DWV becomes industry association

DVGW partnership with DVGW confirmed

Dr. Ulrich Schmidtchen und Eberhard Behrend
Despite years of tireless efforts on behalf of the association, Eberhard Behren and Ulrich Schmidtchen will no longer be members of the board.

For years now, the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, DWV, has been trying to find a new path forward. The association’s annual meeting in Hamburg, Germany, last September did nothing to remedy matters as members once more put off several decisions regarding its future. Finally, a well-organized online event held on Dec. 4 greased the wheels of reform, speeding the DWV on its way to becoming a powerful industry association.

The DWV meeting last fall will be remembered for its quarrels and surprisingly erratic agenda. Some members took the opportunity to air grievances about the DWV’s industry lobbyist aspirations and their discontent with how the board was handling things in general. Further issues involved bylaw validity and expense billing, all of which prevented a vote on indemnifying then-board members and electing a new board. It became more than evident that some issues would need to be addressed at a later date.

When talking with H2-international after the event, Gerald Linke, chairman of the German gas and water industries association DVGW, merely stated “there was a bit of turbulence concerning DWV-internal issues. […] I am confident we will soon come to a collective agreement on our cooperation’s substantive issues.”

Then came the extraordinary general assembly in December, held online. A first for the organization, it clearly illustrated DWV’s effort to solve the issues raised in September. Supported by a well thought-out program and perfectly prepared documents, DWV chairman Werner Diwald took charge of a meeting that was attended by nearly 100 members and lasted nearly six hours. While giving a rather absent-minded impression just a few months ago, even the (unavoidable) glitches didn’t throw him in December, and he kept a steady grip on proceedings throughout the votes and debates.

Although the latest gathering did not respond to all of September’s issues – simply because members failed to raise them – Diwald made sure everyone, including the executive committee candidates, could speak their minds while he himself offered as detailed an answer as possible to every question asked.

Intensified DWV-DVGW partnership

During the December assembly, Linke broke the news that, at a meeting the day before, the DVGW’s executive committee had voted unanimously to partner with the DWV. The collaboration is a financial boon to the DWV. The DVGW, on the other hand, will have access to the DWV’s highly sought-after hydrogen expertise.

Linke then laid out the DVGW’s plan for building an outstanding hydrogen center on behalf of Germany’s energy industry, adding the association is willing to invest around EUR 15 million to pursue an innovative strategy. His statements evidently appealed to many DWV members, as most attendees voiced their support for the partnership.

The overall goal, a close collaboration with the DVGW, will bring about organizational changes and a new budget, both of which were explained in great depth in December. Instead of volunteer board members, the DWV will now have two paid chairpersons and several employees working out of its own office, plus a voluntary executive committee.

Selecting board members falls to those on the newly minted executive committee, comprised of many association veterans as well as some fresh faces. Christopher Hebling, of Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems – ISE, garnered the most votes overall this time around and Silke Frank, of Mission Hydrogen, will become the second woman to serve on the board alongside Birgit Scheppat. Stefan Garche, who represents younger DWV members, didn’t make it, albeit he lost by only a few votes.

On Dec. 10, 2020, during the executive committee’s first session, members then selected Oliver Weinmann, of Vattenfall Europe Innovation, to be their president. Besides Frank and Hebling, he will be supported by Uwe Ringel, who will take on a deputy role on behalf of the DVGW. While Diwald was voted in as chairman at the meeting, it will be up to the DVGW to soon suggest a second chair.

“Together, we have laid the foundation to establish the DWV as the primary address for all hydrogen-related energy, transportation and industrial policies, developing a non-fossil fuel economy.”

Werner Diwald, DWV chair

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