogen and fuel cell industry,' stated Professor Herbert Kohler, Vice-President of Vehicle and Powertrain at Daimler, adding that the launch of the JTI marked the culmination of several years of work by a lot of people across a range of sectors.
Over the next six years, the Commission and industry will plough almost EUR 500 million each into the initiative, with the aim of accelerating the development of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and bringing them to the market by 2020. It is estimated that the JTI's activities will reduce the time to market for these technologies by two to five years.
The new JTI brings together over 60 private companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large multinationals, together with leading energy research groups from across Europe. 'This is the smartest way of working together, moving in the same direction towards a shared goal,' said Professor Kohler.
The JTI has been set up as a Joint Undertaking under Article 171 of the EC Treaty. Its work will be overseen by a Governing Board comprising representatives from research, industry and the Commission. An Executive Director and the Programme Office will manage the day-to-day running of the organisation. Further input will come from three advisory boards.
'The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative is the best possible vehicle to accelerate the development of technologies and bring the commercialisation of hydrogen and fuel cells forward,' added Gijs van Breda Vriesman, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Joint Undertaking.
'To prepare the market for these strategic technologies it is necessary to ensure the cooperation of all stakeholders: it is not only needed for the relevant industrial sectors to develop the supply chain, but it is also critical to ensure the cooperation between research, industry and government, at regional, national and European level.'
The JTI will focus its efforts on four main areas: transportation and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure; hydrogen production and distribution; stationary power generation and combined heat and power (CHP); and early markets (fuel cell products that are almost ready for commercialisation). The JTI's first call for proposals, which has a budget of EUR 28.1 million, has already been launched.
'By investing in such a results-oriented scientific project, we are putting our money where our mouth is: the development of new energy technologies is crucial if we are to meet EU objectives to address climate change and energy challenges,' commented the EU Science and Research Commissioner, Janez Potocnik. 'This JTI brings together the most significant players to put Europe ahead of the game in new energy technologies. I hope this will have a snowball effect in other strategic research areas.'
The EU's Council of Ministers gave the green light to the establishment of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen JTI at the end of May 2008. Other JTIs to have been established so far focus on innovative medicines (IMI), embedded computer systems (ARTEMIS), nanoelectronics (ENIAC) and aeronautics and air transport (Clean Sky).