In July of this 2017 year we met with the President of Romanian Association for Hydrogen Energy, Ioan Iordache. He was presenting achievements of Romania in the field of hydrogen energy. It was in the frame of Czech hydrogen days, taking place along with the World Hydrogen Technology Conference WHTC2017 in Prague. Czech hydrogen activists were receiving their colleagues from many Eastern European countries: Slovenia, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and Ukraine.
We used this opportunity to interview Dr. Iordache.
• Can you please tell us about the current situation with hydrogen energy development in Romania?
In Romania, there are approximately 50 public universities and a little more than 50 research institutes. However, only 10 - 15 of them are involved constantly in the field of hydrogen and fuel cell. In Romania, the hydrogen and fuel cell projects cover the research areas of energy and materials. In contrast somewhat with the European reality, the projects conducted in Romania are targeted more towards research and less on development or demonstration. Using Scopus, can be found a little more than 100 works (articles or reviews) in the field of fuel cell and hydrogen energy from Romania covering subject areas such as: engineering, materials science, chemistry and chemical engineering, energy, environmental science and mathematics, since 2000. As an overview, Romania is positioned somewhere in the middle of the ranking if we make a comparison with nearby Eastern European countries. Countries such as Russia, Turkey and Poland have more than 300 scientific papers in this field, Greece and Austria with more than 100 scientific papers; Hungary, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Bulgaria are presented with a small proportion, around 50 articles per country.
• When do you expect implementation of first real-life hydrogen projects in your country?
I hope that 2020 will be the line when the hydrogen and fuel cells will make the steep from research to demonstration. In line with that is also the Law no. 34 of March 27, 2017 referring to the infrastructure for the alternative fuels. Romanian Association for Hydrogen Energy welcome the appearance of this law.
• What is the role of the gouvernement in this process? How does your Association interact with country officials?
There is not a special program in order to finance H&FC research, development or implementation. Main financial support is assured by “Ministry of research and innovation” and its subordinated authorities, other ministers like: economy, transport, development, etc., do not finance R&D projects. From our estimation, Romanian research authorities “spend” for H&FC approximate 26 million Euro from 2000. Other country use the term “invest” not “spend”, that tell a lot about vision regarding hydrogen society.
The Association is active, their members inform a lot of authorities or officials but do not have any minimal agreement (letter/statement of understanding) with authorities.
• Is EU helping with this process? Can you give some examples?
EU is not a mother, his tools are a very impartial and uncompromising. In the relationship with the EU, everybody has to be competitive, it is difficult for the new Member States, but it is the only way to increase the competitiveness and the living standards. Even if it is difficult, I encourage Ukraine to be a part of the EU. Please look at the former communist countries, but especially the three Baltic republics.
Romanian’s stakeholders was present until now in six FCH JU projects: MCFC-CONTEX, HyUnder, BioRobur , HyLAW and TeachHy.
• What may be the role of Eastern European countries in the development of H2 technologies in Europe?
First of all, there is need to know exactly what is our resources, and after that we must find the best way to integrate hydrogen as energy vector in it! We must reduce the energy dependences. We must make the most of our resources! We must integrate renewables in order to reduce the proportion of fossil resources in our national energy budget. Here the hydrogen will play and integrant and important role!
• Can you give an advice for Ukraine how to accelerate the arrival of hydrogen energy?
First to be realistic! Do not supra evaluate, the hydrogen way does not come in a few days or a few years!
I recommend for you and Ukrainian potential stakeholders the book “Hydrogen in an International Context: Vulnerabilities of Hydrogen Energy in Emerging Markets” edited by River Publishers, 2017.
And do not forget, according to Angelo Moreno’s statements in opening of the EFC15 conference (Napoli, 2015), “before to be energy vector hydrogen will be a democracy vector”!
Interview repared by Viacheslav Zgonnik