One should never be too enthusiastic, but if the Chinese government really takes up the battle against the country’s dramatic pollution levels, fuel cells and hydrogen will become top priorities – domestically and globally. People will take note of the comments that Wan Gang, China’s minister of science and technology, made during this year’s industry conference H2Mobility in Berlin in early April. Gang – an engineer, who had a ten-year stint at Audi – considers the fuel cell‘s versatility and “green hydrogen” to be two key solutions for improving China’s environmental situation
Tesla CEO Elon Musk was as eloquent as ever when he raised the targets for the company’s electric car models: Instead of producing 500,000 electric cars (total figure, all models – i.e., Model S, Model X and Model 3) in 2020, the company should already achieve that number in 2018 and increase it to one million in 2020. One can question whether these targets will become reality, as they require even more large infusions of cash, making additional capital increases inevitable. And this although Tesla has just recently sought more money
While some talk about the bankruptcy of start-up eZelleron from Dresden, Germany, others only say that the headquarters were relocated to the US. How much truth is to these rumors? First, what is certain is that the delivery of fuel cell device kraftwerk will be late, as bankruptcy proceedings for eZelleron GmbH began on April 18, 2016, at the local court in Dresden.
In May 2016, the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH2 JU) got a new executive director. In the middle of that month, Bart Biebuyck took over the task from Bert de Colvenaer, who left in December 2015 – after which Philippe Vannson, the head of the Advanced Energy Systems unit of the European Commission, filled in the role temporarily. Biebuyck used to be Technical Senior Manager at the Fuel Cell Department of Toyota Motor Europe
The EU has decided to continue subsidizing fuel cell heating systems. The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) announced that on June 1, 2016, the European Union launched the PACE project (Pathway to a Competitive European FC mCHP market) with incentives worth EUR 34 million. Its aim is to have more than 2,650 micro-CHP systems installed at non-field test customers by February 2021 to support market ramp-up. At the same time, a monitoring project should provide the feedback needed to enhance any further developments.
There’s movement in the heating segment: Besides new entries trying to find their place on the market, efforts are well underway to ramp up the installation numbers of fuel cell heating systems in 2017. At present, however, the Technology Rollout Program (TEP) is still waiting for Brussels’ approval. To be prepared for the day the program comes into force, the Fuel Cell Initiative (IBZ) has reshuffled personnel and responsibilities.
Tobias Renz was able to celebrate a bit of a record this year: With overall 160 exhibitors from 25 countries, there have never been so many booths on the joint space of Hydrogen + Fuel Cells + Batteries organized by him. One of the reasons for this success may have been the many participants from the US, which alone had sent 21 industry representatives to the German trade show. America was this year’s partner country of the world’s biggest industrial exhibition.
The Car Summit that took place in the chancellor’s office resulted in the creation of the long-requested economic incentive for electric cars. In Berlin on April 26, 2016, Chancellor Angela Merkel came to an agreement with the heads of the automotive companies about an “incentive lite,” to which the industry had to contribute at least half of the funding. That didn’t stop other politicians and environmental organizations from criticizing the agreement.
Anyone who already owns a fuel cell vehicle and needs to have it repaired now has someone to turn to: Car dealership Karl Russ has opened its own hydrogen garage in Germany. The Mercedes dealership in Nürtingen invested more than EUR 70,000 in equipment and monitoring technology to be able to make all necessary repairs on fuel cell vehicles while complying with German safety standards. The garage had already been inaugurated at the end of 2015. Managing partner Stefan Russ told the Nürtinger Zeitung: “Thanks to our customers, we can already service F-Cell vehicles according the manufacturer’s instructions. Our new repair shop has us well prepared for future car generations.”
It smelled like burned rubber: no engines roaring, but wheels screeching. And after the group of vehicles disappeared behind the next turn, everything went quiet again until the regenerative electric engines and screeching slicks forebode the fast-approaching race cars once again. FIA’s eighth round of the Formula E Championship held on May 21, 2016 in Berlin was anything but boring.