The German state of Saxony is slowly turning into a hub for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. On Nov. 29, 2018, around 160 people headed to Fraunhofer IWU in Chemnitz to attend the HZwo Technology Forum, at which Martin Dulig, Saxony’s economy and transportation minister, started up a new system manufactured by Fuel Cell Powertrain.
Environmentalists have had the maritime sector in their sights for some time. Cruise liners in particular emit large amounts of pollutants on route to the world’s natural – sometimes seemingly untouched – landscapes, or their diesel generators are running to power onboard systems while they are docked. However, now that shipping companies are switching to LNG, the market could see a change for the better. Fuel cells, too, could soon play an important part in the design of cleaner marine propulsion.
One thing that became apparent at the IAA Commercial Vehicles 2018 was that the issue of hydrogen tank approval had yet to be resolved. Though it had already been said years ago that tanks “must only get approved,” the process is taking much longer than expected. At present, there are few 700-bar type IV units for sale in Germany.
At least once a year, the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, better known as the DWV, organizes a so-called parliamentary evening in Berlin. Last year, on Nov. 8, 2018, the event took place in the Embassy of the Czech Republic. A roll call vote prevented most members of the German Bundestag from attending. Still, what Oliver Wittke, who works at the German economy ministry, had to say that evening about “Changes to the Energy System – Is Green Hydrogen the Solution?” did catch the attention of the industry representatives who had gathered at the meeting.
Eleven founding members set up H2BX – Hydrogen for Bremerhaven Region as recently as two years ago. At the first meeting, the number had already climbed to 25, while there were more than 60 last November. The subsequent information event on “Hydrogen Technology in Practice – Prospects for Bremerhaven” attracted more than 150 attendees.
Hydrogen has finally entered the halls of power: Last September, the gas, as well as storage, was a key topic at the meeting of the EU countries’ energy ministers in Linz. Austria, which, at the time, held the presidency of the EU Council, had put the creation of a Hydrogen Initiative on the agenda, inviting all ministers to sign a joint statement called the Hydrogen Declaration. Thomas Bareiß, who works at the German economy-slash-energy ministry and attended the meeting on behalf of his government, put his signature on the document as well.
In 2013, France’s government began cooperating with the national Afhypac association on holding Journées Hydrogène dans les Territoires, that is, Hydrogen Days in the Regions, each year in another one of them. Last September, it was Occitanie’s turn to invite people to Toulouse.
Manufacturers of gasoline and, especially, diesel vehicles are under growing pressure to come up with new options. At the latest since the German transportation minister, Andreas Scheuer, stated in mid-September 2018 that software updates alone would not be enough to fix diesel emissions, the benefits of diesel models have been declining by the hour. Meanwhile, politicians in many regions of the world have been crafting new legislation to bring the era of combustion engines to an end.
Today, few car dealers can give consumers comprehensive answers about electric vehicles. Regardless of the model, an EV is still a curiosity in most showrooms. Either there is none on display or a single one is standing in a faraway corner. On top of this, fuel cell cars are mostly unavailable simply because there are not enough being produced. One exception to common experience is Autohaus Päsler, a dealership located in Hamburg, Germany, where highly competent staff members offer advice on both battery and fuel cell vehicles.
The German transportation minister, Andreas Scheuer, was not among those who took a trip to Potsdam, in the state of Brandenburg, to see the opening of the country’s 50th hydrogen fueling station on Sept. 7, 2018. His absence, however, did little to stop those who came from celebrating this particular milestone. The event attracted over 120 people, including Kathrin Schneider, the state minister for infrastructure, and Jann Jakobs, the then-mayor of Potsdam.