Building the Hydrogen Economy

At the very top of the list of environmental priorities for the EU is the plan to become a fully integrated renewable-based hydrogen economy by mid-century. The EU has led the world in championing the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, and to ensure compliance it has made a commitment to produce 22 percent of its electricity and 12 percent of all of its energy using renewable sources by 2010. Although a number of member states are lagging behind on meeting their renewable energy targets, the very fact that the EU has set benchmarks puts it far ahead of the U.S. in making the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The Bush administration has consistently fought Congressional attempts to establish similar benchmarks for ushering in a U.S.-based renewable energy regime.

© Jem Sullivan

In June of 2003, EU President Romano Prodi said, "It is our declared goal of achieving a step-by-step shift toward a fully integrated hydrogen economy, based on renewable energy sources, by the middle of the century." He added that creating this economy would be the next critical step in integrating Europe after the introduction of the Euro.

The European hydrogen game plan is being implemented with a sense of history in mind. Great Britain became the world’s leading power in the 19th century because it was the first country to harness its vast coal reserves with steam power. The U.S., in turn, became the world’s preeminent power in the 20th century because it was the first country to harness its vast oil reserves with the internal-combustion engine. The multiplier effects of both energy revolutions were extraordinary. The EU is determined to lead the world into the third great energy revolution of the modern era.