Two prominent power-to-gas proposals – Hybridge and Element Eins – have received a rejection from Germany’s Federal Network Agency. The network operators Amprion and TenneT had hoped for an easing of regulations as part of the national hydrogen strategy (see H2-international, August 2020). However, the companies have now suffered a setback in a tussle that has since begun over future market share and profitable business areas.
Although Germany’s Coordination Office for Hydrogen officially launched at the end of last year, at that time it was not yet clear who would be working there or where it would be based. Premises are now due to be acquired in April, with central Berlin earmarked as the location. Taking up the leadership role is Philipp Braunsdorf from the National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology, or NOW. He is supported in his role by two deputies, one from the German energy agency dena and the other from the non-profit company ZUG.
When the Club of Rome’s first book was published in 1972 it caused quite a stir. A report on the state of humanity, “The Limits to Growth” was penned by Donella and Dennis Meadows, two scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT in the U.S. Even back then, the two authors were able to demonstrate that each person’s individual, localized behavior not only has an impact locally but has global repercussions and that these repercussions extend beyond an individual person’s time frame and sphere of activity. Since then it’s become clear that the excuse of “what I do here doesn’t bother anyone” no longer stands up to scrutiny.
The reshaping of the energy landscape is well under way. And as the energy industry begins its transformation, it’s become apparent that hydrogen has a major role to play in the new world order – albeit not straightaway, but in the near future. Hence we see every imaginable organization jostling for position to take advantage of this restructuring and perhaps also to shape its direction.
Two-pronged approach causes controvers
Draft legislation on the regulation of hydrogen networks, which was recently unveiled by the German government, has been met with little enthusiasm by the gas industry. In particular, criticism has focused on the distinction drawn between gas and hydrogen infrastructure. This two-pronged approach will prevent coordinated development, it has been claimed. However, there are also those who take a more favorable view and cite the positive effects the legislation will have in terms of clear cost allocation. Further questions remain over hydrogen blending and the kind of possibilities that will be opened up by truly comprehensive cross-sector regulation that also incorporates electricity.
The evocatively named Heidekrautbahn, or heather railroad, has a long history: Since 1905 it’s enabled city dwellers to escape from the German capital into the surrounding Schorfheide countryside to the north. However, efforts to resume the passenger service between Basdorf and Berlin-Gesundbrunnen, which was discontinued in 1983, have been drawn out over many years. On Dec. 14, 2020, a grant was due to be awarded that would make this rail link a vital part of a large-scale hydrogen project. According to the proposals, the trains would be powered by fuel cells using renewable energy supplied from regional sources and an electrolyzer would be acquired along with additional hydrogen vehicles. In spite of these preparations, the pandemic has, nevertheless, put the launch on hold.
E4tech Fuel Cell Industry Review
In March 2021, the new Fuel Cell Industry Review 2020 was published, complete with market data and detailed analysis. Since 2014, the team led by E4tech has been contacting fuel cell companies from across the globe, aggregating their shipment figures and producing an independent report each year on the current state of the fuel cell sector. Several extracts are provided here.
2020 was not the year many of us expected. But despite the very difficult situation brought about by COVID-19, fuel cell shipments continued to rise. The increase was much less than we anticipated at the end of 2019, both because of supply chain disruption and local economic slowdown, but is a very encouraging sign.
ArcelorMittal plans to scrap the use of coke in steelmaking
Steel group ArcelorMittal has plans to build a pilot plant in Hamburg that will use hydrogen in its ore reduction process to produce pure iron as part of a construction project that is due to get underway in the third quarter of this year. In future, some of the gas could be supplied by a new hydrogen network that is being set up especially for the industrial park at the port.
The fuel cell working group of Germany’s association for the mechanical and plant engineering industry VDMA has been bolstered by the appointment of Fabian Kapp. At the general meeting held online in February 2021, the Gräbener Maschinentechnik director was elected to the board and now sits alongside four fellow board members. Kapp explained: “The working … Read more
By the time of the next presidential election in 2022, France hopes to have regained the economic growth it last experienced in 2019. In order to stimulate the economy following the COVID-19 lockdown, the French government is rolling out a EUR 100 billion recovery program named France Relance. EUR 2 billion of the funds will be released over the next couple of years to support hydrogen projects. In total, the French government plans to channel EUR 7 billion of investment into this energy carrier in the runup to 2030. Meanwhile over the border, Germany has earmarked funds of EUR 9 billion to bolster its hydrogen sector. These financial stimulus packages and, moreover, the ambitions of these two countries to adopt a leadership stance in the future hydrogen economy, are also resulting in increasing efforts of French and German companies to work together.