There has been quite an interest in energy storage recently. And as ever more power-to-gas systems have been popping up all over Germany, project planners are increasingly turning their attention to the key elements found on-site: electrolyzers. These electrochemical units to create hydrogen have been around for a long time.
Last November, H2-international published a first market overview of residential fuel cell systems. This time, we will take a closer look at electrolyzers. To try and map the current situation on the electrolyzer market, we contacted 18 manufacturers, primarily from the German-speaking region, but also from across Europe and North America. Ten of them have sent us details on their electrolyzers. Nine of them have made it onto the product list; Diamond Lite and Proton OnSite provided virtually identical information.
When we compiled our list of currently available electrolyzers, we also asked manufacturers for their opinion on the market outlook of hydrogen technologies in Europe. Their assessment tended toward the positive; all ten businesses participating in the survey at least somewhat agreed that hydrogen technologies were developing at a satisfactory rate across the continent.
Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen with the help of electrical energy is commonly known as water electrolysis. This process matches the oxyhydrogen experiments one may remember from the classroom, albeit in reverse. If the anode and cathode in an electrolyzer cell are separated by a semipermeable membrane or a diaphragm, the gases produced by the process can be directed out of the cell individually.
Fifteen years ago, BMW had still been industriously working on hydrogen-based internal combustion engines. Over the course of eight vehicle generations, the carmaker based in the German state of Bavaria had tried to adapt conventional gasoline engines for efficient, low-emission operation with hydrogen. In 2009, however, BMW halted its efforts. Now, former employees of the corporation are planning to bring about the renaissance of the H2 ICE and develop an upgrade kit
The most important trade show of the heating and sanitation industry, the ISH in Frankfurt, Germany, showed from March 14 through 18 this year what kind of heating systems are in demand these days. Fuel cells did not seem to play much of a role at the event. Only one of the big manufacturers of heating systems made news in this segment, and what for news: Vaillant is on its way out
The who’s who of the energy industry met in Berlin, Germany, between Jan. 24 and 26, 2017, for the 24th annual assembly of German business magazine Handelsblatt in order to discuss developments in energy policy, assess risks and opportunities and develop scenarios for the path ahead.
Heating system manufacturer Vaillant has – again – put its fuel cell business on hold. Management announced on March 14, 2017, during the ISH in Frankfurt, Germany, that it had “reduced development capacities in fuel cells [and] put the market introduction of the fuel cell heating system for single-family buildings on hold for the time being.” Instead, Carsten Voigtländer, CEO of the Vaillant Group, intends to put a greater focus on renewable energy and heat pumps. In his view, “there currently is no fuel cell heating system that would be economically feasible for owners of real estate.”
Heliocentris Energy Solutions, which filed for bankruptcy in late 2016, will be no more, although its expertise will live on. The manufacturing and the education division were sold to different companies, but many employees who worked in Berlin lost their job.
For many years, heating systems based on fuel cells had played a central role on the joint booth Hydrogen + Fuel Cells + Batteries at Hannover Messe. This time, however, the Fuel Cell Initiative, IBZ, was nowhere to be found, not because there was no interest in the technology, but because it has been made available on the market.