Bridge to a sustainable future

Bridge to a sustainable future

Elisa Maria Giannetto
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Hydrogen has emerged as a crucial factor in building a low-emissions world. The formation of the Hydrogen Council is announced at Davos, while Obama is allocating 500 million dollars to the Green Climate Fund.

At Davos, the idea has been born (or rather reborn) of using hydrogen to accelerate the world economy’s energy transition and help meet climate targets. At the event in the Swiss Alpine town, 13 transport and energy companies announced the birth of the Hydrogen Council, a global initiative to promote the use of hydrogen as a storage solution for the energy of the future. And so the universe’s lightest element has become the solid foundation for scaling back fossil fuel consumption, creating new possibilities in mobility and energy for 21st century. The plan is part of a larger global effort to keep global warming below 2°C, a threshold agreed on in Paris in 2015 by 195 countries. ''In this context, we are convinced that the unique contribution that hydrogen solutions offer needs to be strongly reaffirmed now'', explain the new organization’s members. The hydrogen race already began some years ago, but today this fuel type is more reliant thanks to advances in technology. The Hydrogen Council’s stated objective is to ''explore the use of hydrogen to create an environmentally sustainable, low-carbon society''. Multinational companies currently involved include Air Liquide, Alstom, Anglo American, BMW Group, Daimler, ENGIE, Honda, Hyundai, Kawasaki, Royal Dutch Shell, the Linde Group, Total and Toyota. The commitment is there, but the backers ''need governments to back hydrogen with actions of their own – for example through large-scale infrastructure investment schemes'', as Air Liquide CEO Benoit Potier commented. Someone else is investing in green initiatives for the sake of his own legacy. Just days before the end of his mandate, outgoing US president Barack Obama transferred a sum of 500 million dollars to the Green Climate Fund, the UN’s international fund to support emerging countries in their energy transition. In the world of innovation in energy conservation, Europe has some news of its own: the continent’s first positive energy building. The project will be executed in the town of Porsgrunn, in the county of Telemark, in Norway. Built primarily out of wood and featuring solar panels, heat pumps and a special design that maximizes its exposure to solar radiation, the structure will generate more energy than it consumes. This shining example of bioarchitecture will be unveiled by 2019.