In the first decades of the XXI century, the energetic technology encourages basic researchers to make a joint effort to find the future solutions ensuring the society a change in the energy model.
The twentieth century, extraordinary in technological development, lead to a high consumption of fossil resources and therefore a world reserves depletion, despite the great effort made on the research of new oil fields.
Limitations in existing oil and natural gas reserves, together with the continued population growth, makes suitable the use of alternative energy sources ensuring the security of supply, where Renewable Energy Sources must play a great role as long as nuclear energy safety and fuel availability is not guaranteed.
As renewable energies work in alternating production regime and nuclear energy works in a regularly regime, it is necessary to carry out a scientific and technological effort oriented to optimize the energy system by including storage devices helping to adapt energy production to energy demand. Hydrogen presents a high potential for electrical energy storage and, together with fuel cells to convert stored energy into electricity, it will open the door to the well-known hydrogen economy.
Despite three decades of talking about hydrogen and fuel cells, about prototypes of electric cars powered by fuel cells and using hydrogen as an energy carrier and about the use fuel cells in multiple stationary applications, this technology still needs strong technological developments and scientific breakthroughs, while it requires an energetic culture change for the next decades.
Scientific breakthroughs reached up till now require integration with these complex technologies. This is the reason why they needs special testing facilities affording capacity for technology scaling, development and demonstration in real systems, in order to verify, validate and certify the progress made before transferring these technologies to the productive phase. However, the projected scope of influence is so large that makes necessary the creation of an industrial and technological network stimulating new financial resources close to the power and transport sector.
Manuel Montes Ponce de León
National Hydrogen Centre Director