Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Mr. Özhan Üzümcuoglu at the UNIDO Special Event on Hydrogen Energy

Özhan Üzümcuoglu 01.07.2008
Distinguished Chair,
Panelists and Participants,

At the outset I would like to thank the organizers of this special event which is part of the innovation fair, during the High Level Segment of ECOSOC.

As we all know, today's economic activity is mostly based on the utilization of fossil fuels which had harmful environmental consequences. The primary contributor to climate change is the emission of carbon-dioxide, released by burning of fossil fuels.

These environmental problems lead us to seek for alternative and reliable energy sources. In addition to the environmental concerns, the limited and finite supply of fossil fuels should increase our attention in that direction. However, with their existing advantages, fossil fuels are still likely to play a major role in energy production in the medium term future. Nevertheless, following a peak in the foreseeable future, the level of petroleum production will enter a terminal decline.

Increasing problems, related to the continuous use of fossil fuels and the decline of their availability, requires a coherent and comprehensive global energy strategy dealing with every aspect of this issue. In this respect, Millennium Development Goal No. 7, targets the integration of the principles of sustainable development into country policies, and the reversion of the loss of environmental resources.

It is expected that 2/3 of the increase in world energy demand will soon come from developing countries. Although developing regions continue to emit far less carbon dioxide than developed regions, they will catch up and overtake the developed world in terms of energy consumption and gas emissions.

As global energy consumption continues to expand, progress has been made in the development and use of cleaner energy technologies (such as the use of renewable sources). Thus it is imperative that developing world "leap frog" over conventional energy path directly to the cleanest possible technologies. Improvement of hydrogen energy technologies is an important step in that direction. For example, the automotive industries in developing countries (such as in Asia) would ideally focus on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

There seems that the use of hydrogen for the sustainable development of Small Island Developing Countries (SIDs) have also a potential. I believe we will be enriched by the presentations of the panelists in this context.

Higher energy efficiencies and increased use of local energy sources can be achieved in the short term. However, in the longer term, we could expect, redesign of life styles, more supply of alternative energy sources and a shift towards new energy carriers such as hydrogen.

Every energy source requires a carrier like electricity. Hydrogen is an alternative carrier having cleaner, safer and more efficient properties. Although it is not widely used today, it has a potential to address most of the energy needs in a low-carbon economy of our future, and has many possible applications.

In my country hydrogen is not yet used with a commercial scope for energy generation but is mainly used in other areas. Several research institutions and universities are conducting studies for economical fuel cells and new technologies. The production of hydrogen is possible from solar, wind, tidal and geothermal energy sources in Turkey. Moreover, the Black Sea is the world's largest water body containing hydrogen sulfide providing a good source for hydrogen production.

Turkey also showed her interest for the implementation of a hydrogen inclusive economy in the international front, through the generous (40 Million dollars) patronage of the Turkish Ministry of Energy to the International Center for Hydrogen Energy Technologies (UNIDO-ICHET). This young Center founded in 2003, in Istanbul, under the authority of UNIDO is one of the biggest individual projects of this organization especially in the field of energy. The Center's main objective is to demonstrate viable technologies for the widespread use of hydrogen. This expanding project is particularly focused on activities in developing countries and tries to facilitate the integration of hydrogen energy technologies into public policies. In a period, while the price of fossil fuels is rising rapidly and their production level is saturated, the importance of the activities of ICHET will be admired more.

The Center helps to bridge the gap, in hydrogen energy related R&D activities, between developed and developing world and provides support to hydrogen energy projects aiming to overcome difficulties encountered in funding. The pilot projects should promote the production of hydrogen from preferably renewable energy sources and its stationary and transport applications. For such projects, up to a 2 million dollar funding per annum is available through the channels of ICHET.

As it has clearly put forward in the 2005 World Summit Outcome document, there are important achievements and great potential of South - South cooperation. ICHET project is also important as a good example in encouraging the promotion of such cooperation.

In line with her dedication in alternative hydrogen energy issues, Turkey, moreover, joined the Hydrogen Implementing Agreement and the Advanced Fuel Cells Implementing Agreement of the International Energy Agency in 2007.

Finally I may say that ICHET is a kind of project that we are proud of hosting and promoting. It is clear that, not only Turkey or UNIDO will benefit from that project but it is a useful tool in helping a wide range of countries. We believe more countries will be involved in the activities of this Center and willingly contribute in financial terms in the coming period.

In general, we value the mandates of UNIDO and appreciate its activities in terms of development with a special focus on energy issues. This Center is not the only part of our collaboration with UNIDO and we are willing to improve our relations.

In conclusion, I believe that the panel discussion will help to promote new ideas and cooperation among especially developing world in terms of a hydrogen inclusive economy. And I convey my Ambassador's best wishes who could not attend our meeting due to a health problem.

I thank you for your kind attention.