As our colleagues in the US recently recently marked October 8 the US  National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day, the EHA is kicking of  a new season of promoting the use of hydrogen in Europe by inviting our newest member, the Ukrainian Association for Hydrogen Energy to write the newsletter’s editorial. Drs.Viacheslav Zgonnik president of the association sends us his contribution for this month. Next month we invite Werner Diwald, president of the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association to give his perspective.

Past month was marked by several events,that put the actual cost of the use of fossil fuels, the so-called negative externality again in the spotlights; vehicle emission test procedures/results, the pope’s most watched UN speech on sustainable development, Greenpeace interest in Vattenfall’s coal plants… At the same time we observe the growing number of hydrogen refueling stations powered entirely by clean and renewable sources. This newsletter includes references to various examples of new stations and  and projects that feature hydrogen produced by renewable energy providing an ultra low pathway from source to application. Like the wind-powered hydrogen station that was launched in the United Kingdom, completing the list of 100% green  European hydrogen stations already in operations in Denmark, Italy, Norway and Germany with new stations opening in the UK, Sweden and Finland. I am currently assisting the EHA in completing an update on the progress of installing such types of stations in the EU.

Another recent event makes us think that hydrogen era will come faster than we expected. Last week Paris hosted the conference dedicated to natural hydrogen, which was organized by the French Geological Society (SGF). During this meeting geologists from many research institutions presented the progress in the field of natural hydrogen. The conference coincided with publication of an article about natural hydrogen (in French) in the journal Pour la science, a French edition of Scientific American.

Naturally occurring seeps of this gas were known since many years, but so far they were mainly known in mid-oceanic ridges. However, recent discoveries revealed seepages of natural molecular hydrogen on continents (where nobody expected them). Hydrogen appears in the Earth’s crust naturally, it is non-fossil and carbon-free. Estimates show that H2 quantities are quite significant and feasible commercial extraction could be possible. Moreover, studies show that the flow of this clean gas is sustainable and may last for hundreds and even thousands of years. The image on the right shows relief of Carolina bays, elliptical shallow depressions on the surface of the Atlantic Coast of the USA. They were shown to emit notable quantities of natural molecular hydrogen.

In many parts of Europe the first activities in linking clean hydrogen with energy and transport applications are still in the heads of young scientists and entrepreneurs or remain on the shelves of research institutes. Unlocking this potential and interesting policy makers by associations like ours will need a constant flow of launches and developments that point to the link of hydrogen with low carbon and “independent” energy sources. This is especially important for countries like Ukraine, which may use hydrogen’s potential to achieve its energy independence.

Viacheslav Zgonnik, UAHE (Ukrainian Association for Hydrogen Energy)

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