ECN publication
R&D expenditure for H2 and FC as indicator for political will
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 18-12-2006
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-E--06-046 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
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This study aims to provide insight into the political will to switch to sustainable energy and especially hydrogen and fuel cells, by reviewing public RD&D support from 1993 until 2004. Another aim is to compare public R&D expenditures for hydrogen and fuel cells on the one hand to those for biomass, photovoltaics (PV), wind energy, and nuclear energy on the other hand. This pertains to countries of interest, viz. the EU and the European Commission, and other IEA countries. It is assumed that RD&D expenditures on a specific subject are an expression of the political will to enhance the role of a particular energy source or to change the energy structure in a specific direction. It is concluded that public RD&D programmes for hydrogen and fuel cells tend to be linked to the envisioned position of fuel cells in transportation and -to a lesser extent- in stationary power generation. Several countries adopt roadmaps for hydrogen and fuel cells. With respect to RD&D on biomass, the budget is fairly constant over the years. However a shift towards the use of biofuels in the transport sector, due to a EU directive, may cause the budget to be used for deployment of biofuel in stead of R&D. R&D policies for PV are already coupled to market stimulation policies, e.g., in Germany and Japan. This means most countries that perform high with regard to R&D spending also host manufacturers of PV cells or panels and enable market growth for PV. Germany and Japan are also vigorously developing a domestic and an export market for PV. IEA countries that perform high in the top of R&D spending on wind energy -the USA, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, but also the UK and Spain- are well known from their progressive policies to increase the share of wind energy. Countries with the largest domestic wind capacities -Germany, Spain, the USA, India, and Denmark- also host the largest manufacturers of wind turbines, which evidences the close relationship between R&D budgets on the one hand and market stimulation policies on the other hand stimulating the industry to start deploying the technology. Compared to renewable options like PV, wind energy, and biomass, nuclear power is an established power generation option. The amount of public R&D for ‘conventional’ nuclear energy has been declining for more than a decade, but RD&D of fusion power show a constant budget the past decades. The extent of nuclear R&D commitment depends inter alia on the (envisaged) position of nuclear power in the generation mix of a specific country. Concluding, the magnitude of RD&D support for hydrogen and fuel cells in, e.g., Japan may be an expression of its determination to force a specific market penetration for fuel cell vehicles. Although notably nuclear R&D budgets are still much higher than for hydrogen and fuel cells, the former are declining while the latter are increasing.

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