In late May, transmission network operator Open Grid Europe (OGE) formed a joint venture with TÜV Süd and Horváth & Partners to “provide a path to a hydrogen economy.” During the startup online video call, the united front of chief executives confirmed their intention to explore new markets and bring their expert knowledge in hydrogen technology to industrial, logistics and transportation companies to allow them to draw on this valuable resource.
In Wesseling, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s coal heartland, a new transportation era is dawning – at least if oil giant Shell has a say in it. “Petroleum products will continue to play an important role in the decades to come.
Reducing environmental pollution is becoming ever more important. This is especially true now, seeing how pollution has worsened the impact of the recent Covid-19 virus outbreak. As a result, the search for alternative fuels is no longer just a building block for long-term climate action but vital to public health today.
You can feel it – the wave of optimism sweeping through the hydrogen and fuel cell industry. All the more disappointing that the German government is taking its own sweet time setting up market regulations. It is a murky green light. Sure, there have been plenty of speeches. Yet, there is a decided lack of enthusiastic momentum. Even then, as the national hydrogen strategy was announced in early June.
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.
On April 23, NOW’s supervisory board announced its new director in Berlin. Starting on May 15, Kurt-Christoph von Knobelsdorff, formerly a department head at Brandenburg’s economy and energy ministry, will lead the German national hydrogen and fuel cell organization.
Apex Energy Teterow CEO Mathias Hehmann has one vision: to turn his Rostock-based business into a one-stop hydrogen contractor. He intends Apex Energy to design, plan and install devices producing and storing hydrogen as well as run and maintain them over their lifetime.
Although the European Commission funded many hydrogen and fuel cell projects in the last several years, the industry sector was rarely mentioned in Brussels. That changed in 2019, when high-ranking German politicians started taking a second look at the technology.
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.