Presidential Esteem for the Role of Hydrogen

Posted on August 28, 2015

Tagged with COP21, President Hollande, Air Liquide, Intelligent Energy

There are now fewer than 100 days to go until the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. COP21, as it is known, will aim to achieve a legally binding and universal climate agreement, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. It is a historic moment for the world. In the coming weeks, more and more governments will be submitting their climate change pledges and passing legislation leading into the summit.


With the world’s eyes fixed on Paris, France has adopted a leading position. Recently, I had the privilege of meeting with President Hollande during a presidential tour of the new energy facilities which populate the Rhône-Alpes region. President Hollande was there to discuss the country’s transition to a low carbon economy. It is an issue close to his heart. He has consistently signaled his support for renewable energy in the past and acknowledges that innovation is a vital area for delivering the transition to a low carbon economy we so desperately need.


During President Hollande’s tour, he visited the Air Liquide Group's Advanced Technologies Sassenage site. Accompanied by Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, the President was shown how hydrogen is already being used as a fuel in society. As part of his tour, Intelligent Energy showcased the applications of its hydrogen fuel cell technology to automotive, distributed power and consumer electronics.  At the end of his tour the President also used a liquid hydrogen pump to fill a fuel cell vehicle. Seeing the President engage with the technology was quite an uplifting moment for all those present.

After a fast ride as part of the Presidential motorcade I took part in a roundtable discussion. I spoke about the transition to a new energy landscape. I expressed to the President that we already have many of the tools that we need to make the low carbon economy real. At Intelligent Energy, we have developed hydrogen fuel cell technology, working with four major vehicle manufacturers who represent a huge swathe of the automobile market. We have technologies to rival diesel generators, as per our rapidly growing activities in India, and batteries for consumer electronics – all producing zero emissions when they generate electricity. As a company, Intelligent Energy has a proven track record of partnering with large, global businesses to transform new energy landscapes: we have already done this with global companies in North America, Japan, India and now are pleased to do so in France.


The good news is that change is coming. Last month, the French National Assembly gave final approval of the country's energy transition bill. The bill contains a number of objectives. These include: a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and a 75% reduction by 2050, compared with 1990 levels. Under the legislation, France's reliance on nuclear energy will be reduced to 50% of power generation by 2025. This is a significant reduction for a country where nuclear energy currently accounts for almost 75% of electricity production. New greener sources of energy will have to be found to cover the deficit. This is where hydrogen can play a significant role.


As we move towards COP21 in Paris later this year, it is encouraging to see governments leaning in to promote hydrogen as a fuel and fuel cells in this new energy landscape we are all moving towards. We welcome President Hollande’s enthusiasm and encourage global leaders to follow in his footsteps. 

By Henri Winand, CEO


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