Five Daimler buses have been circulating in Bolzano, Italy, since November 2013. They are regularly being used by the local transportation company along two of its urban lines. Through STA SpA, the Province of Bolzano is one of the partners of the EU-funded CHIC project, to which various other local authorities across Europe take part. Ten hydrogen fuel cell Hyundai ix35 have also been deployed in and around Bolzano, in the framework of HyFIVE, another EU-funded project. Twenty-four hydrogen fuelling stations will be opened in that area, in a move to bring carbon emissions to zero in the transport sector by 2050.
Let's go back to the early years of last decade. In Washington, D.C., the Bush Administration earmarked significant resources to develop a hydrogen economy, whereas in Brussels the Prodi Commission launched the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU). Best-selling scholar Jeremy Rifkin, author of "The Hydrogen Economy", advocated a future in which mankind would eventually be able to break free from fossil fuels and from the conflicts associated with them. Since then, some of the most developed countries have been working to put their own businesses and research institutions in a position to rise to the challenges arising from the development of these technologies in the years ahead. Others have let their initial interest slowly fade, also because of their inability to develop a shared and long-term integrated energy and environmental policy strategy. This contributed to generate a perception that hydrogen is the fuel of a future still very far away in time.
Where do we stand today? Don't the administrators and managers of Bolzano have anything better to do? Is theirs just an expensive whim, or maybe they made well informed decisions before pouring resources into these technologies? What is happening beyond Italy? What is the situation in Germany, in Japan, in the United Kingdom, in Scandinavia, in South Korea, in the United States and even in Dubai? More in general, which technologies will allow us to clean up the air we breathe and reduce our carbon footprint to zero in the years to come?
This policy brief provides a comprehensive overview of the environmental, economic and regulatory framework at European level, and analyses the state of the art of hydrogen fuel cell technologies for transport. It also lists the main European funding streams that can contribute to the development of hydrogen mobility, and describes what is happening in Europe, in Asia and in the Americas. Data emerging from original documents or relevant studies conducted by companies or organisations of international standing are also provided, all directly accessible through specific links. The development strategies of major car manufacturers are finally presented, and the study ends with a brief analysis of the challenges and opportunities arising from the recent European directive on alternative fuels infrastructure.
The policy brief is available in English and Italian.