Hurray for hydrogen!

Hybrid event marks f-cell’s 20th anniversary

Trade shows and conferences

Fig. 1: Attending his last f-cell award ceremony as state environment minister, Franz Untersteller said: “Everyone wants a piece of the hydrogen pie.”
“Everyone wants a piece of the hydrogen pie.”

In 2001, Peter Sauber Messen und Kongresse event management kicked off the f-cell show in Stuttgart, Germany. Since that first, intimate get-together, featuring a small exposition, f-cell has become a hydrogen and fuel cell magnet. In September 2020, f-cell celebrated its 20th anniversary with a hybrid event featuring online and offline sessions. Many attendees thought the in-person meetings at Stuttgart’s Haus der Wirtschaft a blessing, happy and relieved to exchange ideas and phone numbers face to face once more.

A comprehensive Covid-19 response plan allowed fuel cell industry stakeholders to meet in the flesh on Sept. 29 and 30, 2020, holding their first face-to-face conversations in months. At last, they could discuss the latest market developments in person and oh my, was there a lot to report. Never before had the industry received as much attention as it had that year.

On-site and online

Split into two groups of 86 and 100, with seating in the large König-Karl-Halle and the hall below while many more participated remotely, attendees listened to primarily on-site presentations, and a smattering of digital ones. During breaks, hallways leading to the exposition bustled with activity. The event seemed practically normal if you blanked out the masks and proscribed distancing. Still, you noticed how grateful everyone was as they eagerly discussed all things hydrogen and fuel cell (in person!), knowing Sauber and his team’s dedication was the event’s hero.

A month earlier, Sauber’s company had hosted the virtual f-cell+HFC Vancouver event from an office in Dresden. The show had already been postponed twice, from spring to summer to fall. Naturally, those months took a toll on Sauber and his team. They were overjoyed when they pulled it off in the end.

NOW criticizes clean energy bill amendments

Keynote speakers in Stuttgart were Kurt-Christoph von Knobelsdorff, CEO of NOW (see interview on p. 20) and Bart Biebuyck, head of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking. The former presented Germany’s current hydrogen strategy while the latter elucidated the European Union’s approach. In his speech, von Knobelsdorff called German clean energy law changes (see pp. 12 and 16) “disappointing so far,” describing proposed amendments as “the opposite of ambitious,” and lacking “fresh impetus.” Von Knobelsdorff also remarked on the generous funding, EUR 1.2 billion to be exact, adding the real challenge will be spending it wisely on transportation solutions during the program’s comparatively brief run from 2020 to 2023. He then requested anyone with solid implementation ideas to immediately apply for funding.

“We want the German market to lead the world.”

Innovation Commissioner Stefan Kaufmann

One of the 52 exhibitors was Swiss Celeroton, which proudly unveiled a fully integrated plug-and-play compressor. According to sales manager Peter Terstappen, customers need only fuel and power supplies, as the required electronic components are already incorporated. A compact design perfect for vehicle integration, for starters, he added.

German 24-hour Hydrogen Rally

In conjunction with f-cell’s conference, 17 teams lined up on Sept. 28 in Constance to compete in the rally conceived to demonstrate hydrogen’s eco-friendly technology. The racing route traversed three countries and drivers’ scores tallied not only the number of climate-neutral kilometers driven, but also the creativity exhibited in photos taken and videos made along the way – which they then shared publicly on social media. When Peter Sauber heard Covid-19 restrictions prohibited a Swagelok team from crossing the Austrian border, he quickly devised an alternative route that enabled them to participate.

… Read more in the latest H2-International e-Journal, Feb. 2021

Leave a Reply