A leading fuel cell solution

Randy MacEwen
Interview with Randy MacEwen

Ballard Power Systems is a pioneer in the fuel cell industry. Since 1983, fuel cells have been developed in the company founded by Geoffrey Ballard in Burnaby near Vancouver. Randy MacEwen has been President & CEO of the Canadian fuel cell manufacturer since 2014. On October 23, 2019, the International Hydrogen Symposium brought him to Hamburg where H2-international seized the opportunity for an interview.

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Iceland: From pioneer to laggard

Borehole for geothermal energy in Iceland
Borehole for geothermal energy in Iceland, © ON Power, Iceland.

Iceland was quick to recognise the opportunities offered by hydrogen and fuel cells for the transport sector – but has unfortunately made little of them to date. At the end of the last millennium, the Nordic island was regarded as a pioneer in the field of hydrogen, because it considered the vision of a sustainable hydrogen economy to be quite feasible.

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Cost-effective and flexible

Schematic of the 100-bar PEMEL system as a container solution from the project partner iGas Energy.
Schematic of the 100-bar PEMEL system as a container solution from the project partner iGas Energy [1]

Green hydrogen, preferably produced by electrolysis, links the energy, industry and mobility sectors and is an important tool to enable the integration of renewable energies. Proton exchange membrane electrolysis (PEMEL) is considered the most promising technology due to its power density and dynamics.

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H2-Innovations-Campus in Görlitz

Joe Kaeser
Joe Kaeser, © Siemens

Hydrogen technology and steam turbines – this is the motto in Görlitz from now on. After the planned closure of the Siemens plant on the Polish border, announced two years ago, had caused a great deal of displeasure, the major corporation gave in and signed a declaration of intent in mid-July 2019 together with the Free State of Saxony and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in order to strengthen the location in the long term and support structural change in Lausitz.

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BDR wants to install 400 H2 boilers

 H2 boiler without CO2 from Remeha.
H2 boiler, © BDR Thermea

The BDR Thermea Group commissioned a hydrogen-powered boiler at the end of June 2019. The pilot plant, which was developed at the BDR-Thermea competence centre for research and development in Italy, is located in Rozenburg, the Netherlands, and is supplied with sustainably produced hydrogen by the regional gas network operator Stedin, who also initiated the project.

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Fire at an H2 station in Norway

On 10 June 2019, a hydrogen filling station in Norway caught fire. While several media talked about an explosion, the electrolyzer manufacturer involved, Nel, stated that leaked hydrogen gas caught fire in the open air, causing a shock wave.

Seconds after ignition, it can be seen how pure hydrogen burns with only a weakly visible flame, © VG

On 10 June 2019, a hydrogen filling station in Norway caught fire. While several media talked about an explosion, the electrolyzer manufacturer involved, Nel, stated that leaked hydrogen gas caught fire in the open air, causing a shock wave. According to police reports, two people were slightly injured in this incident in Sandvika, west of Oslo, when the airbags of their cars deployed. After initial tests, it was said a few days later that hydrogen had escaped through a leak in the high-pressure storage system and had ignited. However, no tank had burst.

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Austria as hydrogen nation No. 1

On 2 July 2019, Sebastian Kurz, chairman of the new Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), and his party colleague Elisabeth Köstinger jointly presented their climate protection package.

On 2 July 2019, Sebastian Kurz, chairman of the new Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), and his party colleague Elisabeth Köstinger jointly presented their climate protection package. The goal formulated therein is to make the Alpine republic CO2-neutral by 2045. According to Kurz, hydrogen should play a key role in this process: “This is not only a clean alternative hope for the future in the field of mobility, but also a great opportunity for Austria to become the world’s number one hydrogen nation.

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