Although the aviation industry was the starting point for hydrogen developments, commercial applications in that industry have been few and far between. 1783 marked the launch of the first hydrogen-filled hot-air balloon; later, hydrogen-powered airships crossed the Atlantic. But since the Hindenburg disaster in Lakehurst in 1937, the most lightweight element of all has fallen out of favor in every field except for the space industry.
The Paris Motor Show seemingly went all-out electric: There hadn’t been so many electric vehicles at one single trade show for a long time. From Oct. 1 to 16, 2016, Opel showcased its Ampera-e (500-kilometer or close to 311-mile range; priced at EUR 39,000), the “currently hottest rod from Germany,” as car blogger Fabian Messner put it. Renault showed the Zoe with a large 41 kWh battery. And VW announced a battery storage unit for its e-Golf with an increased capacity.
Despite the fuel cell industry’s recent growth spurt, the market still looks like a pyramid. At the top, you will find the stack and system manufacturers which offer commercial products and have a clear understanding of the costs involved and the wishes customers may have. These businesses are either driven by policy, as in Japan, or the forces of a free market, like FuelCell Energy. But of the worldwide more than 200 stack and system providers, fewer than 30 have made it this far.
Scientific studies have shown that if we want to succeed in transforming the energy market, our priority needs to be long-term storage solutions and an integration of relevant sectors. One technology with much promise for the future is Windgas. But although P2G remains crucial to Germany’s success in meeting the COP21 targets agreed to in Paris, the federal government all but ignores it. The most recent example of the lack of awareness among policy-makers is the 2017 amendment to the EEG, Germany’s renewable energy law, from which gas produced by wind and solar is virtually absent.
The UPS industry was supposed to be the fourth pillar of the German National Innovation Program Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP). Instead, the niche market considered to be an innovative force in the industry has yet to offer more than a glimpse into its possibilities. Industry network Clean Power Net (CPN) has tried to instill confidence by posting encouraging news articles
From June 13 to 16, the World Hydrogen Energy Conference (WHEC 2016) took place in Spanish Zaragoza. It was the twenty-first time that hydrogen experts from all around the globe met to discuss the potential of H2 and fuel cell technology as well as power-to-gas. In the words of Javier Brey, this year’s WHEC chair and head of the Spanish Hydrogen Association (AeH2), the conference was primarily about, “making people aware to the fact that others work on hydrogen strategies
In the future, high-temperature fuel cells should pave the way for new energy solutions in emerging countries. At least, this is the plan of several Indian investors who founded mPower in November 2015. Trusting in the SOFC know-how of Fraunhofer’s IKTS and the interconnects by Plansee, they want nothing less than to set out from Dresden and revolutionize the energy world.
During my research for the article on the second generation of Honda‘s fuel cell vehicle, the Clarity Fuel Cell (see Honda Hands Over Keys for First Clarity Fuel Cell), I suddenly remembered days long past. More specifically, I recalled news pieces that I had written or read many years ago. I did a bit of a search and found the following lines, which I would like to share with you:
“One must recognize the distinct accomplishment of the second-biggest Japanese carmaker, Honda, which – like archrival Toyota – succeeded before all automotive manufacturers in the Western world to supply customers with fuel cell cars.
People need to experience electric transportation on their own, something which is true for drivers of both battery and fuel cell cars. At least an adequate number of purely battery-driven vehicles have already made it onto the public roads in Germany. But how can people today gather their own personal experiences of driving fuel cell vehicles?
As predicted several times before, #dieselgate is the driver of upcoming changes at German carmaker Volkswagen. In March 2016, it was said that the Wolfsburg-based corporation would concentrate all fuel cell activities at its Audi subsidiary. This will necessitate a move of most of the fuel cell research, which has so far been conducted in the German city of Salzgitter. Stefan Knirsch, board member and head of development at Audi, told the magazine Automobilwoche: “This January, the task of corporate research on fuel cell engines was given to Audi.” And VW’s board of directors had supported the concentration of activities.