From January 23 through 25, many high-profile figures visited Berlin for the Handelsblatt magazine’s Energy Summit. Among them was Peter Altmaier, who used the opportunity to deliver a speech detailing what role hydrogen technology could have in a future energy system.
Following a short-term dip, the stock of Canadian fuel cell manufacturer Ballard Power (Nasdaq: BLDP) went on to rebound in a big way, shooting up daily. A good sign. While the company didn’t ink any major deals, it signed several framework agreements and received multiple letters of intent. It also tried to branch out, getting in on projects such as H2Ports. As a global leader, Ballard will remain in the spotlight, in multiple markets, thanks to its highly advanced technology.
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.
The bloodletting among the executive ranks at Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) continues. The carmaker’s general counsel stepped down only two months after taking the position and its chief financial officer, who had already been in this role once before, years ago, resigned as well, this time after two years. This doesn’t bode well. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, at least managed to bring his billionaire friend and Oracle founder Larry Ellison on board. Ellison has bought Tesla shares worth over USD 1 billion, making him the automaker’s second-largest private shareholder, after Musk.
On February 22, Plug Power (Nasdaq: PLUG) celebrated the Grand Opening of a new factory in Rochester in the United States. Reportedly, the site will create more than 180 jobs and produce as many as 400,000 membrane electrode assemblies, compared to a company-wide production of 10,000 in 2018. The big increase in capacity is thought to be achieved by using a technology that the manufacturer obtained by buying American Fuel Cell. Additionally, tests of courier vans have created high expectations.
After a sharp decline, with high volumes being traded at prices as low as USD 0.40, the tide suddenly turned for FuelCell Energy (Nasdaq: FCEL). While trade volume increased even more, to 17.5 million shares, the price shot to USD 0.90 within a few days. Then, the tide turned again, and the shares fell to a new low. It’s almost as if the stock is part of a high-stakes gambling game. Who is in the know?
Bloom Energy (Nasdaq: BE), a manufacturer of fuel cell systems, is a new one for me to discuss on these pages. The company went public in July 2018, and after issuing shares at a price of USD 25 each, it went on to reach a market cap of above USD 3 billion, though it is valued at less than half of its IPO price today. It posted revenues of USD 742 million for 2018 and expects a steady 20 percent growth per year in the near-term future.
At the FC Expo in Tokyo in late February, Hydrogentle, based in Hamburg, said it would collaborate with other stakeholders in the industry to install a countrywide network of hydrogen fueling stations in Germany to offer drivers a wide range of places to fill up their commercial vehicles. To this end, it signed an agreement with an unnamed partner company about adding hydrogen pumps to truck stops alongside German autobahns. In all, 30 stops are expected to be put up in nearby industrial areas, although the number could ultimately rise to 52.
Hydrogen is an oft-discussed topic in and around Hamburg these days: In summer last year, the city became the birthplace of the Hydrogen Industry Network in Northern Germany. In November 2018, it was where the economy and transportation ministers of the German states on the coastline met for a conference on a joint hydrogen strategy for the region. H2-international talked to Heinrich Klingenberg, the network’s spokesman and chief executive of hySolutions, about the organization’s plans and the future role of the city.
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.