Heating system manufacturer Vaillant has – again – put its fuel cell business on hold. Management announced on March 14, 2017, during the ISH in Frankfurt, Germany, that it had “reduced development capacities in fuel cells [and] put the market introduction of the fuel cell heating system for single-family buildings on hold for the time being.” Instead, Carsten Voigtländer, CEO of the Vaillant Group, intends to put a greater focus on renewable energy and heat pumps. In his view, “there currently is no fuel cell heating system that would be economically feasible for owners of real estate.”
“Everything has progressed at a much faster pace than I expected,” Guido Gummert, formerly CEO of SOLIDpower, had told the Aachener Nachrichten in early 2017. What he meant was the rapid turnaround at Ceramic Fuel Cells after it filed for bankruptcy in March 2015. After SOLIDpower took over Ceramic Fuel Cells, business recovered fast, but now Gummert left the Italian-based manufacturer of stationary fuel cells at the end of February 2017 at his own request.
Anyone who already owns a fuel cell vehicle and needs to have it repaired now has someone to turn to: Car dealership Karl Russ has opened its own hydrogen garage in Germany. The Mercedes dealership in Nürtingen invested more than EUR 70,000 in equipment and monitoring technology to be able to make all necessary repairs on fuel cell vehicles while complying with German safety standards. The garage had already been inaugurated at the end of 2015. Managing partner Stefan Russ told the Nürtinger Zeitung: “Thanks to our customers, we can already service F-Cell vehicles according the manufacturer’s instructions. Our new repair shop has us well prepared for future car generations.”
Is that already the market for fuel cell heating systems which everyone has worked toward for so long? No, not quite, because the Technology Rollout Program (TEP) has not yet come into force. And as long as neither manufacturers nor customers have some kind of planning security, nothing will happen. That much became clear during the SHK Essen in Germany. But TEP could apparently become a reality this summer
In March 2015, the German Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) introduced a new funding regulation: “Fuel cells for highly efficient combined heat and power units”. These FC-CHP guidelines aim to ensure the smooth transition of fuel cell-based combined heat and power technology from the research and development stage (R&D) to commercialization over the short and medium term. On this basis, the BMVI awards investment grants to fuel cell CHP devices in single and multi-family dwellings as well as in industrial and commercial properties which have an electrical output of up to 20kW. Playing a leading role here are the