Looking at oil prices these days may have you thinking that the sky’s the limit. However, what’s unfavorable, or even detrimental, to one side can benefit the other. Price hikes will just pump more money into alternative energies and R&D. Specifically, green hydrogen and its use as a source of electric power, heat and cooling energy could, along with carbon capture, see unprecedented growth, especially after it took so long for the world to start waking up to its potential.
Canadian manufacturer Ballard (Nasdaq: BLDP) ended the first quarter of 2018 on a total revenue of USD 20.1 million. During the same period a year ago, it generated USD 6.2 million in one-time revenue from technology transfers and engineering support. This amount needs to be taken into account, that is, taken off, if the goal is to paint an accurate picture of year-over-year growth. Still, the company’s gross margin was 33 percent.
Like Canadian competitor Ballard, Hydrogenics (Nasdaq: HYGS) has made investments in several markets, most of all, China, where demand for fuel cells is projected to rise. Both have entered into agreements with Alstom and Siemens. That the latter two have founded a joint venture to merge their railroad divisions suggests to me that keeping two experienced suppliers on board is part of their failsafe system. Ballard has also partnered with China’s CRRC, the world’s largest rolling stock manufacturer.
Plug Power’s first-quarter results were well received by stock market analysts. Net loss was USD 0.07, less than expected, while revenue surged 90 percent year over year, topping USD 29.1 million. At year’s end, earnings are expected to be between USD 155 million and USD 180 million. It has been reported that multiple new, and large, corporations were now part of Plug’s customer base. One of them is said to be a food company that ranks among the top five in the United States.
Tesla’s first-quarter report showed another record loss, USD 700 million, which lowered its cash by a whopping USD 600 million. Considering this, it seems unimportant that revenue jumped to USD 3.41 billion or that Model 3 production is being ramped up to full capacity. Tesla has been burning through massive amounts of money.
In the Netherlands, a power plant running on natural gas is said to be converted into a hydrogen facility. In mid-March, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems announced it would adapt one of Nuon Magnum’s three 440-megawatt combined-cycle units in Eemshaven, in the Groningen region, for hydrogen by 2023. The change in fuel would be part of the ongoing Carbon-Free Gas Power project.
Construction continues on a new power-to-gas system in Grenzach-Wyhlen, Germany, despite considerable opposition. A citizens’ initiative had tried to remove the site from consideration, but Freiburg’s regional authority approved it in mid-March, as the hydrogen-producing facility met federal pollution standards (see H2-international, March 2017). Nevertheless, there have been calls to verify that, once started up, the system would comply with the noise limits set by law.
Nikola Motors, which is developing Class 8 semitrucks that use fuel cell range extenders, announced an order for 800 units from Budweiser while suing Tesla for USD 2 billion, alleging patent infringement. Nikola’s announcement got so much attention that FedEx Corp. put out a notice on the receipt of a fuel cell delivery van.
The eMove360° Europe show, which will be held Oct. 16 through 18, is poised to welcome the fuel cell industry into the fold. The show’s organizer, MunichExpo, has partnered up with the German DWV – Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, among others, to schedule a Fuel Cell Conference for the first day of the event. It is said to be attended by representatives for high-profile companies such as Alstom, Daimler and Toyota.
In mid-2016, industrial gas supplier Linde took the novel approach of creating a free-floating carshare program that offered only fuel cell vehicles. The corporation founded a subsidiary named Linde Hydrogen Concepts to buy 50 Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell cars, which customers could book via an app and pick up at public parking lots instead of designated rental stations.