A positive result in a community poll has apparently cleared the way for cellcentric to press ahead with its plans to mass-produce fuel cells in the German town of Weilheim an der Teck. Cellcentric – a 50-50 joint venture by Daimler Truck and Volvo – is expected to start building its new factory in the course of the year. Preparations for the highly automated manufacturing facility have “already come a very long way,” H2-international was informed.
According to European Union guidelines, carbon dioxide emissions from heavy-duty vehicles will need to be cut by 30 percent by the year 2030 in order to ensure emissions reductions are on track to meet the EU’s 2050 net-zero target. This would mean that around 200,000 emission-free trucks would have to be operating on Europe’s roads by 2030. That’s the finding of a recent study carried out by the association of German engineers VDI and the testing and certification institute VDE entitled “Sustainable commercial vehicles – a comparison of different technology pathways for carbon-neutral and carbon-free propulsion.” It found marked advantages for the use of fuel cell power systems for long-distance transportation using large commercial vehicles while battery-electric powertrains were seen as clearly beneficial for small commercial vehicles.
Nikola Motors needs to be understood/categorized as a start-up in the process of implementing its business plan. The construction of its factory in Coolidge, Arizona is underway, and the first battery–electric trucks (BEV trucks) are already with customers. This year should see 300 to 500 of these, along with sufficient capacity for 2,400, which should reach 20,000 by 2023. In Ulm, Baden-Württemberg, the number of units produced by partner Iveco is to increase from 2,000 to 10,000.
National Platform Future of Mobility reveals its position paper
The chances of fuel cell technology making a breakthrough in mobility applications are looking good. Various developments are helping the rollout, expansion and deployment of fuel cell technologies in many different areas of the transportation sector. These include the technological maturity of the automotive industry, potential synergies in connection with other hydrogen applications and sectors, considerable changes to the regulatory framework and new political ambitions, as articulated in Germany’s national hydrogen strategy. But how is the German and European vehicle manufacturing industry poised when it comes to fuel cells?
As previously announced (see H2-international, August 2020), Daimler Truck and the Volvo Group have embarked upon a joint venture in which each company holds a 50 percent ownership stake. At the beginning of March 2021, the two organizations announced that the company formerly trading as Daimler Truck Fuel Cell GmbH & Co. KG had been renamed cellcentric GmbH & Co. KG.
FuelCell Energy’s quarterly results weren’t the reason for the year-end price surge from around USD 2 to over USD 11. At times, more than 200 million trades were concluded in one day, which exceeds the total shares outstanding. I believe we’re witnessing the impact of high-frequency or day trades or swarm-like investor activity via, e.g., Robinhood. Right before the rally, Heights Capital Management reported the purchase of 19 million FuelCell shares, giving the private equity firm a 6.7 percent stake in the fuel cell business.
Thinking sustainably about energy and agriculture
What a year we’ve had. Rarely has so much, in such a short time, changed in the energy sector, particularly for the hydrogen industry. For starters, we have witnessed the arrival of a national hydrogen strategy, council and office, a European Green Deal, a European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, RED II and the IPCEI Hydrogen, as well as revisions to the German EEG.
VDMA study analyzes fuel cell vehicle market
Starting in 2030, fuel cells will be making significant inroads in the passenger car, commercial vehicle and heavy equipment markets. Their importance, as well as the required hydrogen infrastructure, will grow steadily in the coming years, mainly thanks to heavy-duty applications. By 2040, the technology will power 12 percent of all vehicles sold in those markets, creating 68,000 new jobs in Europe in the process. These are the key takeaways from “Engine of change – Fuel cells’ impact on the machinery and industrial equipment industry and its suppliers,” a study conducted by FEV Consulting for Germany’s national engineering federation VDMA. Unlike battery-electric motors, fuel cells have quite a lot in common with internal combustion engines when it comes to production and supply chains, a boon to traditional automakers and machinery manufacturers.
Like other industries, the energy sector has seen events being postponed or cancelled, making it difficult if not impossible to unveil new products, attend discussion panels and meet new people. But the partial lockdown has also opened up some new opportunities. Thanks to greater digitalization, online product presentations can still reach a global audience, face-to-face meetings are being replaced with webinars and video conferences, and phone calls have become an even more important means to stay in touch. Additionally, fewer commutes and business trips leave more time for other things and help reduce environmentally harmful emissions.
Who can make the most of hydrogen and fuel cells? This question seems to have sparked a fierce competition between several German government ministries since late 2019 as they are vying with each other for control over the debate. Their tug-of-war began spreading through the political landscape when hydrogen became an issue to campaign on early this year, prior to the Hamburg state elections. Although the Christian Democrats were the ones who actively promoted the technology for a while, public opinion seems to have shifted in favor of what the Social Democrats are planning to do with it.