Hydrogen and fuel cell industry exudes confidence

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Lies, Fuhrmann, Chatzimarkakis and Diwald at the panel discussion

This year, the mood at the shared space Hydrogen + Fuel Cells + Batteries was as buoyant as it hadn’t been in a long time. Nearly all players in the hydrogen and fuel cell market exuded great confidence during Hannover Messe, held April 23 through 27, and spoke passionately about new interesting projects and orders. It was an experience that stood in sharp contrast to the event’s overall numbers, which seemed to be trending slightly downward. In 2018, Hannover Messe attracted 210,000 attendees, 10 percent more than two years ago. But 2016 had seen no CeMAT taking place at the same time and boosting the number of exhibitors by about just as much.

Prior to the show, Tobias Renz, the organizer of the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells + Batteries exposition in hall 27, had cheerfully told H2-international that an even greater number of electrolyzer manufacturers would exhibit their products this year. In fact, they arrived in such numbers that the elevator pitches, for years a regular feature of the Technical Forum, took twice as long, so that the session had to be split into two held at different times.

Of note was that companies such as McPhy have begun to offer large-scale systems ranging from 20 megawatts to 100 megawatts. In Hanover, it exhibited a modular and scalable solution called Augmented McLyzer. Power density, too, had reached levels that “no one had ever expected of alkaline electrolyzers,” a spokesperson said. Performance now seems to match PEM fuel cells, after the 85-staff business had proudly announced that it had been able to double hydrogen production capacity while keeping efficiency and surface area at previous levels. The breakthrough had been the result of several developments, including a collaboration with De Nora.

Bright outlook

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Although there are many stakeholders striving to develop systems for green hydrogen production, competition among them has been anything but fierce. One likely reason for this is that they expect the market will be large enough for sharing. Werner Diwald, the chairman of the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, said that Germany had the potential to see 2,000 megawatts of electrolyzer capacity being installed provided renewable hydrogen competed on an equal footing with biofuels. He added that the gas would also offer a less expensive way to lower carbon dioxide emissions. On that point, some progress had been achieved in negotiations about the second Renewable Energy Directive in Brussels. At the time of writing, the talks had yet to yield results.

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