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Sustainable Energy Systems Events

Conference on "The hydrogen economy - a bridge to sustainable energy"

Date: 16-17 June 2003
Place: Brussels, Belgium

Background to the conference

Hydrogen has attracted the attention of policy makers and industrialists as a possible future energy vector, able to address at the same time environmental concerns and dependence on foreign energy sources.

The High Level Group (HLG) on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells was formally launched in Brussels on 10th October 2002 by the Vice President of the European Commission Loyola de Palacio, responsible for Energy and Transport, and Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, with the support of President Romano Prodi. It brings together top-level stakeholders from across Europe, with the aim of formulating an integrated EU vision on the possible role that hydrogen and fuel cells could play in achieving sustainable energy. It has provided recommendations to policy makers addressing what would be required to achieve global leadership in this field in the next 20 to 30 years.

Objectives of the conference

The conference presented the High Level Group's vision report, for discussion before a wide audience, and sought to validate its recommendations and proposed follow-up actions (e.g. on a Strategic Research Agenda and a Deployment Strategy). The creation of an EU Platform on Hydrogen Technology to optimise European efforts towards the realisation of the potential of hydrogen was discussed.

The conference also provided a forum for the discussion of possible initiatives on transport, energy, environment and enterprise policies to foster a hydrogen economy, to stimulate investment in knowledge and innovation in this area, and identify priority actions and initiatives for research programmes.

Conference Programme

The conference was opened by EC President, Mr. Romano Prodi. Speakers and panellists at this high level conference comprised several EU Commissioners, Member States' Ministers, the US Secretary of Energy, Members of the European Parliament, Members of the High Level Group and eminent scientists and policy makers and shapers from the research community, industry and public administrations.

On the first day, plenary sessions were held to deliver political support, examine possible policy pathways towards a hydrogen economy and present the vision paper by the HLG. National policy initiatives were also addressed in a European perspective.

On the second day, two parallel sessions, one on a RTD agenda and the other on deployment strategy, were held in the morning, followed by two plenary sessions to obtain the view of the motor industry and address environmental issues. Final conclusions were then be drawn.

A poster session allowed the promotion of important on-going national, EU and international initiatives and projects.

Conference proceedings

Bringing together around 450 participants representing high-level policy and decision makers from public administrations and from the industrial, financial, scientific and research communities and recognised representatives of civil society, the conference not only underlined the strategic importance of hydrogen and fuel cells to Europe's future energy supply, but also strongly endorsed the recommendations of the High Level Group as to the way forward.

The conference presentations and discussions pointed the way to the further development of the European and global dimension of RTD and deployment activities in this field, within the concept of a European Technology Platform.

For more information about the High Level Group on hydrogen and fuel cells, including the summary vision report presented at this conference, please visit the European Commission's Energy Research website .

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