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.
Ballard (Nasdaq: BLDP) had its very own October surprise, which caused the stock to take a nosedive. Though worse than expected, the USD 0.03 net loss per share and revenues of as little as USD 21.6 million weren’t to blame for the slump. Neither was the company’s low cash level of USD 23.2 million, reduced by inventory and AFCC asset purchases, nor the 2018 revenue target
Power purchase agreements are a central part of FuelCell Energy’s new corporate strategy. These agreements allow for long-term community purchases of electricity and energy. Not too long ago, the company concluded several contracts to that effect. One example is a 14.8-megawatt site in Derby, Connecticut. Meanwhile, it has been adding fuel cell power plants to its inventory as well, as it did last November
Hydrogenics (Nasdaq: HYGS) seems to be facing similar headwinds in China, mostly with regard to funding, bid requests and grant approval. It said the country offered excellent prospects; everything was just moving along a bit more slowly than expected. At the very least, backlog at Hydrogenics added up to USD 132 million, more than half of which originates with Alstom contracts for fuel cell trains. Thirty trains have already been ordered and more are said to follow this year.