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Fuel cells are expected to play a major role in future energy supply. In the long term they may replace a large part of the current combustion systems in all energy end use sectors. They can, in the medium and long term, make a major contribution to achieving European Union economic, social and environmental objectives. These include sustainable development, energy savings, reducing the emissions of CO2 and other harmful pollutants. Fuel cells also enable diversification of energy supply as they are fuelled by hydrogen and not oil. Hydrogen may be produced from various sources, including renewable energy sources, or reformed from natural gas itself, or from liquid fuels derived from natural gas, such as methanol.

The concept of sustainability is central to the future development and long term prosperity of the European Union, and indeed to that of the rest of the world. The projections of the European Union POLES' model for world energy demand under a "business as usual" scenario, assume a world economic growth of 3.3%, leading to a doubling of world energy demand between 2000 and 2030 and a doubling of energy related CO2 emissions from 6.3 to 13 Billion tons of Carbon. Two-thirds of this increase are attributed to developing industrial countries. Although there are many possible combinations of fuel substitutions and energy savings that would meet the Kyoto target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the International Energy Agency (IEA) notes that all would involve large deviations from present trends and would require major new policy initiatives.

Additional information

Authors: No Author(s) provided, DG-Research, Programme: Energy, Environment and Sustainable development
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 19367 EN (2000) 24pp, EURO: FREE of charge
Availability: Available from DG-Research, Communication Unit, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 200, B-1049 Brussels (BE) Fax: +32-2-2958220 E-mail:
ISBN: ISBN 92-828-9422-3
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