The SOLIDpower Group came under new leadership at the end of 2021. On Dec. 1, Martin Füllenbach took over the reins from Andreas Pichler who stepped down after his term of office expired following three years of service at the fuel cell equipment manufacturer.
The search for alternatives to Russian natural gas is in full swing. Even before the march into Ukraine, some stakeholders had been advocating the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the USA – as an alternative to Nord Stream 2. However, since the US exports gas obtained by fracking, which does not have a positive image in Germany, the German government is currently also trying to reach out to other source countries, for example in the Middle East, particular Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Since April 2022, the former head of communications at the German national organization for hydrogen and fuel cells (Nationale Organisation Wasserstoff- und Brennstoffzellentechnologie GmbH, NOW) has been working at the German association for gas and water standards (Deutscher Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches e.V., DVGW). Tilman Wilhelm, who had been responsible for the public image of NOW since 2008, henceforth works as head of regulatory policy, press and public relations at the trade association. Dr. Gerald Linke, managing director of the DVGW, said, “With Tilman Wilhelm, a proven hydrogen and mobility expert with excellent political connections in Berlin and on the EU level is taking over responsibility for communications at the DVGW.”
Hydrogen is now also making its presence felt in cultural quarters thanks to two associations based in Hamburg, Germany: The hydrogen society Wasserstoff-Gesellschaft Hamburg has organized a hydrogen-themed poster competition in partnership with the Kulturaustausch Hamburg-Übersee, an arts charity with its own gallery and publishing house. The 19th edition of the poster contest, which always has a contemporary theme, had previously been delayed by the pandemic. As a result, the exhibition opened on Oct. 30, 2021, and the award ceremony finally took place at the end of February 2022.
At the stock exchange, you may get the feeling that all companies dealing in fuel cells and hydrogen technologically and as a business model are one group moving in parallel, as expressed in the trend of their stock prices. However, this is far too undifferentiating, because the companies rely on completely different business strategies. One builds filling stations for hydrogen and produces electrolyzers (e.g. Nel, ITM, Plug Power, Bloom), while another produces fuel cell stacks and modules (e.g. Ballard Power, PowerCell, Cummins, Weichai Power).
The company is about to enter a phase of exponential, long-term growth, is my interpretation of the earnings call on March 14, 2022 regarding the 2021 annual figures and the fourth quarter. Year 2023 should really start off with Ballard reaping the fruits of years of intensive research and development, various pilot projects and building up production capacities. The Canadian company is working on scaling production capacity in the target markets bus, truck, rail and ship. But that doesn’t happen overnight.
Finally: FuelCell Energy has agreed and settled with South Korean company Posco. FuelCell is now independent from Posco again and can pursue other opportunities in Asia. The company figures of FuelCell Energy are not yet very convincing, given the last quarterly results: a measly 14 million USD turnover. Although there are pending orders of 1.29 billion USD in the books, so far seemingly few new orders are coming in. The cooperation with ExxonMobil was extended once again, but with no new conditions to report.
The plans are huge: three sites are to start production already this year. The first target for the current fiscal year is 70 tonnes of hydrogen per day. This should enable a profit margin of 30 percent. Of this, 40 to 50 tonnes per day are needed for existing activities and 20 to 30 t/day will be brought to market as a tradable commodity, is my expectation.
Cummins Engine is highly committed to the H2 industry – also in the commercial vehicle sector, starting with trucks and going all the way to ships. The company is also expanding its own electrolysis technologies. A project with Sinopec consists of an electrolysis capacity of 1 GW – 1,000 H2 fueling stations for the Greater Peking Area. Cummins Engine is vehemently driving its transformation from a diesel engine producer to a fuel cell company and in doing so majorly implementing and scaling the special knowhow of the purchased/integrated Canadian company Hydrogenics.
What an outstanding view K. R. Sridhar, CEO of Bloom Energy, describes: Bloom is on track to achieve annual growth of up to 35 percent instead of the previous 25 to 30 percent, as the company is optimally positioned – technologically and in terms of business model – in H2 energy markets around the world.