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Cablegate: Iceland has Largest Hydrogen Vehicle Fleet in Europe

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PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHRK #0019 0321601
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 011601Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4276
INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000019

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD EFIN CVIS SENV IC
SUBJECT: ICELAND HAS LARGEST HYDROGEN VEHICLE FLEET IN EUROPE

1. (U) Minister of Industry Katrin Juliusdottir handed out keys to
ten Ford Focus Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) to customers at a January
25 ceremony in Reykjavik hosted by Icelandic New Energy and
Brimborg, a local Ford retailer. In her remarks, the Minister
commented on the progress in Iceland towards using environmentally
friendly vehicles. She expressed hope that use of such vehicles in
the public sector and in some of Iceland's municipalities would set
a positive example. She noted that she had already test driven both
gas electric hybrid and methane powered vehicles. As the Minister
and CDA Sam Watson then test drove one of the vehicles, she
commented that the car's quiet whir reminded her of a space ship.


2. (U) The ceremony marked another step towards the government's
goal of increased use of renewable energy vehicles. Iceland's near
complete reliance on geothermal and hydro power as well as
geothermal heating means that land transportation is the last area
in which to reduce carbon emissions. In 1998, the GOI set a policy
to increase the use of domestic renewable (geothermal) energy in
transportation by using local electricity to substitute for
hydrocarbon based imported fuel. Since 1999, Icelandic New Energy
has been working to facilitate the integration of hydrogen as a fuel
into Icelandic society. In addition, the Minister sees this as a
possible way to develop new sectors.

3. (U) According to dealership officials, Ford views Iceland as a
suitable and convenient location to conduct field research in this
new technology. Ford's recognition of Iceland's experience,
research and skills in handling hydrogen is the key reason for
testing its products and seeking customer feedback. These
additional ten cars will make the total hydrogen vehicle fleet the
largest one in Europe with 22 hydrogen vehicles operating in
Reykjavik.

4. (U) In his remarks, the Iceland New Energy official offered to
lease a hydrogen vehicle to the Embassy. Charge agreed to
investigate the possibility. (Comment: We would be happy to add a
hydrogen vehicle to our fleet, but our understanding is that it
would need to be four wheel drive in Iceland. Having one non-four
wheel drive vehicle for use in Reykjavik only strikes us an
excellent way to encourage both renewable energy vehicles and U.S.
manufacturers. We will look into this possibility through
appropriate channels. End Comment).

WATSON

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