On The Way towards a Hydrogen Economy Shared by div11964

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									                        Harvard University

                Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

                 Graduate Course: EU-US Relations

           Prof. Stanley Hoffmann/Prof. Louise Richardson



                           Tim RUSCHE




  On The Way towards a Hydrogen Economy: Shared

Transatlantic Goals and Potential Transatlantic Conflicts




                                                            I
Content


ON THE WAY TOWARDS A HYDROGEN ECONOMY: SHARED
TRANSATLANTIC GOALS AND POTENTIAL TRANSATLANTIC CONFLICTS I

CONTENT                                                                                  II

INTRODUCTION                                                                             1
I.         The environmental impact of fossil fuels                                      1
      1.     Immediately toxic substances                                                1
      2.     Green House Gases                                                           2

II.        The security concerns                                                          2

III.         The rapid growth of fossil fuel consumption in developing countries          3


FIRST SECTION: ON THE WAY TOWARDS THE HYDROGEN ECONOMY                                   4
I.         Hydrogen and the hydrogen economy                                             5
      1.     Hydrogen, the energy carrier of the future?                                 5
      2.     The scenarios for a hydrogen economy                                        6

II.      Open questions                                                                   8
      1.    How should the hydrogen be produced?                                          9
         a)    Hydrogen production from fossil fuels                                      9
         b)    Hydrogen production from biomass                                          10
         c)    Hydrogen production from renewable energies and nuclear energy            10
      2.    Is hydrogen as green as it seems?                                            11
      3.    What kind of infrastructure should be put in place?                          12
      4.    What is the role of the state in the introduction of the hydrogen economy?   15
         a)    The island front runners                                                  15
         b)    California                                                                16


SECOND SECTION: SHARED TRANSATLANTIC GOALS AND POTENTIAL
TRANSATLANTIC CONFLICTS                                  17
I.       The US and the EU projects on hydrogen                                          17
      1. The US hydrogen policies                                                        18
         a) FreedomCAR                                                                   18
         b) FreedomFUEL                                                                  19
         c)    Other programs relevant to the hydrogen economy                           19
         d)    Summary of the US policy                                                  20
      2. The European Union’s hydrogen policy                                            20
         a)    The EU hydrogen initiative                                                21
         b)    The internal disagreements                                                24
      3. The EU-US agreement on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies                      27

II.        Analysis of the transatlantic hydrogen relations                              27



                                                                                         II
 1.    Shared goals and potential conflicts                          27
      a) The role of renewable energies                              28
      b) The role of industry and basic research                     29
      c) The role of clean coal and carbon sequestration             29
      d) The potential role of nuclear power                         30
 2.    Explanations for the potential conflicts                      30
    a)   The strategic interests underlying the choice of hydrogen   30
    b)   A different attitude towards technological change           32


CONCLUSION                                                           32

BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                         34




                                                                     III
Introduction

Both in the US and in Europe, politicians,1 scientists2 and managers3 realize that an

economy based on fossil fuels is not sustainable in the long run, for mainly three

reasons:4

     -   The environmental impact of burning fossil fuels

     -   The security concerns linked to a dependence on Russia, the Middle East or

         Africa for oil and gas

     -   The rapid increase in the consumption of fossil fuels by developing countries,

         especially by China and India


    I.   The environmental impact of fossil fuels

Burning fossil fuels produces two kinds of pollutants: those that immediately affect

humans because of their toxicity and those that only on the long run affect humans,

notably because of climate change caused by so-called green house gases (GHG).


     1. Immediately toxic substances

The use of fossil fuels in stationary combustion plants, e.g. power plants, steel plants,

heating plants, and mobile combustion machines, especially cars and trucks, sets free a

range of toxic substances and of substances that are precursors of toxic substances. The

most prominent examples are:



1
  Abraham, p. 1; Prodi, p. 1; Wallstroem, p. 1, de Palacio, p. 1.
2
  Nitsch, p. 20
3
  Battershell, p. 1; Bentham, slide 2.
4
  Schrope, p. 682.


                                                                                            1
    -   Sulfur oxides (SOX): Sulfur oxides, caused by the burning of coal in plants and

        for private heating, were responsible for the bad air quality in the major European

        cities in the first half of the 20th century. The most famous example is the big

        London smog, killing thousands of people in the 1950ies.

    -   Nitrate oxides (NOX): Nitrate oxides, together with Sulfur oxides, became famous

        in the late 70ies and early 80ies, when it was discovered that they were the main

        source of acid rain.

    -   Stratospheric ozone: Stratospheric ozone is produced by a chemical reaction of

        the pollutants emitted mainly by cars and trucks with sunlight in the summer time.


    2. Green House Gases

The burning of fossil fuels sets free CO2, which is the main green house gas, responsible

for the human-made climate change that is being observed on earth.


II.     The security concerns

The resources for oil and gas in Europe are close to depletion, except for Norway; the US

still has a lot of oil available, but extracting it will mean to put at risk the treasures of

nature in the arctic. Already today, both the US and Europe depend to a large extent on

importation of fossil fuels from the Middle East, Russia and Africa.

Only few of the oil- and gas producing countries are stable democracies in the western

sense; being dependent on their resources thus is problematic for two reasons:

    -   Risk of government change

In the event of a revolution or a regime change, the supply of oil or gas may be suddenly

disrupted. This can cause heavy impacts on the concerned economies.



                                                                                                2
       -    Loss of independence

At the same time, Western governments may be less incline to critique the violation of

human rights in the concerned countries, as they do not want to put at risk the oil

delivery.


III.        The rapid growth of fossil fuel consumption in developing countries

The rapid increase of consumption of fossil fuels in countries like China and India is

problematic for two reasons:

       -    Limited amount of resources available

The total amount of fossil fuels is limited; there is considerable debate at the moment

whether we will have exploited half of the resources rather in eight or in thirty years;5

however, once this point is passed, the price of fossil fuels will continuously increase.6

       -    Environmental impact

The increased use of fossil fuels has devastating impacts on the air quality in the major

urban areas of China and India; the climate change will go on even faster, with India and

China emitting more and more CO2.

           An increasingly popular solution for these problems is the transition towards a

hydrogen economy. Both the US and Europe have launched major research efforts in this

area; venture capitalists, car makers, producers of heating vessels and engineers are

putting considerable effort in realizing that vision. In this paper, I will first explain what

the hydrogen economy is and what the major open questions are; in the second part, I will




5
    Rifkin, Hydrogen, p. 13 ff., describes the state of the current debate.
6
    Rifkin, Hydrogen, p. 27.


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analyze to what extent the US and the EU share common goals, and what potential future

conflicts may look like.


First Section: On the Way Towards the Hydrogen Economy

The term “Hydrogen economy” was first used in 1970 by engineers of the US car maker

General Motors.7 Jeremy Rifkin made it popular when he published his 2002 book “The

Hydrogen Economy”. It refers to the idea that we use hydrogen instead of fossil fuels in

all branches of the economy. The idea of using hydrogen as energy carrier is not new:

since hydrogen was discovered by the British scientist Henry Cavendish in 1766, its

possible uses have been debated by scientists as well as by writers of science fiction. One

of the most prominent examples is Jules Verne’s “The mysterious island”, where an

engineer tells his colleagues: “Yes, my friends, I believe that water will one day be

employed as fuel, that hydrogen and oxygen which constitute it, used singly or together,

will furnish an inexhaustible source of heat and light, of an intensity of which coal is not

capable.... Water will be the coal of the future”. After World War I, the research and use

of hydrogen as a fuel started in Britain and Germany. During World War II, Germany,

but also Australia and the US experimented with hydrogen as a replacement for oil. In the

US, hydrogen was then used for the space ship program; during the oil crisis in the

1970ies, hydrogen received anew a lot of attention all over the world as a possible

replacement of oil.8

       The three reasons given in the beginning – environmental impact of oil, energy needs

of the developing world and political instability of the oil – and gas supplying regions

7
    The conversation that coined the phrase is reported in Bockris, p. 731 f.
8
    Dunn, p. 236.


                                                                                               4
explain the new attention hydrogen gained during the last two or so years. This time, the

interest seems likely to last, as both government and private venture capital firms have

invested and promised to invest substantial amounts of money into the build-up of a

hydrogen economy.

   What exactly is hydrogen, and in what respect will a hydrogen economy be different

from our current system? And what are the open questions today?


              I.   Hydrogen and the hydrogen economy

First, the most important chemical features of hydrogen and its possible uses will be

explained. Then, we will describe the different scenarios for a hydrogen economy.


                   1. Hydrogen, the energy carrier of the future?

Hydrogen, H2, is the lightest element of the periodic system. A hydrogen molecule

consists of one proton and one electron; at the normal temperature, hydrogen is a gas and

diffuses very easily. It is highly reactive, which explains why it is only rarely found in

gaseous form in nature; it is a component of water (H20) and all fossil fuels (which

consist of carbon (C), oxygen (O) and hydrogen).

     As hydrogen cannot be found in huge amounts in nature, it is not a primary fuel, but

an energy carrier. As such, it can be compared to electricity: both have first to be

produced from some primary fuel and can then in turn be used as energy. Hydrogen can

be produced from three different sources: from fossil fuels (gas, oil, carbon), from

biomass and from renewable sources (water, wind, solar). The production process and the

pros and cons of the different sources will be explained in detail in the second part “Open

questions”.



                                                                                             5
      It has one major advantage compared to electricity: it can be easily stored. This

means it can be used for mobile applications, such as fuelling cars, laptops, cell phones

without having to rely on batteries. Instead, the hydrogen is either burned, similar to a

fossil fuel, or its energy is exploited via a fuel cell, in a process which is the inversion of

electrolysis, i.e. the separation of water into hydrogen and oxygen. In both cases, the

hydrogen reacts with oxygen to water and releases energy.9


                      2. The scenarios for a hydrogen economy

Today, hydrogen is used on a large scale in the chemical industry, e.g. to produce

fertilizers.10 It is also already used in niche markets as an energy carrier. Examples

include stationery fuel cells, which serve as emergency electricity generators or even

provide all the electricity for especially sensible companies, such as hospitals and banks,

and mobile fuel cells for powering a laptop.11

      The visionaries of the hydrogen economy foresee the use of hydrogen for two

different purposes: transportation and combined heat and power (CHP) generation. The

expected benefits are different for the two areas.


             a) Hydrogen in transportation

The replacement of fossil fuels by hydrogen in transportation, i.e. for cars, trucks, busses,

ships, and airplanes, can resolve the problem of toxic substances emitted by the different

means of transportation, as the only exhaust of a hydrogen engine is water vapor.

Whether it also resolves the problem of climate change depends on how the hydrogen is

produced (see part two “Open questions”). Today, all the major car makers develop

9
  For an extensive explanation, cf. Larminie/Dickens; Norbeck et al.
10
   Nitsch, p. 3.
11
   Freedman, p. 46.


                                                                                                  6
hydrogen cars.12 Their concepts differ as far as the source of the hydrogen is concerned.

There are two basic options: directly refueling the car with hydrogen via a system of gas

stations, or producing the hydrogen on board of the car.

     -    Storing hydrogen on board of the car

The problem of storing hydrogen on board of the car is that hydrogen takes much more

volume than petrol for comparable amounts of energy content. Designing a car with a

decent range thus requires a very fuel-efficient car and more space than for a

conventional car. It seems, however, that this problem is about to being solved by the car

makers.13 The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), one of the leading environmental think

tanks in the US, has already patented a hyper-efficient car capable of storing enough

hydrogen on board for long-range journeys.14

     -    Producing the hydrogen on board of the car

There are two different models for the production of hydrogen on board of the car: either

the transformation of gasoline, or the transformation of methanol. The gasoline

transformation has the advantage of tapping into the existing system of petrol stations;

however, it seems that this approach is less efficient then the existing internal combustion

motors. The use of methanol is difficult for two reasons: Methanol is toxic, and there is

no existing net of petrol stations for it.15

         Exxon Mobil lobbied hard for the gasoline solution, and the US Department of

Energy spent millions of research money on this. Daimler Chrysler explored the

methanol option for $ 1 billion. It seems, however, that today all of the carmakers have


12
   Jeong/Oh, p. 58; Westbrook, p. 173; Doenitz, slide 1 ff.; Nakamura, slide 1 ff.
13
   Cf., besides the references in the previous footnote, The Economist, p. 59.
14
   Lovins, p. 30.
15
   Schrope, p. 682 ff.


                                                                                            7
abandoned that solution, as it adds complexity and weight to the car and produces some

tail-pipe emissions. Instead, car makers, oil companies and governments are now pushing

for the set-up of a hydrogen fuel-station network. 16


              b) Hydrogen in heat and electricity generation

The argument for hydrogen in CHP generation is an efficiency argument: given the high

losses of energy in electricity production and transmission, it could be more efficient to

transform the fossil fuels first into hydrogen and then transport the hydrogen and burn it.

In addition, a hydrogen system may be more reliable and able to integrate intermittent

renewable sources of energy, wind and solar, better into the system.17 The German

company Vaillant offers already a vessel with a fuel cell for households.

         The big challenge will be the construction of a hydrogen infrastructure to provide

all the car-owners and vessel-owners with the hydrogen necessary to run their engines.

This is one of the open questions for the hydrogen economy.


              II.     Open questions

As with any major new technology, many questions remain open with regard to the

hydrogen economy. The main open points are:

     -    How should the hydrogen be produced?

     -    Is hydrogen really as “green” as it seems?

     -    What kind of infrastructure should be put in place?

     -    What is the role of the state in the introduction of the hydrogen economy?



16
   The Economist, p. 59.
17
   Intermittent means that the energy flow is not steady, but depends on whether the sun is shining/the wind
is blowing in sufficient amounts.


                                                                                                           8
         To each and every question, there is more than one answer. In this section, we will

lay out the alternatives. In the second section, we will analyze which of the options the

different players involved have chosen.


                          1. How should the hydrogen be produced?

There are three main potential sources for the hydrogen production: fossil fuels, biomass

and renewable energy sources. To other techniques, the production of hydrogen through

thermo-chemical cycles using cheap high temperature heat from nuclear or concentrated

solar energy and the biological production through algae and bacteria which produce

hydrogen directly in some conditions, are still in early stages of the development.18


                 a) Hydrogen production from fossil fuels

Fossil fuels, i.e. mainly oil, coal and natural gas, can be used to produce hydrogen in two

different ways: the catalytic synthesis of hydrogen, often called “reforming”, and the

“indirect” way of first burning the fossil fuel to produce electricity and then using the

electricity for electrolysis, i.e. the separation of H2O into O and H2 via the use of

electricity. The first way is far more energy-efficient and thus preferred.

         The catalytic synthesis consists of two steps. First, the sulfur contained in the fossil

fuel has to be removed through a catalytic hydrodesulphurization. In a second step, the

remaining hydro carburant (HC) is transformed in a steam reforming reaction with steam

(H2O) into hydrogen and CO2.19

         From an environmental point of view, the catalytic synthesis of hydrogen from

fossil fuels is cleaner (as the sulfur can be easily “caught”) and more energy-efficient


18
     European Commission, Vision, p. 25.
19
     For a description of the process, see Farrauto et al., p. 4ff.


                                                                                                9
than the production of electricity and its transport. The problem remains, however, that

the catalytic synthesis produces CO2, and thus contributes to global climate change. The

proponents of producing hydrogen from fossil fuels, especially coal, argue that the CO2

can be caught as well and then be safely stored, e.g. in former gas wells underground (so-

called carbon-sequestration), or injected into the oceans.20 It is at the moment unclear,

however, whether the carbon sequestration will be economically viable and whether the

CO2 can indeed be safely stored in former oil wells or be injected into the oceans, as the

proponents of these methods suggest.21


               b) Hydrogen production from biomass

Another way around the CO2 problem is the use of biomass, i.e. agricultural and forestry

waste. Using a catalyst, e.g. Raney-Nickel, hydrogen can be stripped of the biomass. This

process also generates CO2, but as the plant was absorbing the same amount of CO2

during its growth, the process is climate-neutral.22


               c) Hydrogen production from renewable energies and nuclear energy

The other way around the CO2 problem is the production of hydrogen from renewable

energy sources such as water, wind and solar energy. In this case, the renewable energy

source is first used to produce electricity, and the electricity is then transformed into

hydrogen via electrolysis. The same pattern is also possible for nuclear energy.

       However, this solution presupposes that all the energy needs of the planet can be

covered by energy from renewable energy sources or nuclear power plants. Otherwise, it

would be more efficient to use the electricity as such, as the electrolysis implies an

20
   Bockris, p. 734.
21
   Fischedick/Nitsch, p. 2.
22
   Cortright et al., p. 964 ff.; Service, p. 1.


                                                                                            10
energy loss. If the renewable electricity used for electrolysis had to be replaced by

electricity from fossil fuels, we would otherwise in sum increase the CO2 production. A

complete switch to renewable energy sources and nuclear energy seems possible on the

medium to long term, but not on the short term. This third option for hydrogen

production is thus more a long-term strategy.23


                       2. Is hydrogen as green as it seems?

As a reaction on the huge public interest for hydrogen created by Rifkin’s book and the

presentation of the first hydrogen cars on car shows, a debate has set in whether hydrogen

is as green as it is marketed.24 The debate focuses on two issues: the question of what

energy source (renewable or not) is used to produce the hydrogen,25 and the question of

whether the car industry tries to “greenwash” itself by promoting hydrogen cars.26

      The question of the energy source is centered around the question whether clean

coal is clean, and whether a car fueled by hydrogen produced from coal or natural gas is

more energy-efficient than a modern conventional car. The research undertaken in this

area shows that at the current state of technology, a hydrogen car is cleaner only if the

hydrogen is not produced on board, but provided at a gas station.27

      The greenwashing critique goes as follows: the automobile industry promises fuel-

cell cars and a hydrogen distribution system in five to ten years in the future. In the

meantime, they refuse to improve the fuel efficiency of their cars and sell polluting SUV,

using a loophole in the CAFE standards. This critique certainly has a point. However, it


23
   Nitsch, p. 20 ff., Stevens, slide 3 ff.
24
   See for example Eggertson, p. 56; Spencer, p. 1; Scientific American, p. 8; Phillimore, p. 30 ff.
25
   Eggertson, p. 56; Spencer, p. 1.
26
   Scientific American, p. 8.
27
   Kreith, p. 48.


                                                                                                       11
has to be acknowledged that the car industry is spending considerable amounts of money

for the development of fuel cell cars.


                     3. What kind of infrastructure should be put in place?

As hydrogen is an energy carrier, it needs the support of an infrastructure. There are

different visions for the infrastructure needs of a hydrogen economy.

        The first steps are possible without installing an infrastructure. The Vaillant heating

vessels use natural gas, as it arrives in the household, and transform it into hydrogen via a

catalytic synthesis. In this way, they reach higher efficiencies then a conventional vessel;

in addition, they also produce electricity, giving autonomy to the household using it. If

cars have an on-board transformer (see above), they can use the existing network of gas

stations.

        A hydrogen infrastructure would consist of the following elements:

    -    Central plants producing the hydrogen, either using electricity produced by

         nuclear power plants, wind farms, solar parks or catalytic synthesis using clean

         coal and gas technologies.

    -    A distribution system consisting of pipelines and fuel station stations

    -    End-use applications using either the pipeline system (stationery sources, such as

         heating vessels and small power plants) or the fuel station system (cars, trucks,

         ships, airplanes).

        Local hydrogen pipelines have been in use for over 50 years in Germany’s Ruhr

area, linking different chemical companies needing hydrogen; also in the US, a total of

more than 700 km of pipelines is in use, mainly in the Great Lake region and along the




                                                                                             12
gulf cost. Similar pipelines can be found in France, Belgium and Canada. The

infrastructure is thus feasible.28 The main question is: in what steps should it be build up?

       Different authors suggest different strategies for the development of a hydrogen

infrastructure. The proposals that have found the most attention in the literature and

amongst policy makers and companies are the following:

       Jensen and Ross29, researchers at the University of Michigan, suggest starting with

cars. They propose to use small-scale natural gas reformers at petrol stations that are fed

by the existing natural gas pipeline system. They want to install in a first phase 10,000

such reformers, which corresponds to 10 to 15% of the existing US petrol stations, a

measure estimated at $ 3 to 15 billion. This would be enough to kick-start a mass demand

and mass production of fuel cell-powered cars. A similar proposal has been made in a

recent report of General Motors, which argues for a roll-out of 12,000 such hydrogen

reformers, giving access to hydrogen to 70% of the US population for $ 10 to 12 billion.30

       Lovins and Williams31 from the RMI develop a different path. They want to start by

deploying fuel cells in buildings, which account for two-thirds of the energy use in the

US. The hydrogen would either come from a natural gas reformer or from electrolysis

done in off-peak hours, i.e. at night when electricity is available in abundance and at

cheap rates. The wide-spread use of fuel cells in buildings will bring fuel cell prices down

far enough to use them in cars. The second step would be the use of fuel cells in super-

efficient “hyper cars” like those developed by RMI (see above). Honda and the American




28
   Dunn, p. 247f.; Schultz et al., p. 625; Delouche, slide 6.
29
   Jensen/Ross, p. 10ff.
30
   The Economist, Dec. 6th, p. 59.
31
   Lovins/Williams, p. 12ff.


                                                                                            13
fuel-cell firm Plug Power have also developed the components necessary for this.32 The

cars use the hydrogen produced by the reformer or electrolysis in the home of the car

owner. While the car is not in use, its fuel cell can be plugged into the bigger stationary

fuel cell and produce electricity, which in turn can be used either for appliances in the

house or be fed back into the grid. If the first two steps have been carried out

successfully, many of the existing power plants can be replaced by a decentralized system

of fuel cells. As the number of users of fuel cells increases, the production of hydrogen

on a large scale basis and its distribution via pipelines starts to make sense; the

installation of huge reformers at gas wells, on off-shore wind parks and on photovoltaic

plants in desserts becomes economically feasible.

         A third option is the slow market introduction of fuel cells in both the automotive

sector and for stationary use in buildings. In the automotive sector, the start is with

busses, as one central refueling station is enough and as there is no problem for storing

large amounts of hydrogen in a bus. Over demonstration projects, the products would

become gradually competitive on the market, first for niche applications, than more and

more widespread. This is the scenario we observe today, even if there are now signs for

the American carmakers’ willingness to follow the General Motors proposal to set up an

infrastructure of 12,000 natural gas reformers at existing gas stations.33 Given the

potential huge gains in environmental quality and maybe also in long-term costs, the big

question is whether it would not be a sound policy to accelerate the transition through

government programs.




32
     The Economist, Dec. 6th, p. 59.
33
     The Economist, Dec. 6th, p. 59.


                                                                                               14
                       4. What is the role of the state in the introduction of the

                           hydrogen economy?

Since the first research money for fuel cells was spent in the 1920ies, many government-

funded research programs of different countries have provided money for the

development of fuel cells and hydrogen. In the beginning, the research had mainly

military and space purposes (see above). Since the first oil crisis in the 1970ies, there has

been more and more research money for civil applications of the fuel cell. One decisive

step was the tender of the Canadian government which allowed Ballard Fuel Cells the

development of the PEM fuel cell in 1983.34 Things have speeded up in the recent years,

the European Union, Japan and the US federal government spending and promising

billions of dollars for fuel cells and the transition towards a hydrogen economy35 (the

programs of Europe and the US will be examined in detail in the second section). In the

last two years, there have also been important initiatives of island states and of California.

As the first European city, London announced a hydrogen initiative.36


             a) The island front runners

Iceland, the state of Hawaii and the small island state of Vanuatu all envision to become

the first complete hydrogen economies, relying on the natural resources of their islands

(i.e. geo-thermal and hydrologic energy) and their relatively small scale to achieve this

ambitious goal. They plan to gradually introduce hydrogen technology for busses, cars,




34
   Koppel, p. 63ff., gives a detailed account of the story of this successful Canadian fuel cell company.
35
   Dunn, p. 255 ff.
36
   Jones, p. 1 ff.


                                                                                                            15
heating and electricity production; on the long run, they plan to export hydrogen and

possibly also the technologies involved, using their first-mover advantage.37


                b) California

California’s legislation on car emissions is main driving force behind the ambitious plans

of the big car makers for hydrogen cars: from 2008 on, 10% of the new cars of each

producer must be “zero-emission” cars according to the state law. The new governor

Schwarzenegger recently launched a huge public-private hydrogen partnership, involving

the state of California and all of the big car-makers and oil-companies.38

           These examples show that there may be a rational for government intervention

beyond the providing of money for research and development and financing

demonstration projects. Two main reasons would justify government intervention:

       -    Huge potential positive externalities: The switch to a hydrogen economy could

            provide huge benefits to the public, especially through improvements in air

            quality and less damage on buildings through acidification. If renewable energy

            (or nuclear power) is used to produced the electricity or if the carbon is

            sequestrated, than there are also huge possible externalities from avoiding climate

            change.

       -    Network effects: A hydrogen infrastructure is a classical example for network

            effects. If there are only few people participating, the use for the single person is

            limited. The more people participate, the better the provision with hydrogen, and

            the cheaper the hydrogen. To reach the “critical mass” for a take-off, government

            intervention may be needed.

37
     Dunn, p. 235; Pearce, p. 34.
38
     The Economist, p. 59.


                                                                                                16
         A third possible argument for government intervention is a potential for creating a

democratic energy infrastructure, overcoming the monopolies and centralized structures

of the hydrocarbon age.39 Whether this can be achieved depends, however, on the path

chosen for the way to a hydrogen economy. Our following analysis of the US and Europe

will show common goals and potential conflicts of their respective hydrogen projects.


Second Section: Shared Transatlantic Goals and Potential

Transatlantic Conflicts

In order to assess the shared transatlantic goals and the potential transatlantic conflicts on

the way towards the hydrogen economy, we first give an overview of the US program,

the European program and the joint statement of US President Bush, the President of the

European Commission, Prodi, and the President of the European Council, Simitis, from

June 2003. We then analyze shared goals and differences, and try to provide an

explanation for the potential conflict lines.


                I.       The US and the EU projects on hydrogen

Both the US and the EU have announced ambitious research programs and policies on

hydrogen. We will present the situation in the US and the situation in the EU, and then

shortly discuss the common statement of President Bush and President Prodi from June

2003.




39
     Rifkin, p. 216 ff., develops the concept of a bottom-up globalization with the aid of hydrogen.


                                                                                                       17
                        1. The US hydrogen policies

The US has launched two major research and development programs for the transition

towards a hydrogen economy, FreedomCAR (launched in January 2002)40 and

FreedomFUEL (announced in January 2003). In the next five years, proposed spending

for the two programs will be $ 1.7 billion.41 In addition, there is a bunch of over research

and development activities related more or less directly to the transition towards a

hydrogen economy.


              a) FreedomCAR

In his State of the Union address in January 2003, President Bush explained the aims of

FreedomCAR to his fellow citizens:

     “Tonight I’m proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in

     developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles. A single chemical reaction between hydrogen and

     oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car — producing only water, not exhaust

     fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to

     taking these cars from laboratory to showroom, so that the first car driven by a child born today could

     be powered by hydrogen, and pollution free.”42

The initiative is at the moment waiting the approval of Congress. During the hearings at

Congress, it became clear that the program will mainly focus on funding industrial

research and development in order to develop cars running with fuel cells.43 University

researchers have criticized the program because it will not include the necessary basic

research;44 and environmentalists fear a “greenwashing of the car industry” (see above).45


40
   Kreith/Eisler, p. 322.
41
   Spencer, p. 2
42
   Bush, p. 3.
43
   Brumfiel, p. 104.
44
   Brumfiel, p. 104.


                                                                                                          18
                b) FreedomFUEL

The FreedomFUEL initiative aims at developing technology to support a US hydrogen

infrastructure, i.e. the production of hydrogen and the delivery to the customers. The

program is funded with $ 720 million. The White House’s FreedomFUEL fact sheet

shows the priorities for the hydrogen production: “Hydrogen can be produced from

abundant domestic resources including natural gas, coal, biomass, and even water.”46

Renewable energy sources are not mentioned. However, secretary of Energy Abraham

Spencer announced that 50% of the 2003 budget were earmarked for hydrogen

production from renewable energy sources.


                c) Other programs relevant to the hydrogen economy

In its recent keynote delivered at the European Union’s 2003 conference on hydrogen47,

the US secretary of Energy, Abraham Spencer, gave an overview over the other US

government activities relevant to the transition to a hydrogen economy:

-    We have made significant progress promoting conservation and increased energy efficiency, and

     expanding the use of clean, renewable energy sources. This year our $1.3 billion funding request for

     energy efficiency and renewable energy programs exceeds funding levels enacted by Congress during

     any of the last 20 years.

-    We have also committed nearly $2 billion to our ten-year Clean Coal Power Initiative, to develop and

     test technologies that improve power plant generation efficiencies and reduce emissions.

-    In addition, we recognize that the challenges posed by carbon-based fuels must receive unique and

     special attention. That's why we have increased our budget for carbon sequestration research by 60

     percent.




45
   Scientific American, p. 8.
46
   Grant, p. 129.
47
   The conference took place on June 16th and 17th 2003 in Brussels.


                                                                                                            19
-      And we recently announced FutureGen, a $1 billion public-private initiative to design, build, and

       operate the world's first coal-fired, emissions-free plant that produces both electricity and hydrogen.

       The goal of FutureGen is to ensure that fossil fuels can become an increasingly clean source of energy,

       not just for the United States, but all nations, particularly developing nations.

The numbers clearly indicate the priorities of the US research: the focus is on the

development and the deployment of Clean Coal Technologies and Carbon Sequestration,

rather than on the hydrogen production from renewable energy sources.


                d) Summary of the US policy

Overall, the picture of the US hydrogen policy is the following: there is an important

financial commitment to produce cars fueled by hydrogen. The main recipients of the

research money are industrial developers, i.e. the big car manufacturers and commercial

fuel cell firms. The choice for the hydrogen production is coal reforming with carbon

sequestration. The concept of the Bush administration has been criticized for the choice

of the recipients of the research money and the focus on coal rather than renewable

energy sources for the hydrogen production.


       2. The European Union’s hydrogen policy

The European Union started massive investment into hydrogen research with its 5th

framework program for research in 1999. In the period covered by the program (1999-

2002), a total of € 130 million has been spent for research on fuel cells and hydrogen

production and storage. The first projects funded by the commission date back into the

late 1970ies; since then, funding has gradually increased from € 8 million in the second

framework program (1988-1992) to today’s figures.48 At the same time, the member


48
     European Commission, Hydrogen, p. 5.


                                                                                                                 20
states also provided research money through national programs. Germany was the main

investor here: from 1975 to 2003, it funded research and development for hydrogen

production from renewable energies with € 100 million, and the development of fuel cells

with € 230 million.49

         The decisive push forward in Europe came in October 2002, when the European

Commission launched the High Level EU advisory group on Hydrogen. A huge hydrogen

conference this June in Brussels showed, however, that there is considerable

disagreement between key EU policy makers about the right hydrogen strategy. We will

present the essential results of the report of the advisory group and analyze where Europe

stands today on hydrogen.


                a) The EU hydrogen initiative

The EU’s push for hydrogen seems to be the work of President Prodi’s adviser Jeremy

Rifkin, the already mentioned author of “The Hydrogen Economy”, who prepared the

strategic white paper leading to the Hydrogen initiative of the EU.50 In October 2002,

Prodi launched the initiative together with the transport and energy commissioner de

Palacio and the research commissioner Busquin. The initiative started by setting up a

high-level advisory group, comprising 19 stakeholders representing the research

community, industry, public authorities and end-users – there were no representatives of

NGOs invited to the table - , and with announcement of a € 2 billion research program. In

June 2003, the group presented its report at the European Union’s conference “The

hydrogen economy – a bridge to sustainability”. The report remains rather vague on

many questions, probably due to the fact that it had to bring many different points of

49
     Adamowitsch, p. 2 ff.
50
     Miles, p. 1; Rifkin, eMagazine, p. 36.


                                                                                         21
views and interests together. The recommendation of the report is to set up a “European

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Partnership”, steered by a Europeen Hydrogen and

Fuel Cell Advisory Council. As the tasks of the partnership, the report identifies the

following list:

   - Creation of a policy framework that is coherent across transport, energy, and environment to

   reward technologies that meet policy objectives;

   - A substantially increased technical research and development budget in hydrogen and fuel cell

   technologies, from fundamental science to validation programmes;

   - A demonstration and pilot programme to extend the technology validation exercises into the

   market development arena, through a number of ‘lighthouse’ demonstration projects;

   - An integrated socio-economic research programme to complement and steer the technical support;

   - A business development initiative, bringing together the different financing organisations to provide

   leadership for technology exploitation

   - A Europe-wide education and training programme, spanning primary schooling to world-class

   research;

   - Enhanced international co-operation, working in partnership with North America and the Pacific

   Rim, as well as the developing world, to speed up the introduction of sustainable energy technologies;

   and

   - A communication and dissemination centre for all these initiatives.

In September 2003, Prodi, de Palacio and Busquin presented a Communication of the

European Commission, which overtook the recommendations of the High Level Working

Group and launched the preparation of the European Hydrogen and Fuel Cells

Technology Partnership. The timetable, the definition of the structure, the terms of

reference of the Advisory Council and the invitation to note interest for participation in




                                                                                                       22
the Advisory Council should have been ready in October 2003;51 however, they still were

not published on the Commission’s web site in early January 2004.

         Two parts of the report are of particular interest, a part its recommendations. First,

the assessment of the research spending of the European Union, which is estimated at €

400 million under the 6th framework program for research, rather than the € 2 billion

announced by Prodi in October 2002.52 Second, the report proposes an ambitious

timetable for the introduction of the hydrogen economy.53 The essential elements are:

     -    Short term (until 2010): In a first step, there will be a substantial need for R and D

          on hydrogen and fuel cells. The report underlines the importance of increasing the

          share of renewable energies and estimates that hydrogen fuel cells can be

          introduced into niche markets where a premium is paid for reliable energy

          production, e.g. for premium electricity and heat production.

     -    Medium term (until 2020): Starting in 2010, the further increase of the use of

          renewable energies is combined with the use of clean coal and clean gas

          technology to produce hydrogen and sequester CO2. The market introduction of

          hydrogen fuel cells first in stationary power and heat production and busses, than

          in cars starts. At the same time, the research for hydrogen production from solar

          and advanced nuclear energy continues.

     -    Long term (beyond 2020): Hydrogen and electricity from renewable energies and

          advanced nuclear energy replace the carbon-based energy carriers. However,



51
   European Commission, Roadmap, p. 1 ff.
52
   Miles, p. 1; European Commission, Vision, p. 15. Prodi insists however on his number, cf. his speech at
the European Union’s Conference on Hydrogen in June 2003, p. 2. Energy and Transport Commissioner de
Palacio in her speech the same day gives € 250 to 300 million as the right number…
53
   European Commission, Vision, p. 21 ff.


                                                                                                       23
            “other environmentally benign options for fuels” are maintained. In the long run,

            also airplanes are using hydrogen as their fuel.


       b) The internal disagreements

The report of the high level group leaves many options open and is much less clear-cut

than the statements of President Prodi in October 2002, where he announced much more

research money and a much stronger commitment to renewable energies as the source of

hydrogen. The speeches given at the European Union conference in June 2003 illustrate

clearly the different camps within the EU.

       -    President Prodi: President Prodi favors a hydrogen economy as described in

            Rifkin’s “The hydrogen economy”. His long-term vision is a hydrogen economy

            based solely on hydrogen produced by renewable energies. He does not mention

            advanced nuclear power. The following statement sums up his position:

       Other authorities throughout the world are moving in a similar direction, and we are fully open to

       international cooperation, which we are keen to encourage. But let us be clear about what makes the

       European hydrogen programme trulyvisionary. It is our declared goal of achieving a step-by-step

       shift towards a fully integrated hydrogen economy, based on renewable energy sources, by the

       middle of the century.54

            As far as clean coal and gas are concerned, he gives a very nuanced statement:

       There are many who support changing over to a hydrogen economy, involving natural gas and coal

       gasification with carbon-dioxide sequestration. This may not sound fully in line with our stated

       environmental objectives. But it might provide common ground in the short term between

       environmentalists and the energy industry, between the long-term vision and short-to-medium-term

       needs. We support these efforts and we want to cooperate on research with the US, Japan and any

       others wishing to take part and ready to share resources and programmes. We want all to make a


54
     Prodi, p. 1.


                                                                                                             24
       special effort to step up progress towards using renewable energy technologies and the extraction of

       hydrogen from water and biomass. In this connection, we will continue to push for tough standards for

       transport and the conservation of existing fossil resources, while fully supporting the Kyoto Protocol.55

       -    de Palacio: Transport and Energy Commissioner de Palacio takes a different

            approach. She first “welcomes” the Carbon Sequestration Initiative of the US

            government and sees Clean Coal as the medium-term solution for the developing

            world. She then stresses that all renewable energies except for solar energy are

            limited in their capacity and thus will only play a minor role for the energy mix of

            the future. As the only possible sources of hydrogen, she views solar energy and

            advanced nuclear technology.56

       -    Wallstroem: Environment Commissioner Wallstroem first expresses her doubts

            about the feasibility of clean coal technologies, points to the fact that the majority

            of the EU member states have abandoned nuclear energy and that thus the only

            viable pathway is hydrogen production from renewable energies. Her words:

       Many researchers, both in industry and academia, have demonstrated the tremendous discrepancy

       in terms of greenhouse gas emissions between the various pathways for the production of

       hydrogen. Those pathways that are based primarily on continued use of fossil resources, in particular

       coal and oil, may even lead to rising greenhouse gas emissions. CO2 capture and storage, for

       instance in oil and gas reservoirs, if it can be made to work, might be part of the solution. For the

       technology to move ahead though we need to demonstrate that it is cost-effective and

       environmentally sound on a long-term basis. Politically, however CO2 capture and storage cannot

       replace efforts to change our energy system and consumption patterns or to implement the Kyoto

       Protocol. Nuclear energy is of course CO2 neutral and could be used to produce hydrogen. Everyone

       has his or her own views on nuclear energy. It is a fact that most Member States do not see nuclear



55
     Prodi, p. 2 f.
56
     de Palacio, p. 1ff.


                                                                                                              25
       as a long-term energy option at this stage. There are concerns about safety and that we have not yet

       solved the problem of storage of nuclear waste. If we think of a global hydrogen economy, it

       would also raise important security concerns, for instance in the context of proliferation of nuclear

       technology. I conclude that our overall goal should be to make renewables the most important

       source of energy for the production of hydrogen. Of course, this is not going to happen overnight.

       It is a vision . and a vision that is as challenging as the emergence of the hydrogen economy itself. In

       this vision, hydrogen, renewables and energy efficiency are the three pillars of a sustainable

       energy future. Just as for hydrogen and fuel cells, building the renewable pillar will require a

       major, sustained effort with actions very similar to the five actions mentioned by the high level

       group. It must become an integral part of our overall hydrogen strategy.

         The same policy disagreements can be found between member states, where France

and Spain traditionally lobby for nuclear energy, whereas the Scandinavians and the

Netherlands push for renewable energies. Even within the member states, there are

divisions, most remarkably in Germany, where the green minister of the Environment,

Trittin, favors the strengthening of renewable energies, while the socialist minister for

labour and the economy tries to push for clean coal.

         The environmental NGOs and the environmental think tanks in Europe are all very

doubtful whether clean coal and carbon sequestration are environmentally sound and

economically viable; their vision is a hydrogen economy starting in the short term with

stationary fuel cells using natural gas for combined heat power production, combined

with improvements in energy efficiency of cars and buildings. The hydrogen economy is

for them a long-term vision, once renewable energy sources attain 50 to 80% of the total

energy production. At this stage, hydrogen is necessary to achieve the transition to 100%

renewable energy.57


57
     Nitsch, p. 20 ff.


                                                                                                               26
       3. The EU-US agreement on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies

At the EU-US summit on June 25, 2003, in Washington, Presidents Bush, Prodi and

Simitis signed a Joint Statement on the Hydrogen Economy. According to the statement,

the US and the EU

        “see the potential of the hydrogen economy in establishing a secure energy supply through clean and

       environmentally sound systems. [They] will seek to build on complementarities in [their] research

       efforts in exploring actively all technology options, including a major focus on renewable energy

       sources, for boosting the development of hydrogen energy.”

They plan to achieve common standards, to enhance the cooperation in research and

development and to work together to foster public-private collaboration.


       II. Analysis of the transatlantic hydrogen relations

Observers of the Washington summit noted that the Joint Statement was hiding some

essential disagreements between the US and the EU on how to proceed with the hydrogen

economy.58 In the following, we will first analyze the shared goals and potential conflicts

between the US and the EU on hydrogen, and then give explanations for the differences.


                                 1. Shared goals and potential conflicts

The US and the EU share the goal of pushing the development of fuel cells and their use

in stationary plants and transportation. They also share the quest for an affordable way of

creating the necessary hydrogen. The main potential conflicts are the role of renewable

energies, the role of industry and basic research, the role of clean coal and carbon

sequestration, and potentially the role of nuclear power.



58
     Landler, p. 1.


                                                                                                           27
                                a) The role of renewable energies

The EU has fixed itself in a 2001 bill the goal of producing by 2010 22% of its electricity

and 12% of its total energy consumption from renewable energy sources.59 This is part of

the EU’s effort to meet the obligations resulting from the Kyoto protocol. In its 6th

Environmental Action Program, the European Union even goes a step further and sets the

mid-term goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emission by 30% in the medium term and

by 70% in the long term.60 In order to achieve the ambitious goals for renewable energies

and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the use of hydrogen as energy carrier is in

the long run essential, as it is the only way to store energy from intermittent sources of

renewable energies and as it is the only possibility to switch the transport sector to

renewable energy.61 For the US administration, the increase in the share of renewable

energy is not a priority.62 It was included into the joint statement of Bush and Prodi only

on Prodi’s insisting.63

      As showed above, the opinions on what the exact role of renewable energies should

be diverge within the EU. But none of the member states has questioned the commitment

to Kyoto and to further reductions of greenhouse gases, and all agree that there is an

important place for renewable energies in the future energy mix.




59
   Directive 2001/44/EC of the Council and the European Parliament on the promotion of electricity from
renewable energy sources in the internal market, Official Journal L 283, 27/10/2001, p. 0033-0040.
60 th
   6 Environmental Action Program, Decision 1600/2002/EG of the Council and the European Parliament,
22/07/2002, available on-line http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/newprg/index.htm.
61
   Landler, p. 1; Nitsch, p. 20 ff.
62
   Randerson, p. 12.
63
   Landler, p. 1.


                                                                                                    28
This difference is also visible in the amount of research money spend on renewable

energies, where Europe is far ahead of the US, and the market introduction of renewable

energies, where Europe is also leading.64


                                    b) The role of industry and basic research

The US programs FreedomCAR and FreedomFUEL are clearly geared towards

industrial, applied research, with the aim of introducing hydrogen cars as the “first car

driven by a child born today”, to use President Bush’s words. There is little to no money

for basic university research.65 The 6th European Framework Program for Research, on

the contrary, is providing money for both applied industrial projects and basic research.66

This difference suggests that the European approach is broader in scope and more holistic

than the industry-focused American approach.


                                    c) The role of clean coal and carbon sequestration

The recent US energy efforts are very much focused on the development of clean coal

technologies and carbon sequestration. In the EU, many voices are doubtful whether

clean coal is economically viable and whether carbon sequestration is environmentally

sound, i.e. whether it is possible to store carbon underground or to inject it into the sea

without creating new environmental problems and without leakages.67 This skepticism is,

of course, not shared by the coal industry itself, and also some politicians see a huge

potential in clean coal.68 However, it seems that the majority remains very skeptical.69


64
   Landler, p. 1.
65
   Brumfiel, p. 104.
66
   European Commission, Vision, p. 17.
67
   Wallstroem, p. 2.
68
   For the coal industry, see Winter, p. 478 ff.; Budge, slide 2 ff.; for the politicians, De Palacio, p. 4;
Adamowitsch, p. 4.
69
   Wallstroem, p. 2; Nitsch, p. 20ff.


                                                                                                               29
                                d) The potential role of nuclear power

In the proposed US energy bill, which is still awaiting approval of Congress, the second

technology that receives a lot of attention is nuclear power.70 Within Europe, the majority

of the Member States has abounded nuclear power for ecological reasons (mainly

because of the risk of a melt-down and because of the problem of nuclear waste).71

However, France, Spain and Finland are planning to build new nuclear power plants, and

within the European Commission, commissioner de Palacio is clearly pushing nuclear

power. On nuclear power, Europe is thus split within itself. The question is important,

because nuclear power is the other potentially inexhaustible source for hydrogen, together

with solar power.


                              2. Explanations for the potential conflicts

Possible explanations for these potential conflicts are different strategic interests

underlying the choice of hydrogen and a different attitude towards technological change.


            a) The strategic interests underlying the choice of hydrogen

As the program titles FreedomCAR and FreedomFUEL suggest, the main reason why the

Bush administration is pushing hydrogen technologies is the aim of becoming less

dependant on oil imports, while maintaining the role of the automobile within the society.

Environmental considerations only come second.72

      For the European Union, it is always crucial to stress the sustainability aspect of a

hydrogen economy.73 This reflects the strong European commitment to the Kyoto


70
   Landler, p. 1; Randerson, p. 12.
71
   Wallstroem, p. 3.
72
   Landler, p. 1.
73
   Compare the speeches of Prodi, de Palacio and Wallstroem at the Hydrogen Conference.


                                                                                              30
protocol and the commitment to reduce the impacts of car pollution on public health,

especially in the cities. Considerations of independence from oil are sometimes

mentioned as well, but less crucial.

     This difference is also reflected in the design of the hydrogen programs and the

road maps towards a hydrogen economy: where the US stresses the hydrogen car as the

first step, most Europeans put emphasis on the potential fuel cells have for combined heat

power generation. Recently, by amending the combined heat power directive which aims

at supporting this energy-efficient tool, the EU made an important step towards the

market introduction of combined heat-power generation. Combined heat-power

generation from fuel cells provides an immediate reduction of CO2 emissions, whereas

the first fuel-cell cars are unlikely to be more CO2 efficient than modern internal

combustion engines.

     A second strategic difference is linked to the role of coal. The US is pushing clean

coal and carbon sequestration for two reasons: first, because of its important domestic

coal reserves, second because of its vision for the development of China and India. This

development will, in the US perspective, be based on the use of their respective domestic

coal reserves. The US hopes then to export its clean coal technology.

     Most of the European coal reserves have been depleted in the last two centuries.

What is left is very expensive to exploit and thus not competitive on the world market.

The interest in clean coal technology is mainly pushed by the existing coal lobby. And

the prevailing European vision for the developing countries is based on the idea of “leap-

frogging”, i.e. the immediate introduction of renewable energies as the main energy

source.




                                                                                          31
           b) A different attitude towards technological change

A European skepticism vis-à-vis clean coal and carbon sequestration as a fix for climate

change may be explained by a different attitude towards technological change. It seems

that in many member states of the European Union, there is in general skepticism as far

as technological fixes are concerned. This is illustrated in many countries through the

hostility towards nuclear power, especially after the Chernobyl-meltdown. It also is one

of the reasons for the European reluctance to admit genetically modified food on the

European market.

     In the US, there is more openness for the idea of progress and fixes in nature

through human engineering. This seems to be also the case for the acceptance of clean

coal technologies and carbon sequestration.


Conclusion

The joint statement of President Bush, President Prodi and President of the Council

Simitis contains goals shared on both sides of the Atlantic, but also hides differences and

potential conflicts in the vision the current US administration and the European Union

have of the way towards a hydrogen economy. Both sides agree on the necessity of

pushing the development of the fuel cell. The potential conflicts concern mainly the

question of the source of the hydrogen.

Within the European Union, there are divergent attitudes. The smallest common

denominator seems to be the commitment to the Kyoto protocol and the need to reduce

greenhouse gas emissions. This goal is the main driver behind the European efforts to




                                                                                          32
organize the transition towards a hydrogen economy. On the US side, the main reason

seems to be the goal of energy security and independence from oil imports.




                                                                                      33
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