The German government’s central research organization for aerospace technology, DLR, continues to expand its operations. It plans to build two new institutes, one to develop maritime energy systems and another to advance systems engineering in the transportation sector. On June 23, DLR’s oversight board gave the green light for both. At that time, the German parliament had already approved the economy ministry’s November 2019 request for EUR 22 million annually to build and run the new research facilities. Another EUR 2 million a year will come from the German states of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein.
US manufacturer Nikola is the company currently making the most waves in the nascent hydrogen market, emerging as another success story similar to Tesla‘s. Its critics, however, consider the Phoenix-based would-be truck maker to be just as overrated as its competitor from Fremont, as it has yet to deliver on most of its promises.
Like Clean Logistics in northern Germany, Quantron, headquartered in Gersthofen near Augsburg in the south of the country, is planning to convert diesel trucks to run on fuel cells. Founded by Andreas Haller last summer, the business presented a fuel cell truck concept this June before revealing more details about the vehicle at a press conference and during a workshop in Frankfurt in early August. Haller not only managed to get multiple partners on board, but his new company has also been endorsed by climate change advocate Hannes Jaenicke.
In summer, the German government published its national hydrogen strategy, drafted with input from several federal ministries. An example of this intergovernmental collaboration was education minister Anja Karliczek’s idea for creating the post of Green Hydrogen Innovation Commissioner, to ensure that the strategy’s ambitious aims lead to swift action, her ministry said. H2-international spoke with Stefan Kaufmann, who was appointed to the post, about his new job and his concrete plans for the industry. A lawyer by trade, and a member of the Christian Democrats, he has been in parliament since 2009, representing voters in Stuttgart South.
To get eFarm underway, German transportation minister Andreas Scheuer and many of the project’s partners came to Bosbüll on July 7 despite dreary weather. “Germany’s largest hydrogen transportation project,” as GP Joule calls it, involves building two fueling stations, two fuel cell buses, seven tanks to deliver gas by truck, and five 225-kilowatt electrolyzers, each of which will be put up at a different site.
Hydrogen is considered crucial to transforming the energy market, especially in the northern parts of Germany and the Netherlands with their growing number of clean energy systems. On two North Sea islands, INTERREG project H2Watt is now investigating the opportunities that a hydrogen infrastructure can provide before it will put ideas into practice. Where will it be eco-friendly to switch to hydrogen? What is the best way to accomplish this? Representing a microcosm of a supply chain, both islands offer the perfect chance to study the real-world use of hydrogen. In late April, H2Watt was kicked off by a week-long virtual event showing video clips created by the project’s partners.
Sandwiched between the North and Baltic seas, Schleswig-Holstein is considered to have great potential for generating clean wind energy. Boasting an installed turbine capacity of around 6.7 gigawatts onshore and 1.8 gigawatts offshore, and a nearly 37 percent renewable energy share in total final consumption (122 percent in gross electricity use), Germany’s northernmost state is well above the national average. Its 2025 aim is to have renewables contribute up to 65 percent to state-wide energy generation. And by 2050, the North Sea and its coastal areas could be home to Europe’s largest clean energy system – ideal prospects for kicking off a real hydrogen economy.
A few years ago, research at Dresden-based Fraunhofer IFAM’s Hydrogen Technologies department led to the development of a paste-like substance that can provide on-demand energy under well-controllable conditions for multiple kinds of fuel cell applications. In partnership with businesses and other research institutes, IFAM has since launched several projects to demonstrate that this substance called PowerPaste, the main ingredient of which is magnesium hydride, is both safe and easy to handle. The institute is also currently building a system to produce multiple tons of PowerPaste a year for use in field tests.
How to use hydrogen, not oil, to power the economy
To achieve climate neutrality by 2050, Germany will need low-emission – if not zero-emission – solutions for transportation and industry. As part of a Kopernikus initiative called P2X, researchers are developing ways to safely store hydrogen in containers in atmospheric conditions. They use liquid organic hydrogen carriers, also known as LOHCs, which bind hydrogen reversibly and allow the subsequent separation of carrier material and gas through a special dehydrogenation unit. It is the only method for efficiently discharging this liquid storage. At the same time, however, the hydrogen needs to be upgraded to fuel cell quality.
Reducing global emissions by 7 percent
A new, revolutionary process developed by the Swedish steel industry could be a viable and competitive way to use hydrogen to displace coal and other fossil fuels in steelmaking. It would lower the carbon footprint of 1 ton of steel from 1.8 tons of CO2 to 25 kilograms.