It’s been a long time since things were moving forward at the pace they have been in recent months. And it has been just as long since the mood was that optimistic in the energy sector. Wherever you look, you feel as if a new chapter has begun. It certainly feels a lot different than past times of doom and gloom in the fuel cell and hydrogen industry.
January saw the publication of the Fuel Cell Industry Review 2018, including market figures and analyses. The review was created by the team of E4tech, which has contacted fuel cell companies once a year since 2014 to provide an independent overview of the fuel cell market based on aggregated shipment numbers. Below are some excerpts from its report.
In 2018, fuel cell system sales continued to grow. In all, companies shipped 74,000 systems, around 4,000 more than in 2017.
The MethQuest project investigates the creation of methane from renewable sources of energy and its use in stationary systems and vehicles by studying the entire value chain of the gas. This holistic approach promises technological advances in areas that range from production and methods such as electrolysis to the required infrastructure and end use of the gas.
Efforts to transform the energy sector have so far focused on increasing renewable generation capacity to lay the foundation for a future energy system. This has made the use of electricity in the heat and transportation markets all the more important, since electric power is an efficient means of generating and using renewable sources of energy.
With the recent IPCC report outlining the measures required to keep warming to below 1.5°C, implementing low-cost, low-carbon energy alternatives is more important than ever. With this momentum comes the need for experts to carry out strong, impactful programs to demonstrate new electrochemical technologies to the public.
For me, the new year started off with a bang: While hydrogen and fuel cells had rarely been discussed at the many energy conferences held in past years, power-to-gas, electrolyzers and fuel cells are quickly seizing the spotlight these days. It’s very good news for technology suppliers listed on the stock exchange, especially for those mentioned below. The market has finally built enough momentum, and the public is taking note. Also, Tesla’s position as the leader of the field took a bit of a hit in 2018: Competition grew fiercer, with more and more businesses offering electric or hybrid models.
On March 5, at the Geneva International Motor Show, Roland Gumpert showed attendees his Nathalie Race, an electric sportscar named after his daughter. The distinctive feature of the coupe, unveiled in spring 2018, is the engine under the hood: Gumpert, who designed Audi Quattro’s four-wheel drive, said it had been important to him “to build an electric car that doesn’t grind to a halt because the battery is drained but generates electricity during the ride. To achieve this, we used a fuel cell that produces hydrogen from a methanol-water blend.” The fuel cell was made by Serenergy, based in Denmark.
Hans-Olof Nilsson from Sweden is an electrical engineer who used to work in the refrigeration and telecoms industries and now co-manages a clean energy consulting firm focusing on off-grid solar power and hydrogen storage solutions. A few years back, he decided to go off-grid, by storing solar energy in summer as hydrogen to keep warm in the cold Swedish winter. One day, he invited me to visit his house, which has more than 5,380 square feet (over 500 square meters) of space and is just 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) away from Gothenburg.
In January, Eui-sun Chung, the executive vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Company, was named co-chair of the Hydrogen Council. He now heads the organization together with Benoît Potier, Air Liquide’s chief executive and chairman of the council since its founding in 2017. Both stressed the import of creating a zero-carbon hydrogen society.