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E-M:/ Leverage Europe's ecological experience?

Enviro-Mich message from Lowell Prag <lprag@mail.msen.com>

Was: RE: / $2 billion for fuel cells, other renewables

On Fri, 18 Oct 2002, Donna K. Mallonee wrote:

> Thanks for this. I believe Europe is ahead of us on issues such as land-use
> and natural resource consumption.  We should leverage their experience.

Hello Donna,

I believe the reason we don't leverage their experience is related to the
fact that their countries are very small compared to the USA, and they do
a much better job with overall foresight leading to political consensus.

Translated to the needs of the USA, this means the states themselves must
take the lead and demonstrate solutions which can then hopefully, be
translated into federal legislation, etc.

In essence, most everything stems from grass roots in the USA and the
initial burden is on local groups to take action and build from there.

The main exception is problems which directly affect corporate
interests and they have access to fast track solutions.


fuel cells for converting hydrogen to electricity, have been around for
over a hundred years and we could have weaned our selves from fossil fuels
long ago but instead, we have chosen to maintain a military mainly to
protect our oil interests, rather than explore other fuel options via
hydrogen, solar, wind, etc.

Given the expense of that military approach to protect our oil interests
and the slow realization that global warming is a fact, the oil industry
is quietly buying into alternative energies that they previously opposed,
now that they realize their demise is otherwise eventually eminent.

In short, having our government presently controlled in the main, by the
oil industry, is not the most expeditious way to establish sane, national
environmental policy.

I would further argue that 9/11 and the ongoing resentment of the Muslim
world created by our intrusions into their countries to protect our oil
interests, could have been avoided by something as simple as fuel cells
and the foresight to implement a hydrogen infrastructure to power them.

Scientists have been arguing that for many, many years but it has taken a
series of wars and other catastrophes to finally make that realization and
it is now driving the fast track for fuel cell implementation.

Lowell Prag

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
> [mailto:owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net]On Behalf Of Lowell Prag
> Sent: Thursday, October 17, 2002 10:43 AM
> To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
> Subject: E-M:/ $2 billion for fuel cells, other renewables
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Enviro-Mich message from Lowell Prag <lprag@mail.msen.com>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Hello all,
> Below is a reprint of the European Union's $2 billion plan to move
> towards replacing fossil fuels with hydrogen and other renewables.
> If Michigan can put a $1 billion clean water bond issue on the ballot,
> why not also something similar for hydrogen production and the use of
> other renewables?
> Given the new fuel cell development centers we already have in progress
> within Michigan which will be the best in the nation, a bond issue to
> make application of the technology a reality, seems logical.
> Lowell Prag
>   New York Times, Paul Meller, 16 Oct 2002
> RUSSELS, Oct. 15 — Romano Prodi has seen the hydrogen-powered light. In
> an interview today, Mr. Prodi, the president of the European Commission,
> described his view of Europe in a post-fossil-fuel era, when homes would
> generate the power they need from renewable sources like the wind and
> the sun, store it in hydrogen fuel cells and harness it as needed,
> replacing all the polluting energy sources in use today.
> He is not just musing. Speaking for the 15-nation European Union at a
> conference in Johannesburg over the summer, he said the union had set a
> goal of obtaining 22 percent of its electricity and 12 percent of all
> energy from renewable sources by 2010.
> Economics and geopolitics are behind the move as much as environmental
> concerns. Europe depends much more heavily on imported energy than the
> United States does: around 70 percent of its oil and gas comes from
> abroad, mainly the Middle East and Russia. "For us, reducing fossil fuel
> dependency is a priority," Mr. Prodi said. The great impediment to wider
> use of renewable energy has been the difficulty of storing and
> transporting it for later use, a practical necessity that fossil fuels
> make relatively simple. Hydrogen may, too, which is why Mr. Prodi takes
> it so seriously.
> Last week, the commission convened the first meeting of a panel of
> senior executives from European companies with stakes in the matter,
> like Royal Dutch/Shell DaimlerChrysler  and  Rolls-Royce, the aircraft
> engine maker. The panel will advise the union on the development of
> hydrogen fuel cells, which promise to be a practical power source for
> vehicles and fixed use.
> The commission, the executive body of the union, has already earmarked
> more than 2.1 billion euros ($2 billion) for research over the next five
> years into sustainable energy projects, a 20-fold increase in the last
> five years (1997-2001). A central focus will be hydrogen fuel cells, a
> field where the union has lagged the United States and Japan in publicly
> financed research. Mr. Prodi said that Europe was poised to leap ahead
> of its rivals in its overall energy strategy. "Neither the United States
> nor Japan is clear on its goals," he said, and without clear goals,
> there is little progress. Industry agrees. "The European commission is
> playing a very significant role now in developing hydrogen fuel cells,"
> said Don Huberts, chief executive of Shell Hydrogen, after the advisory
> panel met last week. "It is providing a framework for the introduction
> of the new technologies in the E.U. It would be very hard to convert the
> environmental benefits into consumer benefits without this political
> leadership." Herbert Kohler, director of environmental affairs at
> DaimlerChrysler, said political support was vital. "For the car
> industry, we can do a lot ourselves, but at a certain point we need fuel
> — and that means involving others,"
> Mr. Kohler said after the meeting. "We need legislative and financial
> support to stimulate this sector, and for that we need government
> involvement." Researchers have been trying for decades to harness
> hydrogen as a cheap fuel. Mr. Prodi said that now, for the first time,
> technological advances "give us the message that we are on the eve of
> being able to do this cost effectively." "We are not working on a
> scientific experiment," he continued. "Science is already on board. We
> are working for change in the most important pattern of consumption of a
> contemporary society."
> Before assuming the presidency of the European Commission, Mr. Prodi was
> prime minister of Italy, where he was credited with preparing the
> country to adopt the euro. In Brussels, he has overseen preparations for
> the European Union to take in 10 new members in 2004. The energy project
> is in the same league as these other big ideas, Mr. Prodi said. "The
> difference is that with enlargement and with the euro, there is a big
> bang. Not here. My role here is to kick this process off; others will
> work on its implementation." But before Mr. Prodi can fulfill his wider
> energy ambitions, there are still the union's existing energy goals to
> achieve, notably the creation of a liberalized market in energy within
> the union. Continuing state ownership and support of some major
> utilities, like Electricité de France, is creating friction with
> neighboring nations that have privatized faster. Even old-fashioned
> energy monopolies like Electricité de France have a role to play in the
> energy future Mr. Prodi foresees, he said, by helping with the
> transition.
> Mr. Prodi put the cost of converting Europe to a decentralized energy
> grid based on hydrogen fuel cells placed at or near the point of energy
> consumption at about five times the cost of installing a mobile-phone
> network. "The cost is enormous," he said, "but it is not out of reach."
> Without involvement of the private sector, the project will not succeed,
> he said, but companies will become involved in building the new energy
> network only if there is a strong political will behind them. What if
> the looked-for dawn of cheap hydrogen energy never breaks? "Maybe this
> will fail," Mr. Prodi said. "But then there are no other serious
> alternatives."

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