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Fuel Cells In The New Age of 'Preferred Energy'

Address by Fuel Cell Canada President and CEO John Tak at the 2005 EDTA Conference and Exhibition

By EV World

"Two weeks ago, Globe Net reported that the heads of 18 major corporations came forward with a statement urging [then-Canadian] Prime Minister Paul Martin to develop a long-term climate change plan that extends beyond the time line of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. This is the first time that such a large group of executives has publicly acknowledged and endorsed a corporate role in the reduction of greenhouse emissions," stated John Tak, the President and CEO of Fuel Cell Canada at the 2005 conference of the Electric Drive Transportation Association in Vancouver.

In his 20-minute presentation, Tak, who has held a number of managerial positions including with the British Columbia Trade and Development Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation, briefed the conference attendees on the status of Fuel Cell Canada, with an emphasis on the drivers of the technology.

He noted that the pace of economic activity worldwide continues to accelerate, especially with the entry of China and India, but that we're also "running smack into the simple reality that the world is a small place and getting smaller."

"More and more, we understand how limited our resources are and how sensitive our ecosystem is. Economies are being affected, and more importantly, the negative impact of unrestrained growth on our natural environment, our future, are profound.

"Consider that in the last hour, the world's population has grown by almost 10,000 people," he stated. "So far this year, there are 80 million more of us".

Tak introduced the phrase "preferred energy" when talking about what we've traditionally called "alternative" energy.

"In our business environment, we seek to understand the changes around us by analyzing what drives these changes, and for alternative energy, which is now more appropriately called preferred energy, the drivers are climate change, pollution reduction, energy security, energy reliability, health costs and innovation-based job creation.

"Climate change is now generally accepted as a fact. People formally opposed to action on it, are now proponents, he emphasized, pointing out that heads of major corporations are now calling for government policies that extend beyond the 2012 terminus of the Kyoto Protocol.

Tak noted that in 2004, British Prime Minister Tony Blair stated:

"What is now plain is that the emission of greenhouse gases is causing global warming at a rate that is alarming and simply unsustainable in the long term; and by the long term, I mean within the lifetime of my children, certainly, and possibly within my own. And by unsustainable, I don't mean a phenomenon causing problems of adjustment. I mean a challenge so far reaching in its impact and irreversible in its destructive power that it alters radically human existence."

Tak went on to tell the conference that Japan recently announced its plan to completely eliminate, as a nation, all carbon dioxide emissions by 2100.

"Under their New Energy Technology Vision plan, the Japanese aim to reduce emissions of CO2 by automobiles and homes to zero".

He sees this is auguring well for the hydrogen fuel cell industry.

On the topic of energy security, he stated, "Global energy demand is now 50 percent higher than it was only 20 years ago; and will likely increase over 50 percent between now and 2030."

"Let me put that into context. It is projected that by 2030, China will need 95 million barrels of oil a day. Today, the whole world consumes 85 million.

"Urgent action is required to reduce consumption of oil, however, our enormous dependence on oil and the good service that oil has provided won't allow this to happen quickly. We will continue using oil, but must reduce its impact and seek to develop a diversity of alternative supplies."

Tak used this statement to segue into the need, initially, to create hydrogen from fossil fuel sources like natural gas. "However, the efficiency of a fuel cell reduces both consumption and emissions," he noted. "In this way, fuel cells are a critical stepping stone on our path away from high carbon fuels to low carbon fuels, and eventually on to zero-carbon fuels."

On the point of energy reliability, he reminded everyone of the impact the 2005 hurricane season had on U.S. energy production, forcing the federal government to make use of its Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The shut down of America's centralized energy processing facilities along the Gulf Coast underscored the need to de-centralize and diversify its energy system.

Quoting Michael Cleland, the President of the Canadian Gas Association, Tak said, "If there is a magic bullet, it would be diversity of energy sources; no single source is going to solve the growing energy gap between energy supplies and demand in a sustainable fashion."

Shifting his attention to the health drivers, Tak observed that "the cost impact is so significant that even a 10 percent reduction of North America's accelerating health budget, already in the 100s of billions of dollars, would free up capital to reduce deficits or to apply to new investments, to say nothing of the productivity from a healthier workforce.

"China's pollution problem is so severe that many worry that it alone may halt economic growth." He added that the U.S. and Canada also face similar challenges and wondered why these costs aren't included in the price of oil-based fuel.

"All this cements the fact that we have to make a major shift in the way we produce and consume energy, and that leads me to electric drive trains…"

You can listen all of Mr. Tak's address in which he discusses the roled Fuel Cell Canada is playing in helping drive development of this technology. You can download the 5MB file to your computer hard drive for playback on your favorite MP3 device or play it from this page using the Flash-based MP3 player in the right-hand column .

EV World expresses its appreciation to the EDTA for granting use permission to record this and other presentations during the 2005 conference.

EVWORLD Future In Motion Podcast

Download MP3 File

Times Article Viewed: 10022
Published: 14-Feb-2006

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