Connecting offshore wind farms to the public grid is still fraught with problems. The main challenge is how to transmit the large amounts of energy generated in the North and Baltic Sea to the coast, since the lines have not yet been adapted to the task.
From January 23 through 25, many high-profile figures visited Berlin for the Handelsblatt magazine’s Energy Summit. Among them was Peter Altmaier, who used the opportunity to deliver a speech detailing what role hydrogen technology could have in a future energy system.
At the FC Expo in Tokyo in late February, Hydrogentle, based in Hamburg, said it would collaborate with other stakeholders in the industry to install a countrywide network of hydrogen fueling stations in Germany to offer drivers a wide range of places to fill up their commercial vehicles. To this end, it signed an agreement with an unnamed partner company about adding hydrogen pumps to truck stops alongside German autobahns. In all, 30 stops are expected to be put up in nearby industrial areas, although the number could ultimately rise to 52.
Hydrogen is an oft-discussed topic in and around Hamburg these days: In summer last year, the city became the birthplace of the Hydrogen Industry Network in Northern Germany. In November 2018, it was where the economy and transportation ministers of the German states on the coastline met for a conference on a joint hydrogen strategy for the region. H2-international talked to Heinrich Klingenberg, the network’s spokesman and chief executive of hySolutions, about the organization’s plans and the future role of the city.
On March 5, at the Geneva International Motor Show, Roland Gumpert showed attendees his Nathalie Race, an electric sportscar named after his daughter. The distinctive feature of the coupe, unveiled in spring 2018, is the engine under the hood: Gumpert, who designed Audi Quattro’s four-wheel drive, said it had been important to him “to build an electric car that doesn’t grind to a halt because the battery is drained but generates electricity during the ride. To achieve this, we used a fuel cell that produces hydrogen from a methanol-water blend.” The fuel cell was made by Serenergy, based in Denmark.
In 2019, Reinhard Christiansen, the chief executive of Energie des Nordens, or EdN, is continuing at the same pace at which he implemented his ideas last year. On January 24, he signed a purchase deal for another PEM electrolyzer, in addition to the 225-kilowatt unit, type ME 100/350 by H-Tec Systems, that was started up in October 2018. He is planning to have the new and larger ME 450/1400 device with a capacity of 1 megawatt installed in the German town of Haurup. Reportedly, this second plant will inject 3.75 million kilowatt-hours of hydrogen, produced from surplus wind power, into Germany’s pipeline system.
A small, decentralized power-to-gas system was started up in a residential development in Augsburg, Germany, at the beginning of this year. Exytron, the Rostock-based manufacturer of the installation, said it was the first of its kind around the globe to store surplus renewable electricity in synthetic natural gas and extract power when needed. With the help of the company’s SmartEnergyTechnology, “the system reduces emissions by 70 percent to 100 percent,” said the business’s sales director, Klaus Schirmer.
On January 17, in Berlin, the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, also known as DWV, and the German Association of the Gas and Water Industries, or DVGW, signed an agreement to step up their efforts to help set up a power-to-gas market. At the signing ceremony, which was attended by Thomas Bareiß, who has a leading role in the economy ministry, both organizations said they aimed to “gradually turn today’s fossil fuel economy into a climate-friendly energy system” by replacing natural with synthetic gas one step at a time.
Hans-Olof Nilsson from Sweden is an electrical engineer who used to work in the refrigeration and telecoms industries and now co-manages a clean energy consulting firm focusing on off-grid solar power and hydrogen storage solutions. A few years back, he decided to go off-grid, by storing solar energy in summer as hydrogen to keep warm in the cold Swedish winter. One day, he invited me to visit his house, which has more than 5,380 square feet (over 500 square meters) of space and is just 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) away from Gothenburg.
In January, Eui-sun Chung, the executive vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Company, was named co-chair of the Hydrogen Council. He now heads the organization together with Benoît Potier, Air Liquide’s chief executive and chairman of the council since its founding in 2017. Both stressed the import of creating a zero-carbon hydrogen society.