For a long time, the wind power industry had no interest in energy storage, because it was much more lucrative to feed the power generated directly into the public grid. However, the end of the 20 years of guaranteed feed-in payments for the first turbines in Germany is in sight. Because of this, operators and planners, including Reinhard Christiansen, are looking for alternatives.
Reinhard Christiansen is the best person to ask about green electricity. By the late 1980s, he had already made significant contributions to wind power in Germany. In 1995, he started designing the first wind farm together with the other people in Ellhöft, a village with a population of 113. After getting the farm running in 2000, Christiansen started four others like it, set up an electrical substation and founded several companies to manage the power systems.
While SOLIDpower’s core business is the supply of energy to residential and commercial buildings, it has recently branched out into IT. As a German-Italian manufacturer of high-temperature fuel cells, it will now provide units to businesses that need to keep servers running. The most well-known partner it has signed a cooperation agreement with is Microsoft.
At the beginning of December, market data and analyses for the fuel cell industry were published by E4tech in The Fuel Cell Industry Review 2017. E4tech is an international consultancy that has been providing insight into the hydrogen and fuel cell industry since 2014. To prepare the review, a team at E4tech contacts fuel cell companies worldwide and aggregates their delivery figures.
In December 2017, there were 91 public hydrogen refueling stations operating in Japan, with another 10 in development, putting the country well on its way to its short-term goal of 160 by 2020. The deployment of stations has been one of Japan’s hydrogen success stories, despite daunting costs and a lack of initial demand.
The good news is that fuel cells for materials handling equipment are no longer confined to a niche market. Entire warehouses in North America are currently being served by hydrogen-powered forklift trucks. This type of fuel cell application is also becoming increasingly popular in Asia and Europe, but their logistics industries will have some catching up to do.
StreetScooter’s battery vehicles have already proven to be a cost-effective solution for day-to-day operations in the mailing industry. Now, the business based in Aachen, Germany, is planning its next move. With the help of the city’s university of applied sciences, it has designed a fuel cell vehicle that can go up to 500 kilometers, or 311 miles, on one tank. Deutsche Post, which bought StreetScooter in 2014, will reportedly use 500 of those cars in a first trial.
Fuel cell offerings for rolling stock are gaining traction these days. The number of regions debating investments in fuel cell trains is steadily growing. During a Nov. 9 press conference last year, Alstom – Europe’s only supplier of rolling stock powered by the technology – held a press conference in Wolfsburg to boost demand even further.
The main group of customers currently driving demand for electric as well as hydrogen vehicles isn’t consumers but fleet operators. One prominent example is BeeZero, a Linde subsidiary. In April 2016, it became the first carpooling service in Germany to add 50 Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles to its task force in Munich.
If there was one thing that the Diesel Summit made abundantly clear, it was the lack of zero-emission, or even low-emission, cars on the German market. The 28 mayors who met with interim chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Nov. 28, 2017, were faced with a dilemma. They would like to purchase electric buses and promote electric cabs, but there aren’t any on the market, at least in Germany.