Commonly known is the ever-increasing need to transport energy from north to south within Germany. The rapidly expanding renewable energy generation capacities from wind in the North Sea and the onshoring of liquefied natural gas (LNG) or hydrogen at German seaports – whether as an international import or generated offshore – are further increasing this need.
While German economy minister Robert Habeck is busy visiting Qatar and Norway in a bid to ease Germany’s dependence on Russian energy supplies, representatives from the Italian government are heading for Algeria, Angola and the Republic of Congo. The German administration, it would seem, still continues to undervalue Africa, both as a potential supplier of natural gas and a partner for new hydrogen projects.
Currently they run on heavy fuel oil – a substance that is more reminiscent of tar than vehicle fuel. It’s the residue that remains after various crude oil distillation processes have been carried out. While the more volatile fractions such as ke
rosene, gasoline, diesel and household fuel oil are separated off for other uses, the large, robust two-stroke engines of ocean-going giants make do with the leftover black sludge which is so viscous it needs to be heated up before it can be combusted. The changeover to fuels like liquefied natural gas, LNG, has already begun but this in itself won’t be enough. That’s why an increasing number of industry players are looking to hydrogen and are now making initial attempts to embed this fueling option in seagoing vessels.
The search for alternatives to Russian natural gas is in full swing. Even before the march into Ukraine, some stakeholders had been advocating the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the USA – as an alternative to Nord Stream 2. However, since the US exports gas obtained by fracking, which does not have a positive image in Germany, the German government is currently also trying to reach out to other source countries, for example in the Middle East, particular Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Rotterdam is not only the largest port in Europe, it is playing a key role in the German hydrogen strategy. Stijn van Els has been working since January 2020 as director of commercial delivery at the port, which belongs 70 percent to the municipality of Rotterdam and 30 percent to the Netherlands. After studying at a German Hochschule, van Els studied physics in Delft and then started as an engineer at Shell. He’s been working around the world for 30 -years and in Hamburg as head of Shell Germany. H2-international spoke with him about the role of the port for the European hydrogen economy.
What a roller-coaster ride: from US$ 5 at the low in 2020 to over US$ 44 at the beginning of 2021 and now at US$ 22. I did not expect such a sharp decline, but the upward exaggeration has now been followed by a downward one, which may have been helped along by the fact that around 18.4 million shares were sold short (July 2021).
Investment bank J. P. Morgan’s analyst meeting with KR Sridhar, Bloom Energy’s chief executive, on May 26 revealed bright prospects for the company. When one analyst asked by how much Bloom wants to grow in the near future – if it aims for a rate of 20 percent to 25 percent annually – Sridhar replied the target is rather 30 percent a year over a long period of time. He based his assessment on an analysis of the company’s advanced technology, IP portfolio, markets and applications, as well as its competitive position, expertise and experience.
Two years ago, the interest of German truck manufacturers and freight forwarders in fuel cells was extremely low. It’s different today. Almost all logistics companies are now in some way concerned with the question of what fuel their vehicles will be powered by in the future.
While hydrogen in the maritime sector has only ever been treated as an option for the future under “far away” for years, not only the events at which this energy source is the subject of lively debate are currently on the increase, but also the reports on concrete projects. More and more shipping companies are turning to hydrogen because the pressure to say goodbye to fossil solutions is growing from all sides.
The transportation sector is moving forward again: After a years-long debate and much reporting about fuel cell use in passenger cars, a breath of new life has been given to maritime, railroad and aviation applications. Especially many of the stakeholders in the maritime industry see great market potential for fuel cell units, as environmental regulations are gradually putting pressure on the oft-used diesel technology.