On June 8, the EU followed Germany’s example by announcing a hydrogen strategy. The European Commission even published two road maps, one for energy systems integration and another for clean hydrogen as part of the NextGenerationEU stimulus package and the European Green Deal.
Taking an innovative approach to raising fresh capital, Enapter, an electrolyzer manufacturer based in Pisa, Italy, has launched an equity crowdfunding campaign. In late March, it began offering shares for only a few hundred euros, promising investors dividend payments over a period of five years. Germany’s financial services regulator BaFin greenlighted the investment strategy in spring, the company said.
In late May, transmission network operator Open Grid Europe (OGE) formed a joint venture with TÜV Süd and Horváth & Partners to “provide a path to a hydrogen economy.” During the startup online video call, the united front of chief executives confirmed their intention to explore new markets and bring their expert knowledge in hydrogen technology to industrial, logistics and transportation companies to allow them to draw on this valuable resource.
ITM Power is growing. In mid-May, the company introduced its subsidiary, ITM Motive, which will build and operate hydrogen gas stations in the UK. The role of chief executive went to Duncan Yellen, 54, a physicist and materials researcher by trade and former project development manager for Storengy, an Engie subsidiary. At present, ITM Motive runs eight public hydrogen fueling stations, a number expected to grow to 11 by the end of this year. All stations are equipped with ITM Power electrolyzers. Compressors are provided by Linde, a major shareholder and joint-venture partner.
Lately, potential customers from all over the world are complaining about the severe shortage of fuel cell buses. However, automakers have only themselves to blame. The few clean buses that have made it onto the market are either hybrid or all-electric. It is a rare specimen that runs on fuel cells.
Although the European Commission funded many hydrogen and fuel cell projects in the last several years, the industry sector was rarely mentioned in Brussels. That changed in 2019, when high-ranking German politicians started taking a second look at the technology.
Hybridge and Element Eins, two German flagship power-to-gas projects, have been put on hold. Managed by transmission system operators, the projects failed to secure government approval. Stakeholders now hope regulations will relax once Germany has introduced its national hydrogen strategy. Opponents warn that such a move would distort market competition.
There it is – the national hydrogen strategy. Five federal ministries presented the cabinet-approved final concept in Berlin on June 10. Querulous months of intense cross-ministry wrangling over hydrogen colors, the targeted electrolyzer capacity and committee rosters preceded strategy publication as sector representatives prowled, yearning for news. Ultimately, the governing coalition agreed on a whopping EUR 7 billion package, plus an additional 2 billion for potential hydrogen export countries.
Europe is leading the way in developing the breakthrough technologies needed to realise hydrogen’s energy potential. With hydrogen-powered buses and taxis being used across major cities, we have demonstrated that the technology can be used on a large scale.
This March, the German gas and water industries association DVGW published the findings of a study called “Hydrogen electric vehicles – trends and outlook,” which the organization had commissioned to evaluate the prospects for hydrogen in the transportation sector.