Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe, according to the current status, will take place May 30th to June 2nd in person on the Hannover Messe fairgrounds. There, industry representatives will be able to network in the dependable corporeal format again. That’s the assumption of Tobias Renz anyway, the organizer of this trade fair. The space booked for stands may be similar to the last time, in 2019, before the corona pandemic. Renz hopes to be able to present around 200 exhibitors once again.
The production of hydrogen is now recognized as an emerging market right around the globe. Many diverse electrolyzer manufacturers are experiencing unprecedented demand. A great many new players are jumping on the bandwagon and increasing numbers of conventional energy suppliers are pivoting from traditional power sources to renewable energies and embedding hydrogen in their portfolios. So what is the current situation vis-a-vis electrolyzers and what can we expect in the future? This article seeks to shine a light on these and other questions by providing a general – though not necessarily exhaustive – roundup of recent developments.
The company has now been in the fuel cell business for more than 40 years, with founder Geoffrey Ballard initially relying on lithium batteries before favouring fuel cells and moving the company in that direction. Technologically, the Canadians have always been at the forefront, optimising and positioning themselves and investing massively (over US$ 1 billion) in research and development. This will now pay off step by step.
Siemens Energy CEO Christian Bruch put it clearly in an interview to members of the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (DWV) a few months ago: The technology group wants to be a global player in the hydrogen sector – starting with electrolysis and ending with the use of hydrogen in various markets. The group is now being expanded in this direction, although in the short term the negative influence of the wind turbine subsidiary Gamesa (67 percent share, approx. 11 billion euros stock market value; that of Siemens Energy is only approx. 9 billion euros for 22 billion euros turnover) had a negative impact on their own balance sheet – a loss of minus 307 million euros.
First micromix gas turbines burn pure hydrogen
The Kawasaki M1A gas turbine is a milestone for the energy turnaround. It has been operating on a harbour island off Kobe since July 2020 and is the first gas turbine with complete, dry and low-nitrogen oxide hydrogen combustion, so-called dry-low NOX combustion. This is because H2 is extremely reactive, and it is precisely this that distinguishes the combustion of a hydrogen-natural gas mixture from that of pure natural gas.
Hydrogen-powered combustion engines seemed dead after BMW had stopped development work on H2 reciprocating piston engines years ago. This still applies to passenger cars, but not to commercial vehicles or stationary plants. In the sector of large combined heat and power plants, 2G Energy AG has long been working on making its gas engines compatible with hydrogen.
Hydrogen technology and steam turbines – this is the motto in Görlitz from now on. After the planned closure of the Siemens plant on the Polish border, announced two years ago, had caused a great deal of displeasure, the major corporation gave in and signed a declaration of intent in mid-July 2019 together with the Free State of Saxony and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in order to strengthen the location in the long term and support structural change in Lausitz.
As the then market leader, Ballard Power (Nasdaq: BLDP) determined soon after taking up its fuel cell activities that there was no way it could compete in the transportation sector. The upfront investment that such a move required was just too great. A decision was made to outsource these activities to AFCC, a Daimler-Ford joint venture
Now, there’s another installation to add to the growing list of hydrogen production systems: H2Future in Linz, Austria. Supported by the European commission, it is managed by a consortium aiming to produce “green” hydrogen in large quantities to bring the energy and industrial sector closer together.
The changes on the Hydrogen Europe board are not over yet. At the assembly in Brussels on Nov. 24, 2016, the association’s members elected Nils Aldag from sunfire as energy chair, Denis Thomas from Hydrogenics as membership and joint undertaking commitment chair and Werner Diwald from the DWV as association pillar chair. Aldag replaced Katharina Beumelburg from Siemens and Thomas succeeded Thomas Melczer, who used to work at Proton Motor