Following a meeting with Italy’s Minister of Productive Activities Antonio Marzano, U. S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced Italy’s intention to join the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy [IPHE]. Italy is one of the core countries that support the IPHE, several other countries have also shown interest.Rome Italy – August 14, 2003 SolarAccess.com] “We are pleased to learn of Italy’s decision to join the partnership for hydrogen and fuel cell technology research, development and demonstration activities,” Secretary Abraham said. “International cooperation is key to achieving hydrogen and fuel cell program goals.” The Government of Italy has a well-developed research and development program addressing hydrogen and fuel cell technology applications in the transportation and electric utility sectors. Italy and the U.S. cooperate under a bilateral science and technology agreement, as well as under the Implementing Agreements of the International Energy Agency [IEA]. Cooperative research and development activities include the topics of hydrogen production, storage, transport, end-use technologies, and codes and standards. Secretary Abraham called for international collaboration in his speech to the IEA Ministerial meeting held in Paris, France in April. Additionally, Secretary Abraham will host a Ministerial meeting of the IPHE in the fall in the United States. Secretary Abraham is currently traveling in Europe meeting with government officials regarding international energy issues in addition to fuel cell partnership. The IPHE will support the deployment of hydrogen energy technologies, establishing collaborative efforts in hydrogen production, storage, transport, and end-use technologies; common codes and standards for hydrogen fuel utilization; and the sharing of information necessary to develop hydrogen fueling infrastructure. “The vision of the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy is that a participating country’s consumers will have the practical option of purchasing a competitively priced hydrogen power vehicle, and be able to refuel it near their homes and places of work, by 2020,” Secretary Abraham added. A growing number of countries have committed to accelerate the development of hydrogen energy technologies in order to improve their energy, economic, and environmental security. For example, the United States has committed US$1.7 billion for the first five years of a long-term research and development program for hydrogen, hydrogen infrastructure, fuel cells, and hybrid vehicle technologies. The European Union has committed up to 2 billion Euros to long-term research and development of renewable and hydrogen energy technologies. The use of hydrogen as an energy carrier offers several important advantages relative to existing systems. Hydrogen can be derived from multiple feedstocks, which fosters fuel versatility. End-use technologies that employ hydrogen, such as fuel cells, are more efficient and can be used safely while improving the environment and public health, said the DOE.