The debate about the future use of hydrogen is in full swing. At the moment, many different opinions are clashing; after all, the energy industry is also about re-sorting the balance of power. Sometimes, however, it is almost frightening to observe the fierce battles that are being fought, especially in the social media.
The first impression immediately conveys that this Mirai is no ordinary Toyota. Its design is much more pleasing to European tastes than that of its predecessor – and it is bigger, fancier, and more refined than the Mirai 1. This impression is underlined by the statement of the director of the Berlin representative office of Toyota Motor Europe, Ferry Franz, that this model was actually supposed to be a Lexus.
The time has come for new collaborations in the hydrogen sector. As noted in this year’s May issue, the number of reports about company mergers and new partnerships has increased steadily over the past months. One example of this is the partnership formed by electrolyzer manufacturer Nel after its recent foray into the solar market. In early May, the group announced that one of its subsidiaries, Nel Hydrogen Electrolyser, is now working with First Solar, a manufacturer of PV modules, to design integrated solar-hydrogen power plants.
A short time later, news broke that Danish hydrogen business Everfuel and Norwegian aluminum maker Norsk Hydro signed a memorandum of understanding to improve conditions for electrolyzers in Europe. The agreement contemplates installing the Hydrogen Distribution Centers that are being developed by Everfuel at electrolyzer sites near Norsk Hydro’s aluminum smelters to ensure the fast and safe refueling of the latter company’s hydrogen trailers.
E4tech Fuel Cell Industry Review
In March 2021, the new Fuel Cell Industry Review 2020 was published, complete with market data and detailed analysis. Since 2014, the team led by E4tech has been contacting fuel cell companies from across the globe, aggregating their shipment figures and producing an independent report each year on the current state of the fuel cell sector. Several extracts are provided here.
2020 was not the year many of us expected. But despite the very difficult situation brought about by COVID-19, fuel cell shipments continued to rise. The increase was much less than we anticipated at the end of 2019, both because of supply chain disruption and local economic slowdown, but is a very encouraging sign.
The company Weichai Power, which I’ve so far only mentioned in this column as partnering Ballard, has a revenue around the EUR 20 billion mark and a stock market valuation of the same order. In 2020, a good EUR 1 billion was marked up as profit, with dividends also paid out. Weichai Power has several bus brands to its name and is the nation’s largest diesel engine manufacturer; it has clearly recognized the potential offered by fuel cells in the commercial vehicle sector and, in its own words, is intent on becoming the market leader.
Fuel cell stack monitoring
A fuel cell stack is a living organism and individual cell voltages report its vital signs. Which is why fuel cell vehicles are usually equipped with a monitoring system promptly drawing attention to critical operating conditions and enabling immediate response. It is absolutely necessary to reduce system costs before mass production can begin. Automated installations is a good place to start.
At the annual meeting of the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) at the end of 2019, a new management trio came together. Jörg Starr of Audi, who was recently elected Chairman of the Board, was joined by two Co-Chairs: Stefanie Beck from Toyota and André Steinau from GP Joule.
FuelCell Energy’s shares have experienced a sharp drop for seemingly no reason. It may have been a tactic intended to push down the price, for example, to profit via short sale in anticipation of the fall and convert warrants later. That is pure speculation, of course, but people say these things have happened before. In any case, the most recent investment decisions seem to be an unmistakable sign that institutional investors believe in the company’s prospects and its technology.
“Fuel cell cars are too expensive – and there’s no refueling infrastructure either.” You may hear a sentence like this one many times over. Both German-language magazine HZwei and English-language e-journal H2-international have reported regularly about new hydrogen filling stations (e.g., October 2017 issue of H2-international). So, let’s look at the price, which might be much lower than many Germans believe. If you factor in available incentives, an FCV such as the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell would cost only around EUR 42,000
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).