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The evolution of hydrogen research: Is Germany heading for an early lock-in?

: Hekkert, M.P.; Giessel, J.-F. van; Ros, M.; Wietschel, M.; Meeus, M.T.


International journal of hydrogen energy 30 (2005), Nr.10, S.1045-1052
ISSN: 0360-3199
Fraunhofer ISI ()

In this article we analyse and evaluate the German Research and Development (R&D) system related to the development of hydrogen technology for mobile applications. We analysed both research projects and patents in the period 1974-2002. The paper focuses on an analysis of the main technological trends, the role of governments in steering the transition and an evaluation of the speed and direction of the transition to hydrogen. Our findings show that the attention for hydrogen is strongly increasing and that overall the variety in research projects is increasing. This is positive. However, some technologies receive more attention than others. The number of projects and patents related to infrastructure and refuelling is very low while on board production of hydrogen is a clear winner. In terms of storage, liquid hydrogen receives most attention. We are concerned about these directions in R&D strategy since different well to wheel studies have shown the drawbacks of these options in terms of energy efficiency. Different governments play an active role in stimulating research and development, which broadens the variety of research topics, which is positive. However, the distance between government and industrial interests may be too large to lead to a significant influence of policy efforts. We therefore recommend stronger policy coordination to counteract the risks of premature lock-in in suboptimal hydrogen technologies.