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Energy Advances Need Joint Efforts

"China welcomes any type of cooperation in the fields of standards and codes, fundamental research--direct coal-to-hydrogen process in particular--and commercialization," said Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) Secretary General Shi Dinghuan.

Shi was speaking at the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE) Steering Committee meeting in Beijing Thursday.

"Only through close cooperation in the sector can we reduce the cost of developing the new clean energy and avoid duplicating research and development risks," he added.

IPHE was formed last November to organize and implement efforts to develop safe and commercially competitive production, storage, transport and use of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The aim is to develop a hydrogen economy and a sustainable energy supply.

The group will give priority to hydrogen production and storage, fuel cells, safety codes and standards, socio-economic research, infrastructure research, technology demonstration and evaluation and definition of international lighthouse projects.

Experts say that China's energy development will meet five major challenges in the coming decades: High dependency on oil imports threatens the nation's energy security; use of coal, currently the nation's main source of energy, leads to severe pollution; strong economic growth results in high energy demand; greenhouse gas emissions result in global climate change; rural areas suffer from energy supply and consumption problems.

Developing a new type of energy will require the concerted efforts of the international community, since no individual country can afford to complete the entire task, said Dr. Xiao Yunhan of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Engineering Thermophysics.

He said statistics indicate that by 2030, the world will face exhaustion of oil resources and the impact of energy shortages on human development will far outstrip that of the SARS epidemic.

"We must take precautions against the challenge of energy exhaustion. Developing hydrogen-based energy is a good option," said Xiao, who is also secretary of the National Clean Energy Action Project.

On Wednesday, the Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation under the National Research Council of Canada signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Tsinghua University to jointly develop codes and standards on safety, infrastructure and testing of fuel cells.

Another MOU was also inked on the same day between Canada's Westport Innovation and Tsinghua on collaborating in the development and implementation of hydrogen-powered buses.

A total of 14 hydrogen fuel cell companies from Canada attended the 2004 Hyforum --which closes today -- to discuss with Chinese officials how to work together in the business and research fields in the coming years.

The United States, Germany and some other European countries are also working with China in the development of hydrogen energy.

The members of the IPHE are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Norway, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Commission.

(China Daily May 28, 2004)

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