There are two sides to every story. And that’s very much the case with the planned cooperation with General Motors, GM, and the cancellation of 2,500 battery electric refuse trucks for Republic Services which turned out to be rather fortuitous in retrospect. In the GM scenario, Nikola would itself have had to spend over USD 700 million on tools, among other things. The participation of GM with USD 2 billion as a “valuable consideration” would have resulted in a dilution of the number of issued stocks.
The company Weichai Power, which I’ve so far only mentioned in this column as partnering Ballard, has a revenue around the EUR 20 billion mark and a stock market valuation of the same order. In 2020, a good EUR 1 billion was marked up as profit, with dividends also paid out. Weichai Power has several bus brands to its name and is the nation’s largest diesel engine manufacturer; it has clearly recognized the potential offered by fuel cells in the commercial vehicle sector and, in its own words, is intent on becoming the market leader.
In my view, Plug Power [Nasdaq: PLUG] is definitely on the right track: Building and expanding liquid hydrogen production facilities while planning to acquire United Hydrogen. The latter’s 6.5-ton annual capacity should be raised to 10 tons, thus meeting 25 percent of Plug’s in-house demand, meaning eventually the profit margin can come from consumables. Plug is also negotiating with an electrolyzer manufacturer that could or should be absorbed. That all looks very good to me. In a few years’ time, Plug intends to cover more than 50 percent of its own production with green hydrogen.
Europe is leading the way in developing the breakthrough technologies needed to realise hydrogen’s energy potential. With hydrogen-powered buses and taxis being used across major cities, we have demonstrated that the technology can be used on a large scale.
This March, the German gas and water industries association DVGW published the findings of a study called “Hydrogen electric vehicles – trends and outlook,” which the organization had commissioned to evaluate the prospects for hydrogen in the transportation sector.
Two years ago, the interest of German truck manufacturers and freight forwarders in fuel cells was extremely low. It’s different today. Almost all logistics companies are now in some way concerned with the question of what fuel their vehicles will be powered by in the future.
While hydrogen in the maritime sector has only ever been treated as an option for the future under “far away” for years, not only the events at which this energy source is the subject of lively debate are currently on the increase, but also the reports on concrete projects.
In a joint action, various French stakeholders intend to launch a load tricycle with pedal support in the form of a fuel cell drive on the market in 2020. The bicycle manufacturer Cycleurope has teamed up with Bianchi and STOR-H Technologies for development.
The reports are overwhelming as far as the areas of application and potential of the fuel cell are concerned, and politicians in Germany have also finally woken up. The stock exchanges have led many FC companies into a real course euphoria. But also, contradictions find their way into the media, according to which China allegedly plans to reduce or even completely discontinue the promotion of battery-powered, but also fuel cell-powered electro-mobility. On the other hand, from a very well-informed source one hears exactly the opposite, namely that precisely the promotion of the fuel cell and the associated infrastructure in China is being set up anew, that only the battery promotion is being limited.
The new Fuel Cell Industry Review 2019 withmarket data and analyses was published in January 2020. Since 2014, E4tech’s team has been contacting fuel cell companies worldwide to build it, aggregating their supply figures and creating an independent annual reference point on the current state of the fuel cell industry. Some excerpts are presented below.