For a long time, the wind power industry had no interest in energy storage, because it was much more lucrative to feed the power generated directly into the public grid. However, the end of the 20 years of guaranteed feed-in payments for the first turbines in Germany is in sight. Because of this, operators and planners, including Reinhard Christiansen, are looking for alternatives.
Reinhard Christiansen is the best person to ask about green electricity. By the late 1980s, he had already made significant contributions to wind power in Germany. In 1995, he started designing the first wind farm together with the other people in Ellhöft, a village with a population of 113. After getting the farm running in 2000, Christiansen started four others like it, set up an electrical substation and founded several companies to manage the power systems.
StreetScooter’s battery vehicles have already proven to be a cost-effective solution for day-to-day operations in the mailing industry. Now, the business based in Aachen, Germany, is planning its next move. With the help of the city’s university of applied sciences, it has designed a fuel cell vehicle that can go up to 500 kilometers, or 311 miles, on one tank. Deutsche Post, which bought StreetScooter in 2014, will reportedly use 500 of those cars in a first trial.
Fuel cell offerings for rolling stock are gaining traction these days. The number of regions debating investments in fuel cell trains is steadily growing. During a Nov. 9 press conference last year, Alstom – Europe’s only supplier of rolling stock powered by the technology – held a press conference in Wolfsburg to boost demand even further.
The main group of customers currently driving demand for electric as well as hydrogen vehicles isn’t consumers but fleet operators. One prominent example is BeeZero, a Linde subsidiary. In April 2016, it became the first carpooling service in Germany to add 50 Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles to its task force in Munich.
The hydrogen and fuel cell units deployed in heavy-duty applications have been mostly test systems for onboard energy supply. Even those systems are far from being finished products. The shared opinion among research and development laboratories is that the technologies could be used to power cars and trucks, but only up to a certain weight or load.
Langweid am Lech is the first-ever place in Germany where residential fuel cells will meet all energy needs. Regional energy utility Erdgas Schwaben, based in Augsburg, has joined forces with developer Michael Dumberger and heating system supplier Viessmann to install Panasonic fuel cells in each of the 62 duplex and row houses under construction in a new residential zone. Another 43 will reportedly be part of a similar project in Mering.
There is a noticeable feeling of change in the air, and it is not mere hype this time. A current of hope runs through the hydrogen and fuel cell industry. No, there’s no euphoria, but also no longer the sense of discouragement, resignation sometimes, that frequently pervaded the community in past years. The general opinion coming out of the sector is that hard work is finally paying off.
On Oct. 8, 2017, both Elcomax and its wholly owned subsidiary Elcore requested a preliminary bankruptcy hearing at the district court in Munich, Germany. If nothing else, it allowed for business to continue until the end of last year, as wages and salaries were paid through the federal employment department in those three months.
The nuclear products division of the French Areva group has restructured its German subsidiary. On Nov. 1, 2017, it transferred all operations of Areva Germany, based in Erlangen, to New NP. After French energy supplier Électricité de France became the parent company’s major shareholder at the beginning of 2018, the name was changed to Framatome.