A new alliance

Geitmann
S. Geitmann

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.

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Government agencies argue about who is in charge

Herdan
Herdan: “We will be forced toimport large quantities of the renewable energy we need.“

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.

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How to guarantee a renewable product

colour
Primary energy source determines the color assigned to hydrogen by CertifHy, © Hinicio

The CertifHy system for tracking the origin of green (renewable) and blue (low-carbon) hydrogen has moved past the pilot stage and can now be used throughout the EU to certify the gas and issue guarantees of origin.

The recent dynamism in the hydrogen market has led to discussions about the methods by which it is produced and the sustainability of different production pathways.

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Hydrogen pipeline network

Today, most stationary power systems run on natural gas. The idea of blending hydrogen into the gas pipeline network, however, has been under discussion for a while, and there have already been some tests conducted on its feasibility. Heating manufacturers have assured clients that current-generation systems can run on low-level 10 percent hydrogen blends and announced that the next generation could manage up to 30 percent. They said in the long term, it would also be possible to use hydrogen only. For example, Viessmann has announced that all of its new gas boilers would be “hydrogen-ready” starting in 2023 or 2024.

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New gas boilers run on hydrogen

Sunfire-Home
Sunfire-Home

German consumers in need of a new heating system have expressed growing interest in home fuel cells, an assessment shared by the public hydrogen and fuel cell agency. Although there are few systems on the market these days, and pretty expensive ones at that, their numbers are rising. As it looks now, the government will continue to fund the sector for a while. The following paragraphs offer a summary of what is currently available for sale.

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Stralsund has written H2 history

Prof. Jochen Lehmann with his first FC system from Warsitz, Sunnyvale, from 1994.
Prof. Jochen Lehmann with his first FC system from Warsitz from 1994.

It all started almost forty years ago. At that time his interest in energy brought him to hydrogen. Since then Prof. Jochen Lehmann, a veteran of the German H2 industry, has achieved a lot: He initiated the installation of the complex laboratory Alternative Energy at the University of Applied Sciences Stralsund with the world’s first hydrogen storage power plant, …

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Iceland: From pioneer to laggard

Borehole for geothermal energy in Iceland
Borehole for geothermal energy in Iceland, © ON Power, Iceland.

Iceland was quick to recognise the opportunities offered by hydrogen and fuel cells for the transport sector – but has unfortunately made little of them to date. At the end of the last millennium, the Nordic island was regarded as a pioneer in the field of hydrogen, because it considered the vision of a sustainable hydrogen economy to be quite feasible.

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New call for FC forklifts

BZ forklift fleet from Still near Carrefour in Vendin-Le-Vieil, France.
BZ forklift fleet from Still near Carrefour in Vendin-Le-Vieil, France, © Carrefour

For years there has been a discrepancy in the hydrogen sector between North America and Europe: Over on the other side of the Atlantic, fuel cell-powered industrial trucks are enjoying great popularity, while their number in Germany is more in keeping with homoeopathic doses.

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BDR wants to install 400 H2 boilers

 H2 boiler without CO2 from Remeha.
H2 boiler, © BDR Thermea

The BDR Thermea Group commissioned a hydrogen-powered boiler at the end of June 2019. The pilot plant, which was developed at the BDR-Thermea competence centre for research and development in Italy, is located in Rozenburg, the Netherlands, and is supplied with sustainably produced hydrogen by the regional gas network operator Stedin, who also initiated the project.

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