On Dec. 1, 2016, Nikola Motor Company presented its first hydrogen truck. Founder and CEO Trevor Milton unveiled the Nikola One in front of 600 invited guests at the company’s headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. The truck is a concept study of an electric semi equipped with a large lithium-ion battery pack and a fuel cell.
The collected works of Peter Hoffmann, the editor of The Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Letter, have now been preserved for posterity and are available as part of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Archives. This database contains all newsletters that Hoffmann published jointly with his wife, Sarah, from 1986 up till his untimely death in April 2014 as well as the information gathered by Fuel Cells 2000 and the newsletters by the International Association for Hydrogen Energy.
This year will be the twenty-third in the history of the joint booth Hydrogen + Fuel Cells + Batteries at the Hannover trade show (April 24 through 28). And since the industry meeting has proved to be a good networking platform, Tobias Renz FAIR and Deutsche Messe will also organize a similar booth at the American trade show this year. The Hydrogen + Fuel Cells North America will take place from Sept. 10 to 13 during the Solar Power International in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh is looking to establish framework agreements with Chinese companies, as he believes the country to be a very promising market. China is said to have already invested more than USD 100 billion in fuel cell technology over the years, as it has recognized that there is large potential to tap (see Ballard). Talks with Chinese-based automotive suppliers are ongoing. In the US, Plug Power hopes that there will be other tax incentives for fuel cell vehicles. The investment tax credits have certainly been a factor in getting orders for forklift truck retrofits. Donald Trump, however, is said to be opposed to these types of incentives as much as in the wind and solar industry.
A new megatrend needs time to develop. The last 15 years established the foundation for the coming breakthrough of fuel cells and a steadily growing interest in their use. Here’s why: Historically, technological revolutions often needed 15 years before a breakthrough was achieved. But once you’re past that point, everything goes very quickly, since no market actor wants to remain on the sidelines. This is exactly what’s happening to the fuel cell across all markets and applications.
The persuasiveness of Tesla head Elon Musk resulted in more than 90 percent of Tesla and SolarCity shareholders following his recommendation and approving the takeover of the latter. Now, Tesla will expand its electric car portfolio by offering solar roofs. The impact of the merger on Tesla’s financials will show as early as the fourth quarter of 2016, when SolarCity’s results are added to the corporation’s balance sheet. The most important factor is the around USD 3 billion in debt.
FuelCell Energy’s stock went into free fall: Within a few days, the company’s shares had lost half of their value. Management didn’t even see the need to comment on the price drop for some time. On Dec.1, 2016, the Canadian business finally broke its silence and announced in a business update that it was letting go staff to adapt to new and lower projections of annual megawatt power closer to 25 than 50 MW. The move is reported to cut costs by USD 6 million each year.
Despite a higher-than-expected net loss of USD 1.9 million in the third quarter and only USD 6.7 million in revenue – down 30 percent from the same period the year prior – Hydrogenics could report a record USD 106.2 million in order bookings, of which USD 30 million should be realized within the next 12 months. One of the customers that had placed new orders was E.ON, and the integration of fuel cell stacks with trains and streetcars in collaboration with Alstom is turning out to be a success.
The German fuel cell manufacturer Proton Motor based in Puchheim had already experienced major management changes last summer, with Achim Loecher leaving his executive position at the end of July, and Thomas Melczer stepping down from both his executive and non-executive role in the company. Melczer became director of business development and investor relations at parent company Proton Power Systems in December 2010 and temporarily assumed the role of Proton Motor Fuel Cell’s CEO.
Professor Eicke R. Weber stepped down from his position as director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in late 2016. He reportedly did so for age-related reasons, although a successor has not been named yet. Since 2006, Weber had been head of the Freiburg-based institute and professor of physics/solar energy at the University of Freiburg.