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Important strategic shift

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August 15, 2023

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Important strategic shift

Interview with Lorenz Jung, speaker for H2 Mobility Deutschland

For years, H2 Mobility has been working on the establishment and expansion of the infrastructure for hydrogen refueling stations. Despite the ambitiously set targets, the 100-station mark has still not been exceeded. Although more new H2 refueling stations are being built and opened, old ones are being dismantled at the same rate. Six and a half years after its founding, H2 Mobility Deutschland executed a change of leadership in April 2023: Nikolas Iwan, who alone has managed the company since the beginning, moved to the advisory board, where he is to take over as chairman in the course of the year. Iwan was replaced by a team of three managing directors. H2-international talked to CCO and spokesman Lorenz Jung about the reasons for this restructuring as well as the further goals of the company.

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H2-international: Congratulations, belatedly, on your promotion and your new position at H2 Mobility Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG. How does it feel to be up in front?

Jung: Very good! But you also notice very quickly that the wind blows a bit stronger there.

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You have been with H2 Mobility virtually since the founding and have worked your way up quickly. Initially, you were the team leader for the network construction, 2021 you were Chief Projects Officer (CPO) and 2022 Chief Commercial Officer (CCO). Now, you are also managing director and speaker for the company to the outside world. Did the appointment as managing director come as a surprise, or were you kind of working towards that?

The decision of Nikolas Iwan really surprised us. The management team – Frank Fronzke, Martin Jüngel and I – came quickly to the agreement, however, that we wanted to take over the management together.

Before your time at H2 Mobility, you worked at Siemens Energy and Linde. In what ways can you bring your experiences from then into your work today?

It helps me a lot, in fact, that I was able to gather a lot of previous experience and knowledge in plant engineering, in the gas industry, and in the power generation and power transmission sector. Because H2 Mobility at its core is not only about the transformation of transport; it is part of the greater energy transformation. So it helps to understand how large amounts of energy can be transported and stored, and what advantages and disadvantages molecules have over electrons.

You just mentioned that you share the management of the company: Frank Fronzke was at Praxair and has been Chief Operation Officer (COO) since 2016. Martin Jüngel changed over from Air Liquide to H2 Mobility as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in 2020. Neither of them has really made a public appearance so far. What else can you tell us about them both?

I am very happy and grateful to share the management with these two colleagues. Both are absolute professionals in their fields of expertise. The three of us are united above all by the desire to lead the topic of hydrogen in mobility to success with our business. Frank Fronzke, our COO, is a brilliant engineer. He with the operations team in recent years has managed to raise the availability and reliability of our hydrogen refueling station network to a very high level, despite a number of challenges. Thanks to the competition that is now emerging, it will soon be possible to properly appreciate it. Frank is distinguished by the fact that with a great deal of creativity, ambition and foresight, he finds a solution to every technical problem, no matter how complicated.

Martin Jüngel, as CFO, is the mastermind behind our figures. He is not only responsible for the company’s finances; he is also responsible for accounting, monitoring and IT, purchasing and public funding. Martin combines the bird’s eye view and the long view, and can impart these very well. With acumen and care, he thus clears all commercial hurdles out of the way.

What will your division of tasks look like?

In principle, everyone is retaining responsibility for their previous task area. Martin additionally is assuming the role of speaker to our shareholders. With a colorful and not so small circle of partners, a big task. Frank concentrates completely on the technical topics. That is why we have now also located the project handling under him. As spokesman for the management board, I take care of the representation of H2 Mobility to the world, and additionally am responsible for sales, customers, and product and project development as well as digital solutions and human resources.


Fronzke, Jung, Iwan, Jüngel (from left to right)

Can you tell us something about what role Nikolas Iwan will take on in the future? On his LinkedIn profile, it says “in transition.” It is already clear where he will switch?

For us, he remains as Chairman of the Board. But since he won’t officially begin that role until the summer, “in transition” is an appropriate designation.

Let’s move from the people over to the material: What is the current status of the development of an H2 refueling infrastructure in Germany?

As you can gather from the press, increasingly more companies are now entering the market. A very good sign. Until the first hydrogen fueling stations materialize from the announcements, however, – so are available for customers – requires time, as we know from experience.

Why has there been no progress in this for years now? As a three-man team, will you now pursue a different strategy than the last? If yes, which?

When judging by the number of units, this impression may arise. Actually, however, the conditions have changed. When H2 Mobility got started, we were preparing for an H2 passenger car market. The idea was to quickly build many, small stations. Now, the commercial vehicle market is developing much faster than expected. Larger vehicles with greater demand must now be supplied at fewer but more centralized and robust stations, in some cases using a different technology. Accordingly, we are not simply expanding the network further, but are upgrading where H2 commercial vehicles have been announced. Furthermore, our new stations, with a capacity up to 15 times greater, are a different dimension.

In February 2023, your press release stated that this change in managing director represented the completion of a fundamental realignment. This included, among other things, the addition of the eighth shareholder and partner in the meantime, Hy24. What did their entry mean for H2 Mobility?

The closing of the last financing round and the joining of Hy24 actually marks an important strategic shift: Our goal is to operate our network of hydrogen fueling stations economically and therefore sustainably. After the first few years, when the focus was primarily on proving the technical feasibility, this is a different direction. This also means that we are concentrating on high-volume commercial vehicle fueling stations with gaseous hydrogen. By the way: Hy24 is the first financial investor to invest only in H2 projects. And the fact that we were the first company to be selected in this is a big credit of trust. It also shows that hydrogen in mobility is an important component of the transport and energy transitions.

Were there any other restructuring measures?

Other than the ones mentioned above, no.

What do you see is the role of other players who are now also increasingly looking to install H2 refueling stations? Are you continuing with your collaborative approach until now or do you see GP Joule, Maximator, and so on, as competitors?

We are delighted that other companies are now risking the task. It shows that the market ramp-up is now beginning. Wherever possible, we like to work together with others. Competition additionally increases the number of offers to customers and gives us the chance to measure ourselves against the products of the competition. I am very excited about the first evaluations and the direct comparison.

Last question: How large is the share of green hydrogen at your fueling stations today and how do you plan to reach one hundred percent by 2028?

Let me first say that it is good and important that there is finally clarity on what is meant by green hydrogen with the passing of the corresponding EU delegated act. The proportion of green hydrogen still varies greatly depending on the sources in the vicinity of our hydrogen fueling stations. Until 2028 is no longer a lot of time. Many of the green hydrogen sources are just now getting established. With the demand we receive, we can be a support in this. It is therefore mutually beneficial to conclude offtake agreements with us. Since we aim to run our network exclusively on green hydrogen in the medium term, we’ve been working on this issue for some time now. We are talking to potential but also our existing suppliers, and are replacing old supply contracts, one at a time, with new ones. Here, the purchase price is – still – sometimes a major challenge. With the THG-Quote trading, however, the proper tool to lower H2 costs has been set.

Thank you very much for the interview.

Hy24

In March 2022, H2 Mobility Deutschland carried out a capital increase of 110 million euros, in which, in addition to the old industrial shareholders Air Liquide, Daimler Truck, Hyundai, Linde, OMV, Shell and TotalEnergies, Hy24 also participated. Hy24 is a 50/50 joint venture between Ardian, which is a world-leading private investment house, and FiveT Hydrogen, an investment platform for clean hydrogen. Together, they contributed 70 million euros to the capital increase. The money is to be used for the construction of new hydrogen stations. Target is 300 stations by 2030.

Hy24 acts as the fund manager for the Clean H2 Infra Fund, the – according to its own statement – world’s largest investment platform for clean hydrogen. This fund was established on the initiative of Air Liquide, TotalEnergies and VINCI Concessions as well as Plug Power, Chart Industries and Baker Hughes. Additionally participating are industrial anchor partners like LOTTE Chemical, Snam, Enagás and GRTgaz, and financial anchor investors such as AXA, CCR and JBIC, as well as other investors (Groupe ADP, Ballard, EDF, Schaeffler). The fund seeks a volume of 1.5 billion euros.

Pierre-Étienne Franc, CEO of Hy24 and Manager of Clean H2 Infra Fund S.L.P., said: “Hydrogen is a crucial part of the European Union’s ‘Fit for 55’ plans that were underlined again by the recent REPowerEU proposal. Our investment on the part of the pioneers also supports the European Commission’s efforts to implement the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) in order to significantly expand the European hydrogen refueling station network. This fits with our endeavor to act as a catalyst for a large-scale hydrogen economy – across the entire chain of systems and value creation, to reach a real change for our planet.”

Source: H2 Mobility Deutschland/Max Jackwerth

Kategorien: Germany | News
Geitmann | H2 Mobility :Schlagworte

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1 Comment

  1. Arno A. Evers

    It is extremely interesting to observe that you can stay afloat
    with such sayings over such a long period of time.
    And what happened to Motum and Sybille Riepe?

    Reply

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