Wolfgang Reitzle, chief executive officer of Linde, told a group of automotive engineers at a conference in Germany that he believes there will be at least 6 million hydrogen-powered cars in Europe by 2020. Right now he estimates there are roughly 500 hydrogen vehicles on the world's roads, yet remember the refueling infrastructure is currently minimal. Still, he's confident in his prediction and says, "this is a conservative estimate."

The motivation for his speech is fairly evident as Reuters describes his company as the world's largest industrial gases group. Last Monday, Linde inaugurated a new hydrogen center with a filling station, technology test center and training center near Munich at a cost of about E3 million (about $3.75 million).

As Reitzle urged politicians to be more active in long-term planning with hydrogen, he estimated that it would cost about $4 billion to build a hydrogen infrastructure of 2,800 filling stations in Europe, but that the high oil prices would eventually offset the cost. He said, "It would be a shame if Germany were to sleep through a trend in hydrogen technology the way we slept through hybrids."

The article also notes that the company is researching ways to produce hydrogen from regenerative sources through biomass conversion instead using fossil fuels.

[Source: Reuters via MSNBC]

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