New management, new direction

DWV board
DWV’s board members

The quiet life is over. That much is clear, even to the German hydrogen and fuel cell association DWV. Growing interest in hydrogen and fuel cells has some wanting to turn the organization into a powerful industrial body.

Others remain focused on sustainable, distributed energy generation. The non-profit is facing a crucial test of its ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Should it keep developing into a lobbying organization and speak for only its industrial members? Or will it remain true to its founders‘ vision of a clean energy system running on hydrogen?

We have seen this all before, in the solar and wind power industries. Near the end of the 20th century, the few idealists promoting the nascent clean energy sector were often dismissed as eccentrics, that is, until a growing number of people followed their example when they saw that there was money to be made. Only a handful of visionaries held on to their jobs through every up and down in the market. Many did not. The economic pressure they were under was simply too great. They were replaced by managers who knew little about the technology but were experts in navigating the market and more experienced in selling to customers.

The same is currently happening in the hydrogen and fuel cell industry. More and more business graduates are taking over the jobs of inventors or company founders, aiming to commercialize the technology. This is not a bad thing per se, since inventors are very rarely good at marketing themselves and their products. And yet, there is a good chance these changes in management will upend long-held goals and values.

By now you may be wondering what all of this has to do with the DWV.

On Sept. 10, the association will hold its annual general meeting in Hamburg to vote on a new board. Members will also have to decide which organizational structure and executive team is the best fit for the DWV. Will there be a closer partnership with gas and water industries association DVGW? Will they perhaps join forces under one roof? Or will the DWV try to go it alone most of the time?

read more in H2-international October 2020

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