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Ulster Expert Calls for All-Ireland Hydrogen Highway

3 March 2010

An all-Ireland  ‘Hydrogen Highway’ could help solve our future fuel shortage problems – according to a University of Ulster researcher.

Professor Vladimir Molkov, Director of  Ulster’s Hydrogen Safety Engineering and Research (HySAFER) Centre, says that Ireland is lagging behind its European neighbours when it comes to investing in alternative fuel sources.

He warns that now is the time to act before fossil fuel reserves become depleted and proposes that a network of hydrogen refuelling stations between several major cities be created which would allow a hydrogen-fuelled bus link to service this route.

"Research indicates that fossil fuel reserves will run out in the very near future. Based on current production levels these estimates amount to approximately 40 years for oil, 70 for gas and 200 for coal so it is imperative that we develop an independent energy supply,” said Professor Molkov.

“Other European countries are already investing heavily in this type of technology as it is a sustainable and environmentally-friendly long-term replacement for fossil fuels but Ireland is lagging far behind in efforts to implement innovative hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Hydrogen vehicles are one of only a few viable alternatives when we run out of oil and gas. They are already used successfully in England, Scotland and Wales as well as in other countries worldwide and produce zero emissions.”

Professor Molkov is urging government on both sides of the border to work together and act now to avoid being left behind. He says both governments must be prepared for the commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies planned in developed countries by 2015.

He said: “The HySAFER Centre, which is based at Ulster’s Jordanstown campus, is proposing a pilot project which would involve the creation of a network of hydrogen refuelling stations between Derry, Belfast and Dublin which would allow a hydrogen-fuelled public transport fleet to service this route and which could subsequently be extended to other vehicles.“

Transport constitutes approximately 35% of the UK’s energy demand. How will future generations drive if there are no fossil fuels left? Green hydrogen – hydrogen produced using renewable sources – is an energy carrier of the future which directly addresses the commitment of the Northern Ireland Assembly to reducing greenhouses gas emissions by 25% over the next fifteen years.

“With joint support and cross border cooperation on this important issue we can lend impetus to the development of the renewable energy sector and create a new hydrogen-powered transport and infrastructure for the island of Ireland.”

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