I’ve been following the hydrogen and fuel cell industry for 20 years. In 1997, you couldn’t even call it a niche market. Back then, many engineers didn’t know the term “fuel cell” existed at all and hydrogen was just another element of the periodic table. Only a handful of companies were tinkering with metal hydride storage or phosphoric acid fuel cells. Within a few years, the technology became the latest development everyone in the automotive and heating industry was pinning their hopes on. But nothing came of the ambitious plans businesses were announcing. Even years later, the situation hadn’t changed.
When electric transportation became the next big thing, it ushered in a new era of technological progress and peaceful co-existence between fuel cells and batteries. In those days, the editorial team of HZwei – the German-language version of H2-international – made a conscious choice to add electricity-powered vehicles to the magazine to be able to give equal treatment to the various technologies.
It was during that time that the National Organization Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology was tasked with developing electric transportation in addition to H2 and fuel cells. In Stuttgart, Peter Sauber Agentur expanded the scope of its fuel cell event, f-cell, to include the Battery+Storage, and in Hanover Tobias Renz added “Batteries” to the title of its shared booth for hydrogen and fuel cells.
Much has happened since then. Electric transportation has become established both in research and industry, and it now has its own trade shows, conferences and professional publications to show for.
It also offered another exciting avenue: energy storage, a field that is much closer than battery-electric vehicles to what HZwei used to focus on. We think it is now time for us to do some “spring cleaning” and redesign the content in this magazine.
Longtime readers might have noticed that unlike in the past, battery-powered cars were not at the center of the latest issues – except in Sven Jösting’s stock analyses (see Tesla). Conversely, energy storage has gained in prominence over the past years, just as hydrogen has become an increasingly popular choice for storage beyond the gas and energy industry.
H2 and fuel cell developments have become so commonplace that they can easily fill a quarterly publication. The HZwei November issue, which has grown to as many as 64 pages, provides proof of that. Of course, HZwei and H2-international will continue to inform about electric transportation, but with a greater emphasis on fuel cell technology.
A similar trend can be observed in the trade show business. After the EVS30 (see October 2017 issue of H2-international) and a 6-year partnership with Landesmesse Stuttgart, Peter Sauber Agentur Messen und Kongresse said that it wants to go back to organizing the f-cell on its own. Landesmesse Stuttgart, on the other hand, will hold a new event on electric transportation called “elect!” from 2018. Peter Sauber will return the f-cell to the House of the Economy in Stuttgart, where it again intends to put more weight on H2 and fuel cells (see EVS30 – The Electric Industry’s Meeting Point).
Likewise, two event organizers in Munich are rethinking their approach. At the emove360° in October, electric transportation will have to share the limelight with connected and autonomous driving, while the Intersolar – which will take place just half a year later at the same location – intends to incorporate electric vehicles and charging infrastructures into their program. Energy storage has already become an increasingly crucial part of the accompanying ees show over the last three years, but is said to get its own hydrogen and power-to-gas booth in 2018. Currently, the trade show is still looking for suitable partners (see Intersolar Gets Smarter).
The above proves that interest in hydrogen and fuel cells has not faded but intensified and not just in Germany but worldwide.
All I can say is that I’m looking forward to at least another 20 exciting years.