The Challenge of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
Edited by Stefano Pogutz, Angeloantonio Russo and Paolo Migliavacca
In a time of environmental crisis, with the future of our energy sources still questionable, the awareness and concern of global society is increasing. There is a search for new technological solutions to reduce our ecological footprint and decrease our dependence on hydrocarbons. Over the last decade, hydrogen and fuel cell technologies have emerged as a potential solution, a means of transition to a more sustainable economy that has stimulated expectations as well as debate in the scientific and political community. On the one hand, a possible transition to a ‘hydrogen economy’ appeals to the public, who are optimistic about the ‘healing’ properties of these technologies. On the other hand, a sceptical opinion on hydrogen and fuel cell technology has been shared by several decisionmakers, economists and scientists who consider the ‘hydrogen economy’ as a sea change in our energy infrastructure, with unclear and uncertain societal and environmental results. Despite such divergent reactions, the last fifteen years can be considered as a watershed period for the hydrogen and fuel cell industry. Several countries have begun to develop public policies, legislation and R&D plans to sustain and promote the diffusion of these technologies in both transportation and stationary contexts (McDowall and Eames, 2006; Solomon and Banerjee, 2006). Many energy companies, in collaboration with local officials, have been actively building hydrogen infrastructure. For example, according to Fuel Cell Today (Huleatt-James, 2008), around 200 hydrogen refuelling stations are expected by the end of 2008, compared with close to 50 in 2003. Many...