The deal with Amazon – which basically acquired a stake in Plug Power (Nasdaq: PLUG) through warrants and, at the same time, placed orders to have its forklift trucks retrofitted – may be the reason why Walmart has agreed to a change in the terms for its large Plug booking, which will improve the situation for the latter. Walmart was the first big Plug customer to request forklift conversions and an H2 refueling infrastructure at its logistics centers.
A second-quarter loss of USD 1.2 million or USD 0.01 per share is one thing, but a more than 50 percent year-on-year jump in revenue to USD 26.1 million is quite another. Canadian-based Ballard (Nasdaq: BLDP) managed to push the gross margin to 38 percent, so that earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were at positive USD 1.1 million. That’s plus USD 0.4 million through the first half year. Revenue grew by 45 percent to USD 49.2 million during the same period.
More and more news reports, talk shows and interviews with leading politicians in Germany are making explicit mention of fuel cells – sadly, most of the time only in reference to the diesel scandal among the country’s automakers. Still, it’s a clear sign that people are becoming aware of the technology’s potential. Pierre-Etienne Franc, secretary general of the Hydrogen Council, has said recently: “The years 2020 to 2030 will be for hydrogen what the 1990s were for solar and wind. It’s a real strategic shift.”
Hydrogenics (Nasdaq: HYGS) has a full schedule with USD 151.2 million in backlog for several types of fuel cell applications, from truck conversion kits (Scania in Norway) to bus stacks in China to H2 refueling stations and power-to-gas systems. A loss of USD 5.7 million (minus USD 0.45 per share) in the second quarter can be considered a temporary slump, as the company said that some shipments had been moved to the third. Hydrogenics intends to stick to the forecast it had published for the entire year.
ITM Power (London: ITM) based in the UK was able to increase bookings by GBP 4.87 million to GBP 23.54 million. Projects for which contracts should be awarded soon have a combined value of GBP 16.67 million, so that the expected backlog is at around GBP 40 million. An intriguing product development is ITM’s recent showcase of a 50-megawatt electrolyzer design at the Las Vegas trade show SPI. It reportedly made it possible to produce 20 tons of hydrogen per day.
In early July, the first Model 3 cars finally left Tesla’s factory, an occasion that resulted in great enthusiasm among analysts and shareholders alike. Initial production was limited to 30 units – 20 for employees and 10 for test drives. Custom-made versions, maybe? It doesn’t look like actual series production, but the event was an effective PR tool to launch the new mass-produced electric vehicle.
The current standard in all things transportation is China. It makes policy with which even automakers in Germany need to comply if they want to keep their foot in the door. Air pollution in many large Chinese cities is so high that politicians have been forced to take drastic measures. It is the reason why the government is providing massive amounts of subsidies to promote electric transportation, which has led to half of all electric vehicles worldwide being manufactured in China – and driven there as well.
Since this summer, the Energy Observer, a solar-wind-hydrogen catamaran, has been roaming the seas. After nearly four years of preparation, the ship was christened in July and the crew could set off on their journey. The initiators of the project plan to be at sea for nearly six years and stop in around 50 countries to inform about renewable energies, showcase sustainable technologies and demonstrate their potential. The focus is on energy autonomy.
As a clean yet effective energy source, hydrogen can be used to not only power vehicles on the road and in the air, but also propel vessels on the water and deep below the surface. So far, however, attempts to design a fuel cell vessel for travelling on rivers, lakes and oceans have been few and far between. Even though no such ship has made it onto the market yet, it’s not as if the maritime industry cannot point to many years of developing alternative systems.
Nearly 120 attendees met for the annual power-to-gas strategy conference on June 20 in Berlin, where the German Energy Agency, dena, previewed a new road map to call for greater openness to new technologies and the improvement of energy storage policies. Another important agenda item was the introduction of hydrogen and synthetic methane to the fuel and heat market.