An energy self-sufficiency project is set to be tested on the Orkney Islands, UK: Hydrogen from wind power will be used for fuel cell range extenders integrated into electric vans to offer clean transportation. In April 2016, twelve partner companies from six EU countries were awarded the contract for this project
The idea to use fuel cells as range extenders for electric cars is gaining in popularity. Now, Magna International presented its own approach during the 37th International Motor Symposium in Vienna, Austria, at the end of April. As a base component, the Austrian automotive supplier uses a medium-size van, which can go 90 kilometers (56 miles) on electricity alone. But when the battery charge drops below a certain threshold, the fuel cell is turned on to regenerate the power storage
MunichExpo, Germany, has taken a small step back by retracting the name change made in summer 2016 for this year’s event, postponing the issue to 2017. A spokesperson for the Bavarian organizer explained to H2-international that the move was necessary for “legal reasons.” This means that 2016 will still see an eCarTec trade show and an eCarTec Award.
In May 2016, the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH2 JU) got a new executive director. In the middle of that month, Bart Biebuyck took over the task from Bert de Colvenaer, who left in December 2015 – after which Philippe Vannson, the head of the Advanced Energy Systems unit of the European Commission, filled in the role temporarily. Biebuyck used to be Technical Senior Manager at the Fuel Cell Department of Toyota Motor Europe
The EU has decided to continue subsidizing fuel cell heating systems. The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) announced that on June 1, 2016, the European Union launched the PACE project (Pathway to a Competitive European FC mCHP market) with incentives worth EUR 34 million. Its aim is to have more than 2,650 micro-CHP systems installed at non-field test customers by February 2021 to support market ramp-up. At the same time, a monitoring project should provide the feedback needed to enhance any further developments.
Tobias Renz was able to celebrate a bit of a record this year: With overall 160 exhibitors from 25 countries, there have never been so many booths on the joint space of Hydrogen + Fuel Cells + Batteries organized by him. One of the reasons for this success may have been the many participants from the US, which alone had sent 21 industry representatives to the German trade show. America was this year’s partner country of the world’s biggest industrial exhibition.
In the 1960s and 1970s, France’s industry and research departments used to be very proactive in fuel cell development. Then, 1974 came to pass and with it the slogan of “all-electric, all-nuclear” (tout-éléctrique, tout-nucléaire). The number of fuel cell projects fell drastically and remained at its low level until about the end of the 1990s. In the meantime, a great many subsidies have gone into nuclear industry developments: Billions were and are being spent through CEA (Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique) in this field.
The hope for future power plants has a name: BlueStep. A prototype at the Technical University of Berlin burns hydrogen and oxygen with the help of wet air – or, in other words, with the help of wet steam. The project’s predecessor, Greenest, which was launched with the same intention of advancing the development of low-emission plants, also injected steam into the combustor of a gas turbine. This so-called “wet combustion”
Despite announcements to the contrary, the H2 project in Glattfelden in the Swiss canton of Zurich (see HZwei issue from July 2015) will deliver on its promises. At the beginning of March 2016, rumors had it that Axpo and Coop would stop their joint project. The project’s coordinator, Hansjörg Vock from H2 Energy, told H2-international that “the rumors weren’t true,” as “only Axpo had exited the project,” but had done so by mutual agreement.
Like in the last years, nanoFlowcell garnered a lot of attention at this year’s International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland. Like in the last years, there are big announcements, but little to back them up. The 2016 headlines: The QUANTiNO had successfully completed a 14-hour test drive indoors, the car’s range would soon increase to 1,000 kilometers, and a “Quant City” should be created in Switzerland. Given that there is little evidence to support these claims, it seems to confirm people’s suspicions that the announcements are primarily part of a marketing campaign and that none of the projects will be realized in the near future.