The Challenge of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
Edited by Stefano Pogutz, Angeloantonio Russo and Paolo Migliavacca
Chapter 2: Transition Towards Sustainable Energy Systems: The Case of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
Marcello Contestabile BACKGROUND AND INTRODUCTION The availability of adequate, affordable and reliable energy and transport services is central to the functioning of developed and emerging economies alike. Energy demand worldwide is growing at a sustained pace, particularly as a result of the fast economic growth of countries such as China and India. At the same time, many countries largely rely on the use of finite and often imported fossil primary energy sources, the limited availability and volatile prices of which are causing increasing concern. Moreover, energy and transport systems today are not environmentally sustainable, generating emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), which are responsible for global climate change and other air pollutants which have negative impacts on human health. As a result, addressing environmental and energy security issues has become a crucial goal of energy and transport policies in both developed and developing countries. However, a transition towards economically and environmentally sustainable energy and transport systems is a complex process burdened by inertia to change, path dependency and long lead times; therefore, clear strategies and strong actions are needed today for short-term as well as long-term sustainability objectives. In the short to medium term, significant improvements are possible if technologies that are either available or in the final phases of development are brought to market. Meeting long-term sustainability objectives, however, will require, inter alia, significant technological breakthroughs. The European Technology Strategy (CEC, 2007a) points at key energy and transport technologies that need to be developed and brought to market by 2020...
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