Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking gets autonomy and becomes a real public-private partnership
By granting on 15 November autonomy to the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, the European Commission acknowledges that the Joint Undertaking is now ready to stand on its own two feet.
The European Commission has finalised after a long and rigorous process, the necessary checks to ensure the Joint Undertaking is fully capable of managing autonomously its programme and properly using public funds.
The Fuel cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking becomes, from that date onwards, what it intended to be when created, that is to say a real Public-Private Partnership build up.
Concretely, the scheme whose objective is to accelerate market entry of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies by 2020 will benefit from streamlined administrative procedures which in turn will allow the Joint Undertaking to react faster and with more flexibility to the constraints of beneficiaries of the programme.
With an Executive Director coming from industry as its head and operational staff, the Joint Undertaking is now fully ready to face the many challenges ahead.
The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, established in 2008, is the first illustrative example of a public-private partnership instrument under the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan mostly known under the name SET-Plan agenda.
The SET-Plan is an original way of working with Members States, industry, the research community and financial actors, for bringing new energy technologies to the market (2020 horizon), whilst at the same time investing in R&D for the longer-term (2050 horizon). It is now recognised as the technology pillar of the EU's energy and climate policy.
The granting of autonomy comes at a right moment, when the Strategic Energy Technology plan holds its fourth review (15-16 November 2010) to account for the progress in the implementation and set up of the European Industrial initiatives, Fuel cells and Hydrogen being already the first concrete example of such industrial initiatives.
Progress is clearly to be acknowledged, as highlighted during the third Stakeholders' General Assembly of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, which brought together in Brussels on 9 and 10 November 2010 some 360 stakeholders from the sector.
Three calls for proposals have already been launched and in 2011 the public private partnership intends to launch its biggest call with a budget worth nearly € 220 million to be invested into research projects to be selected in 4 application areas, namely transportation and refuelling infrastructure; hydrogen production and distribution; stationary power generation; and early markets (such as portable and micro fuel cell applications, material handling vehicles and back-up power solutions). A fifth application area focuses on cross-cutting issues useful for several types of applications, notably to ensure that non-technical barriers are addressed, such as developing a framework for technology monitoring and assessment as well as financial modelling.
Welcoming the autonomy, Bert De Colvenaer, Executive Director of the Joint Undertaking, underlined:
"this is an excellent signal to illustrate that we are more than ever ready to support the sector of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies to deliver on the promises to offer efficient, reliable and sustainable-friendly energy technologies.
This is also very timely with major developments of the sector at European and international level.
The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint technology Initiative was launched on 14th October 2008. Its main goal is to speed up the development of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies in Europe to enable their commercialisation between 2010 and 2020. Current membership includes the European Commission and 64 companies, from multinationals to small and medium-sized enterprises, represented by the European Industry Grouping for the FCH JTI (NEW IG), as well as 54 universities and research institutes, represented by the Research Grouping N.ERGHY, employing more than 2000 researchers in the field of fuel cells and hydrogen.
For more information on the Fuel cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, please visit:
Claire Castel, communication officer
Fuel cells and hydrogen Joint Undertaking