If there were to be a widespread switchover to e-fuels for transportation we would be shooting ourselves in the foot in environmental terms. The more we rely on e-fuels, the more impossible it will be for us to turn around the world’s energy system before it’s too late. The internal combustion engine isn’t getting any greener and a fundamental rethink of mobility is absolutely essential.
Never before has there been so much talk about hydrogen. And, accordingly, many questions. In order to be able to answer at least some of these questions, the German government has now established a Lotsenstelle Wasserstoff (hydrogen navigation post) to inform inquirers particularly about the support offers of the federal government.
The joint venture between ElringKlinger and Plastic Omnium has built up a production capacity of 10,000 stack units per year at the Dettingen site. According to chief finance officer Dr. Gernot Stellberger, the fuel cell manufacturer from Baden-Württemberg has a lead of about two years over the competition in the area of industrial stack design. The company is aiming for a sales revenue of up to one billion euros by the end of the decade. In addition to the commercial vehicle sector, there is great interest from the maritime and rail industry. In the joint venture Aerostack with Airbus, EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies GmbH is developing a stack for use in aviation.
The trend is clear: refineries also need to become greener – recently also to limit the use of Russian oil and gas. In Germany, refineries are responsible for about a fifth of the CO2 emissions by the sector. Green hydrogen can be integrated into existing production processes. Several refineries are currently making this transition.
The realization that we need a lot of green hydrogen very quickly, not only in Germany and Europe, but also worldwide, is becoming more and more widespread. Germany has already made the decision to phase out nuclear energy and coal. And after Putin’s attack on Ukraine, natural gas is also under examination. The plan was to make the gas grid greener and greener. Now, there is discussion about a much faster ramp-up of the hydrogen economy. Which scenarios are conceivable for this?
Hydrogen is now also making its presence felt in cultural quarters thanks to two associations based in Hamburg, Germany: The hydrogen society Wasserstoff-Gesellschaft Hamburg has organized a hydrogen-themed poster competition in partnership with the Kulturaustausch Hamburg-Übersee, an arts charity with its own gallery and publishing house. The 19th edition of the poster contest, which always has a contemporary theme, had previously been delayed by the pandemic. As a result, the exhibition opened on Oct. 30, 2021, and the award ceremony finally took place at the end of February 2022.
The German-American talks regarding a possible activation of Nord Stream 2 also specifically addressed Germany’s involvement in Ukraine. Ukraine, which fears economic disadvantages as a result of Nord Stream 2, is to receive support from the Federal Republic of Germany in the further development of its energy supply system. Or that was the plan, before Putin’s attack of the country. Due to the current war, it is completely open what the future will look like in Eastern Europe, including what the energy supply situation will be. In order to show what opportunities could arise after the, hopefully near, end of this invasion, we describe here the initial situation, as it still looked at the end of 2021.
All eyes will be on Rotterdam in March 2022 when the city will host its first-ever global hydrogen summit and exhibition. The Dutch region, which is home to Europe’s largest port, has its sights set on becoming a hydrogen hub, at least that is the intention set out in the country’s energy strategy. The Dutch government sees the international trade in hydrogen gas as a great opportunity – assuming that a pan-European pipeline project doesn’t get in the way.
The enormous interest in hydrogen and fuel cell technology has brought a lot of attention to the publicly listed companies in this field. Fuel cell producers like Bloom Energy, however, are finding it difficult to benefit to a comparable extent from the upswing in the H2 sector because their plants are still dependent on fossil gases for the time being. H2-international talked to the head of business development at Bloom Energy Germany, Dr. Stephan Reimelt, about some challenges involved in supplying decentralized energy through fuel cell plants.
In 2020 there was much talk of low-cost green hydrogen being readily imported from Morocco. Mooted in the country’s favor were its copious supply of solar energy, its connectivity to Europe via Gibraltar as well as its relative political stability. As of summer 2021 that has not been entirely the case. The sun is still shining but diplomatic relations have become frosty.