Brussels, Belgium – The European Parliament has adopted a legislative report on hydrogen-powered vehicles, with the European Commission (EC) advising that the House should look into measures to support the establishment of a Europe-wide filling station network for hydrogen vehicles.

The purpose of the proposal is to lay down harmonized technical provisions for the approval of hydrogen-powered vehicles for the first time. Parliament said there is a need to introduce EU-wide approval criteria for such vehicles, in order to safeguard the operation of the single market, as well as ensure a high level of safety and environmental protection. Since hydrogen-powered vehicles are not presently included in the EC type-approval system, member states may grant approvals for such vehicles on a one-off basis, without applying new laws; in practice, there is a risk that every member state will draw up its own approval conditions, resulting in high costs for manufacturers, creating safety risks and impeding the spread of hydrogen technology in the EU. For these reasons, the proposal is considered an important step towards obtaining alternative fuels for the transport sector.

“At a time when petrol prices in Europe have doubled, and with ever growing concern about the effects of climate change, it is clear we need new hopes for future fuels,” said Arlene McCarthy, MEP for U.K. “Sales of electric cars and other alternatives have soared, but hydrogen cars are only on the cusp of large-scale production. This new law will boost the development of these vehicles while ensuring they are reliable and safe.”

Proposals include vehicles propelled by pure hydrogen, produced as far as possible from renewable energies, with mixtures of hydrogen and natural gas or biomethane no more than a transitional technology; expanding the regulation’s scope to motorcycles; and ensuring that rescue services are able to identify the vehicle’s hydrogen power source, initially with label schemes and then with longer-term options such as eCall, which automatically sends a signal to rescue services from the vehicle in the event of a crash, or a central database in which the vehicle’s technical data are available to rescue services.

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