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EU Nations to Use More Hydrogen        09/21 06:47

   BERLIN (AP) -- Dozens of European countries are backing a plan to increase 
the use of hydrogen as an alternative to fossil fuels to cut the continent's 
carbon emissions.

   Energy officials from 25 countries pledged Tuesday to increase research into 
hydrogen technology and accelerate its everyday use to power factories, drive 
cars and heat homes.

   The proposal, which was included in a non-binding agreement signed in Linz, 
Austria, includes the idea of using existing gas grids to distribute hydrogen 
produced with renewable energy.

   The idea of a "hydrogen economy," where fuels that release greenhouse gases 
are replaced with hydrogen, has been around for decades. Yet uptake on the 
concept has been slow so far, compared with some other technologies.

   Advocates of hydrogen say it can solve the problem caused by fluctuating 
supplies of wind, solar, hydro and other renewable energies. By converting 
electricity generated from those sources into hydrogen, the energy can be 
stored in large tanks and released again when needed.

   Electric vehicles can also use hydrogen to generate power on board, allowing 
manufacturers to overcome the range restrictions of existing batteries. 
Hydrogen vehicles can be refueled in a fraction of the time it takes to 
recharge a battery-powered vehicle.

   On Monday the world's first commuter train service using a prototype 
hydrogen-powered train began in northern Germany.

   The European Union's top climate and energy official said hydrogen could 
help the bloc meet its obligations to cut carbon emissions under the 2015 Paris 
accord. Miguel Arias Canete told reporters it could also contribute to the 
continent's energy security by reducing imports of natural gas, much of which 
currently comes from Russia and countries outside of Europe.

   Kirsten Westphal, an energy expert at the German Institute for International 
and Security Affairs, said encouraging the use of hydrogen as a means of 
storing and transporting energy makes sense, but added the overall goal for 
should be reducing fossil fuels rather than pushing a particular energy 
alternative. 


(KA)

 
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