The EC has taken an important step towards the realisation of a hydrogen based economy with the setting up of a new High Level Group to assess the prospects for using hydrogen and fuel cells as a key element of future energy and transport policies.

Energy and transport commissioner Loyola de Palacio, addressing the group’s inaugural meeting, pointed out the main obstacle to the production and distribution of hydrogen on a large scale – the necessary production of huge amounts of power from ‘sustainable energy sources, from nuclear power, fossil fuels with CO2 capture and sequestration, or renewable sources. All these … are equivalent from the sustainables point of view.’

The High Level Group is to major EU companies, public utilities, research institutes and policy-makers, and includes some luminous names, chiefly Carlo Rubbia, the Nobel laureate physicist, and Pascal Colombani, ceo of the French Atomic Energy Commission, and is to publish its initial results by mid-2003.