On June 11, scores of industry representatives arrived at the headquarters of the transportation ministry in Berlin to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the National Organization Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology, better known by its German acronym NOW. However, one prominent figure was conspicuously absent from the event, and that someone was Andreas Scheuer, the head of the department. He was in the building that day but had made other plans: Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche had been invited to talk about the diesel scandal and nitrogen oxide emissions. Be as it may, in no way did the minister’s absence dampen the mood at the celebration.
NOW was founded as a federal government organization in 2008 to offer a platform for exchanging ideas and knowledge between the worlds of politics, industry and science about how to introduce clean and sustainable ways to power vehicles and produce energy. At first, it had been tasked with supporting hydrogen and fuel cell development but later took on additional responsibilities, namely to popularize electric vehicles and implement the government’s fuel strategy. It used to have nine staff members in addition to a chief executive officer, Klaus Bonhoff, and a chief financial and operations officer, Kai Klinder. The number has since grown to 40 employees, who occupy four floors in the office building on Fasanenstrasse in Berlin. In 2011, Wolfgang Axthammer joined the company and replaced Klinder as the second member of the executive board.
“In partnership with industrial businesses and the scientific community, we intend to demonstrate the viability of hydrogen and fuel cells. This will not only benefit the environment but also create future-proof jobs here at home. […] The founding of NOW will allow the design of marketable, energy-efficient and globally competitive products for use in transportation, the energy sector and the consumer market.”
Wolfgang Tiefensee, then minister of transportation, speaking in 2008
“I am glad that, at the time, people had the courage to take those risks [that is, found a company owned by the federal government].”
Klaus Bonhoff, chief executive of NOW, in 2018
All’s well that ends well
The 10-year anniversary celebration, held in the courtyard of the ministry building, bore the slogan “Batteries and fuel cells for transportation and energy – RD&D, commercialization, future challenges,” and was attended by many professionals well known throughout the industry. Among them were two professors who used to be employed at the ZSW, Jürgen Garche and Werner Tillmetz, and Nilgün Parker, administrator in the department while it was headed by Tiefensee. Each of them played a crucial role in the creation of the National Innovation Program Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology, or NIP for short.
read more: H2-international October 2019