On March 19, German heating manufacturer Viessmann, based in Allendorf, announced it would shut down Hexis, its subsidiary in charge of developing SOFCs. The headline of the press release sounded rather innocuous: “Viessmann takes new path to implementing future-proof technology.“ However, in the third paragraph, the company then said it “will discontinue operations at Hexis.“
The United States Congress has restored the 30 percent investment tax credit for fuel cell power generation and forklifts, extending it through 2022, with a reduction in the final two years. The credit would be 26 percent in 2021 and 22 percent in 2022. This brings the fuel cell incentive in line with incentives for other advanced and renewable energy technologies.
Soon, Toyota may not only be known for its fuel cell cars and buses, but for trucks as well. A new initiative called Project Portal aims to build a 36-ton truck equipped with two fuel cell stacks originally designed for the Mirai. They will be supported by a 12-kilowatt-hour battery to provide 500 kilowatts of output and 1,800 Nm of torque at a range of 320 kilometers (199 miles).
This March, Shell presented a new study carried out in collaboration with the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. Focusing on transportation, the authors compared several different production pathways for hydrogen and took a closer look at the three regions spearheading global development: Germany, Japan and the United States. Jörg Adolf, who headed the project at Shell, said that hydrogen technology had made big advances over the past years, “not just in car use.”
A new megatrend needs time to develop. The last 15 years established the foundation for the coming breakthrough of fuel cells and a steadily growing interest in their use. Here’s why: Historically, technological revolutions often needed 15 years before a breakthrough was achieved. But once you’re past that point, everything goes very quickly, since no market actor wants to remain on the sidelines. This is exactly what’s happening to the fuel cell across all markets and applications.
Around 40% of the final energy in Germany is consumed by the building sector. About 85% of it is used for heating and hot water preparation. However, many heating boilers both in the private and public sector are outdated. Installing an efficient fuel cell heating system could save a great deal of energy and reduce CO2 emissions.
Japan’s federal R,D&D budget for the 2016 fiscal year, which starts April 1, 2016, is 37.1 billion yen (285 million Euro), according to a recent report from Technova, a Japanese advanced technology consultancy. The total includes continuing support for the successful Ene-Farm residential fuel cell program, which will support an estimated 50,000 residential installations this year.
Umicore and Solvay, the former mother companies of SolviCore, sold their joint venture in July 2015 to Toray Industries, a chemical company based in Japan. On Jan. 1, 2016, business management was handed over to Greenerity, a 100% subsidiary of Toray. SolviCore was founded in 2006 as a specialist for membrane-electrode assemblies (MEA). The headquarters in Hanau-Wolfgang is said to be kept, as is the entire staff.
Despite the fact that the envisioned number of 800 fuel cell heating systems was not even close to have been achieved, there was a lot of praise going around when the partners of the Callux project celebrated the completion of the Field Test of Residential Fuel Cells on Nov. 26, 2015. In the Erich Klausener Hall at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) in Berlin, Parliamentary State Secretary Norbert Barthle
Dear Reader, I would like to present you with some short number examples: The German Callux program installed 474 fuel-cell heating systems within eight years; the original target was 800. Japan currently has over 140,000 of these systems. The German 50 Filling Station program was supposed to set up 50 H2 filling stations until the end of 2015. In the end, there were only 19. Until the middle of 2016, another 23 are said to be added. Meanwhile, Japan has already had 80 of these stations in operation (On a side note, the CEP predecessor, the Verkehrswirtschaftliche Energiestrategie, had envisioned 2,000 public H2 filling stations until 2010).