Rotterdam establishes itself as an H2 hub

Rotterdam establishes itself as an H2 hub

Impressive size and professionalism

A completely different league to Hannover Messe or Hy-Fcell in Stuttgart: The World Hydrogen Summit & Exhibition in Rotterdam showed from May 13 to 15, 2024 where the H2 event sector can go. Similarly to the Hydrogen Technology Conference & Expo in Bremen, the organizers staged a large, professional industry gathering, which most participants were impressed by, if not enthusiastic about, which makes you wonder why the fair only lasted two days.

On both days, the floor of the Ahoy Arena was not only bustling with activity, but downright alive and lively – everything was bursting with energy. Full aisles, intensive exchanges and a loud babble of voices – not only at the evening stand parties. A completely different dimension than at most events so far, especially German ones. Even long-time trade fair visitors were impressed by what the organizers described as the “world’s largest” exhibition focusing on hydrogen.

Notable was the number of domestic exhibitors as well as the sometimes very large number of country representatives (20 in total), not least thanks to the support of the Dutch government as co-organizer of the event. Australia, Andalusia, Canada, Chile, Finland, India, Japan, Korea, Morocco, Namibia, Norway, Oman, South Africa and Uruguay, for example, all had their own stands. The VDMA (German association of mechanical engineers) had its own joint PtX stand, and a number of German companies were also present, albeit often with their Dutch representatives.

at the fair with participants from Australia and all over the world.

Among the exhibitors was also Hilux, a Toyota subsidiary, which presented a converted pick-up truck. The prototype, of which a total of ten units have now been built, has a fuel cell system from the Mirai 2 instead of the diesel unit as well as three H2 pressurized gas tanks, which are installed underfloor behind the driver’s seat, while the battery is located on the passenger side. Currently, the vehicles are being tested by customers and it is not unlikely that this model will actually be ready for series production.

Among the trade fair visitors was also the Dutch energy minister Rob Jetten (left), here at the Norway stand in conversation with Maurice Adriaensen, director at DNV Energy Systems

The Hydrogen Transport Award of the SEC (Sustainable Energy Council) was won this year by the Australian company Fortescue with its ammonia-powered ship. Green Pioneer is considered the first ship of its kind to be certified to use ammonia in combination with diesel as a marine fuel. Mark Hutchinson, CEO of Fortescue Energy, said: “Green Pioneer is a testament to our delivery capability and commitment and shows the future of green ammonia as a marine fuel. But our work doesn’t stop here. We are now calling on regulators, ports and institutions to join us in accelerating the adoption of ammonia as a marine fuel. Let us create green maritime hubs and corridors together and usher in a new era of sustainable shipping.”

Emma White, head of marketing for the British organizer Sustainable Energy Council (SEC), spoke to H2-international of more than 15,000 trade fair and more than 2,000 conference guests (if a person appears on three days, they are counted three times) as well as 500 exhibitors who presented their products and services. At the Hydrogen Technology Conference & Expo in Bremen last year were around 550 exhibitors and more than 10,000 visitors.

Large, prominent conference
Similar to Hannover, there were two presentation forums where current developments were provided in the form of lectures, and a truly impressively large three-day conference that easily eclipses German congresses in terms of both the prominence of the speakers and the number of participants. (The only irritating thing was that not all conference guests knew that the trade fair did not run parallel on every day.) There was also an Africa Hydrogen Forum and the awarding of the World Hydrogen Awards.

Visit from New Mexico
Noteworthy was the visit of the governor of New Mexico: Michelle Lujan Grisham appeared in the Netherlands with an accompanying entourage and business representatives to promote the settlement of potential interested parties on the abundant land available in New Mexico. The US state, which has so far been dominated by oil and gas, is consciously focusing on the transformation process, in order to create a new future for the country and the many people working in the energy sector.

During an on-site talk with H2-international, the governor expressed that New Mexico is well prepared for the energy transition and has no fears about a presidential change should it come to that in November 2024. The detailed interview will follow in the October 2024 edition of H2-international.

Author: Sven Geitmann

Hydrogen economy gaining speed

Hydrogen economy gaining speed

Trade fair guide for Hannover Messe 2024

AI and hydrogen are the focus of this year’s Hannover Messe. H2‑international’s trade fair preview is showing what’s new to see at the Hannover Messe and especially Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe.

The transformation of industry towards climate neutrality is gaining more and more momentum. Which is why the decarbonization of industry is also at the center of interest at this year’s Hannover Messe. The energy industry has a crucial role to play in this. The transformation is based on two drivers: artificial intelligence (AI) and hydrogen. Because it is clear that a climate-neutral industry without a hydrogen economy is inconceivable.

Over 500 exhibitors on the topic of hydrogen will be represented at Hannover Messe 2024. Most of them in the context of the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe fair in Hall 13. Also this year’s partner country, Norway, with its motto “Pioneering the Green Industrial Transition,” is putting carbon-neutral production and new digital solutions in focus at its hydrogen pavilion (Stand D30). Likewise under the banner of the hydrogen economy is the Norwegian-German energy conference “Renewable Dialogue – North Sea Energy Hub,” which will take place in the Convention Center April 23, 2024. This conference particularly aims to concretize business models of the H2 economy. Hydrogen is also a central component of the All Electric Society Arena. This arena is directly connected to the ZVEI stand in the middle of Hall 11, Stand B58.

What products, services and business models the hydrogen economy already offers today will be shown by exhibitors of Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe. Important players and innovations H2‑international is introducing in this trade fair preview.

Fuel cell technology

Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH is presenting at the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe its fuel cell system HyModule S4. It is conceived for stationary applications in residential buildings and small industrial complexes and as an emergency or off-grid power supply. The device offers a lower power range of 4.1 kWel and an output voltage range of 28 to 55 VDC. The H2 supply pressure is 1.5 to 7 bar. The HyModule S4 uses the liquid-cooled FC technology HyStack 200 from Proton Motor and can be used in an ambient temperature of 5 to 40 °C.

Fig. 2: The FC system HyModule S4 for stationary applications,
Source: Proton Motor, Proton Motor, Halle 13, Stand E34

The automotive group Honda is coming to Hannover with the prototype of its new fuel cell module. The module is designed for H2 cars, commercial vehicles, construction machinery and stationary power generators. The fuel cell in compact dimensions has a high output power and a fast start-up time, even in environments with low temperatures. For use in heavy-duty commercial vehicles, Honda has already begun, together with Isuzu Motors, to test the fuel cell drive of the next generation. A prototype is already out on public roads. The launch of a series model is planned for 2027.

Fig. 3: The FC module FCS-26 from Honda is also suitable as a clean and quiet emergency power source,
Source: Honda
Honda, Halle 13, Stand C56

SFC Energy, manufacturer of hydrogen and methanol fuel cells, has expanded the performance class of its mobile solution Efoy H2Genset. The mobile solution is intended as an alternative to conventional diesel generators. It can be used for a multitude of applications, e.g. on construction sites, at events, at festivals and in remote locations with temporary power requirements.

Fig. 4: Mobile fuel cell device for use on construction sites or at festivals,
Source: SFC Energy, SFC Energy, Halle 13, Stand C04

Ballard Power Systems does not have its own presence at this year’s Hannover Messe. However, the company is part of a Canadian delegation participating in a joint presentation of over 300 exhibitors from 25 countries in the field of hydrogen and fuel cell technology. Currently, there are nearly 4,000 trucks and buses worldwide driven with fuel cells from Ballard (see also p. 61). The fuel cells are also used in several hydrogen ships, trains and hydrogen projects with global partners. At the Hannover Messe, Ballard will be temporarily represented in the Canadian pavilion by an expert in fuel cell technology.

Ballard Power, Halle 13, Stand D40

Hydrogen supply

AEG Power Solutions equips hydrogen plants with direct current supply systems. The company’s electrolyzer power supply is designed to provide stable current and power over a wide voltage range. It is suitable for the production of green hydrogen with fluctuating renewable energy sources, as these electrolyzer converters offer high DC dynamics and high efficiency in terms of grid conformity, even in partial load operation. To reduce space requirements, installation time and costs, AEG Power Solutions offers scalable plug & play solutions. These solutions can comprise up to eight DC-3 modules in parallel, which deliver up to 16 MW, 1,500 VDC and 25.6 kADC.

Fig. 5: The plug & play electrolyzer power supply comprises up to eight DC-3 modules, 
Source: AEG Power Solutions
AEG Power Solutions, Halle 13, Stand B45

The company Siqens has developed an electrochemical hydrogen separation technology (EHS). In contrast to the electrolysis of water, the company wants to use it to produce hydrogen from biogas, methanol or methane. According to the manufacturer, the EHS process also allows the separation of hydrogen from natural deposits. Another application is the separation of hydrogen that will be transported via the natural gas grid.

Fig. 6: The EcoCabinet from Siqens,
Source: Siqens, Siqens, Halle 2, Stand A42

Fuel cell and electrolyzer components

The new humidifier HumidiPower from Pentair is designed for PEM fuel cells. It acts as a heat and moisture exchanger. According to the manufacturer, the device has a patented, spiral-wound hollow fiber design, to ensure efficient moisture transfer to air and other gases. A low pressure drop should minimize energy consumption. The moisture removed from the exhaust gas of the fuel cell is reused in the purge gas.

Fig. 7: The HumidiPower ensures sufficient moisture in the PEM fuel cell,
Source: Pentair, Pentair, Halle 13, Stand F46

Parker Hannifin is showcasing the latest developments in the field of fuel cell technology at its stand. At an interactive table, visitors can take a look inside an electrolyzer receptacle and search for Parker components in it. New is the horizontal gas filter Peach Gemini PuraSep. The filter contains two stages and two drums each. The upper drum is used to separate solids and liquids, while the lower drum collects the liquid. Some of the solids flow into the lower drum below the first stage, but most of the solids collect on the elements and on the bottom of the upper barrel of the first stage. Likewise new is a humidifier for FC vehicles and the H70-08-HRS hoses for H2 applications.

Fig. 8: At an interactive table, visitors can take a look inside an electrolyzer receptacle and search for Parker components in it
Source: Parker Hannifin, Parker Hannifin, Halle 13, Stand C55

Fischer Fuel Cell Compressor from Switzerland manufactures air compressors for fuel cell systems. Their special storage technology should then enable high performance and efficiency even when the fuel cell system is operating at high altitudes. Therefore, in addition to the classic FC applications in vehicles, trains, ships or stationary units, the compressors also have a place in aviation. The devices are not only in test mode, but are also in flight operation for several hours at a time. The company has also expanded its annual production capacity to 5,000 units.

Fig. 9: Compressors from Fischer are also suitable for aviation,
Source: Fischer Fuel Cell Compressor
Fischer Fuel Cell Compressor, Halle 13, Stand E46

Also the Danish specialist for FC compressors Rotrex is presenting a new air compressor. The EK40CT-2429 has an additional turbine/expander unit. This new compressor should be suitable for stationary, maritime and aerial applications with large fuel cell stacks with up to 400‑kW output power.

Fig. 10: The new fuel cell compressor from Rotrex,
Source: Rotrex, Rotrex, Halle 13, Stand C15

The Swiss company Celeroton Fuel Cell is developing and producing ultrahigh-speed turbo compressors and drive systems for fuel cell applications. All FC compressors from Celeroton are equipped with their own developed gas bearings that should enable high efficiency, oil-free operation and a long service life. With the CTi-1100, the company presents the second generation of the turbo compressor with integrated inverter for intralogistics, range extenders, stationary systems and drones. Likewise new is the CTi-2001 with integrated 80‑V inverter, conceived for intralogistics and off-road applications.

In addition, Celeroton Fuel Cell is expanding its product palette for applications with high power ranges. The new turbo compressor CTE-4000 in conjunction with the inverter CC-4000 should provide the air supply for fuel cells with a net output of 100 to 200 kW. The new system will be equipped with an optional turbine expander and several aerodynamic variants.

Fig. 11: Turbo compressor with 100 to 200 kW net output,
Source: Celeroton Fuel Cell, Celeroton, Halle 13, Stand D49

PDC Machines from the USA produces membrane compression systems and hydrogen compressors. Via the new online portal, customers can manage a digital operation twin of their installed PDC system. The portal offers access to important information, like the device status, recommended maintenance schedules, operation reports, service history, handbooks and data sheets. In addition, it enables the ordering of replacement parts. New is also a “PDC Toolbox,” which should help customers in the service or maintenance of PDC compressors.

Fig. 12: Access by QR code to the online portal MyPDCMachines,
Source: PDC Machines, PDC Machines, Halle 13, Stand E50/2

The gas analysis specialist Archigas from Rüsselsheim is presenting a novel measuring technology for humidity-independent H2 detection. For it, the company, in cooperation with the university Hochschule Rhein-Main, newly implemented the thermal conductivity measurement principle and combined it with semiconductor technology. With under 30 milliseconds, the new sensor from Archigas should exhibit an especially high reaction speed. If condensation comes in contact with the sensors for gas analysis, this usually leads to their immediate destruction. As a consequence, water can appear in the various places of the H2 process chain, security gaps can result and high costs can accrue. The special construction of the measuring module should therefore effectively combat a contact of condensate with the sensory units.

Fig. 13: As hydrogen is highly reactive, a detection over the whole process chain should be followed in real time
Source: Archigas, Archigas, Halle 13, Stand C16

Hydrogen refueling pumps

This year, Maximator Hydrogen is introducing its newest generation of hydrogen refueling pumps. The Max Dispenser 1.5 has a multimedia display with touch function, microphone, loudspeaker and NFC reader for direct payment. This enables users to receive precise refueling instructions and see the filling status of their vehicle. At the same time, the display serves as an interface to 24/7 support, which is always available to answer users’ questions.

Thanks to the built-in tilt detection, the dispenser is set to a safe state in dangerous situations, like for example impact with a vehicle. The H2 inflow is stopped, the relief valve is opened and the dispenser is de-energized. The dispenser can fill cars and heavy-duty vehicles with 700 bar or 350 bar.

Fig. 14: Thanks to the built-in tilt detection, the dispenser is set to a safe state in hazardous situations
Source: Maximator Hydrogen, Maximator Hydrogen, Halle 13, Stand C26

Also Linde is introducing a new hydrogen refueling pump at the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe. The HyQ-Dispenser should offer high performance in H2 refueling. It is also said to be energy-efficient, very quiet and optimized for maintenance work.

Fig. 15: Card payment at the new Linde hydrogen refueling pump,
Source: Linde, Linde, Halle 13, Stand D55/1

Components for hydrogen refueling pumps

Norgren under its brand Buschjost now offers H2 high-pressure solenoid valves with FM-approved coils for the North American market. The company can now serve customers who are building hydrogen refueling stations or hydrogen storage facilities for Korea, China, Europe or the USA. The valves are designed for a pressure of up to 1,050 bar.

New are also oxygen solenoid valves and regulators that the company has developed specifically in accordance with industrial gas standards for electrolysis applications. In addition, the company offers electric high-pressure proportional regulators for hydrogen refueling pumps.

Fig. 16: High-pressure solenoid valve with FM-approved coils for the North American market
Source: Norgren, Norgren, Halle 13, Stand E13

Also Eugen Seitz from Switzerland is coming to Hannover with a new solenoid high-pressure valve for hydrogen applications. The valve has an integrated position indicator, which should ensure optimum system status information.

Fig. 17: The new H2 solenoid high-pressure valve with position indicator,
Source: SeitzValve, Eugen Seitz, Halle 13, Stand D50

Bürkert is putting in focus with its trade fair appearance the new coil technology “Kick and Drop.” This technology is said to achieve energy savings of up to 80 percent in valves, 45 K less self-heating and 200 percent more switching pressure compared to conventional coils. The Kick-and-Drop coil is equipped with a double winding of an inrush and holding winding. In Kick-and-Drop electronics, the coil is excited by a high electric impulse. This generates the required inrush power that the valve needs to open. After around 500 milliseconds, the Kick-and-Drop electronics switch to an energy-saving holding mode. With this, the power consumption is drastically reduced.

Fig. 18: Kick-and-Drop coil from Bürkert,
Source: Bürkert, Bürkert, Halle 13, Stand C30


The German aerospace center for technical thermodynamics (DLR-Institut für Technische Thermodynamik) will be represented at the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe with its departments for energy system integration and electrochemical energy technology. The institute develops electrochemical reactors based on proton ceramics. Proton ceramic fuel cells are operated at temperatures between 400 and 600 °C. The electrode configuration separates the vapor supply from the hydrogen production and thus prevents a dilution of the two streams. These novel cells are versatile: They can supply electrochemically compressed hydrogen, they can enable the protonation of molecules such as CO or CO2 into valuable raw materials, and they can additionally be used as conventional fuel cells for energy supply.

In the PtX-Wind partial project of H2Mare, the DLR is researching the offshore production of green hydrogen and power-to-X products. At the trade fair, the research institute is also introducing the transportable platform XPlore. This serves to investigate various electrolysis technologies in combination with different synthesis technologies.

Fig. 19: The transportable platform XPlore serves for offshore tests,
Source: DLR (based on CAD from TUB-EBMS)
DLR, Halle 13, Stand B36

The ZBT in Duisburg (Zentrum für BrennstoffzellenTechnik) is putting its focus on electrolysis and hydrogen derivatives at this year’s trade fair. The research institute is showing a model of an ammonia cracking reactor that was produced using 3D metal printing. A to-scale model of the associated cracker system for mobile applications will also be on display. The system was designed for a sailing yacht and now installed as part of a complete ammonia ship propulsion system in the sports yacht Ammonia Sherpa.

Fig. 20: Ammonia cracker system for use on a sailing yacht,
Source: ZBT

The electrolysis division of the ZBT is presenting new precious metal-free membrane electrode units and introducing methods for the quality control of PEM electrolyzers. In the field of material qualification, the ZBT is demonstrating methods for the characterization and detection of damage phenomena on fuel cell components such as membrane electrode units or coatings on bipolar plates.
ZBT, Halle 13, Stand E40

Fraunhofer ISE is presenting a laboratory AEM electrolysis cell in Hannover. This is a further development of the PEM electrolysis cell design and will be used for the precise characterization and qualification of various components such as membranes, porous transport layers and catalysts. This happens at pressures of up to around 10 bar, increased current densities of over 5 A/cm² and under precise temperature control by an integrated heater. The institute also offers customers measurement services for PEM and AEM electrolyzers and an analysis of the measurement results, to identify opportunities to improve customer products.

A new design of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) for electrolysis and mobile fuel cells, manufactured using screen printing or slot die processes with commercially available materials, is also part of the trade fair presentation.

Fig. 21: New design of the MEA for electrolysis and mobile fuel cells,
Source: Fraunhofer ISE
Fraunhofer ISE, Halle 13, Stand C41

At this year’s Hannover Messe, Fraunhofer IMM is introducing, at the Fraunhofer joint stand (Fraunhofer-Gemeinschafsstand), a compact system for ammonia splitting. This can be used for the decentralized supply of hydrogen, for example for hydrogen refueling stations. In maritime applications, such a system can supply fuel cells with hydrogen or supply ignitable “split gas” for ship engines.

The theme at the special exhibition area (Sonderausstellungsfläche) of the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe is power-to-gas processes such as methanation in compact, microstructured reactors. In addition, Fraunhofer IMM is introducing reformer systems with which hydrogen carriers, like methanol, ethanol and synthetic hydrocarbons, can be used for hydrogen-based stationary and mobile energy supply. For these reformer systems, the institute is developing catalysts and catalytic coatings for microstructures.

Fig. 22: The ammonia and methanol-based systems for stationary and decentralized energy supply can be seen in Hall 2, Stand B24
Source: Fraunhofer IMM, Fraunhofer-Gemeinschafsstand, Halle 2, Stand B24, Fraunhofer IMM, Halle 13, Stand C47/1, Sonderausstellungsfläche

Machine building

The special machine manufacturer Graebener Maschinentechnik is presenting a press for the production of alkaline electrolyzer stacks. The pre-assembled stack consisting of bipolar plates is first inserted into the machine. There, it is compressed to a defined height until a certain pressure is reached within the stack. This pressure must then be maintained unchanged for several hours. During this time, the stack can be subjected to all the necessary technical tests with the help of other procedures.

The stack press for electrolyzers has a force of 800 metric tons and can accommodate stacks with a maximum height of around 3 m, a maximum diameter of 1.60 m and a weight of up to 12 tonnes. In order to be able to guarantee assembly work with maximum safety during operation, a hydraulic drive was deliberately dispensed with. Instead, the stack is compressed inside the press using six servomotor-driven spindle units. These are operated in synchronization mode and should therefore enable particularly homogeneous compression of the stack.

Fig. 23: The new stack press for electrolyzers,
Source: Graebener Maschinentechnik, Graebener Maschinentechnik, Halle 13, Stand E42

The laser welding specialist AWL-Techniek Holding from the Netherlands develops laser welding equipment and complete production lines for bipolar plates. According to the manufacturer, the new laser micro-welding cell can achieve a focus of 0.052 mm and therefore weld at high speed. This enables the sophisticated welding of the wafer-thin bipolar plates.

Fig. 24: In the Experience Center, AWL has set up a test facility that also enables automated quality control of the bipolar plates
Source: AWL, AWL-Techniek, Halle 13, Stand F49

The Belgian company Borit specializes in forming, cutting, welding and sealing technologies required for the production of metal bipolar plates for fuel cells and interconnects for electrolyzers. The trend with bipolar plates, according to Borit, is ever thinner materials on the order of 50 to 100 micrometers, in order to save weight. Borit develops the right technologies for such materials.

Fig. 25: Bipolar plates from Borit,
Source: Borit, Borit, Halle 13, Stand C19

Maceas, a 100-percent subsidiary of Worthmann Maschinenbau, focuses on helium leak testing in vacuum and under atmosphere as well as ultrasound gas bubble detection in water bath. The company is active in the areas of hydrogen, electrolysis, fuel cells and battery components as well as heat storage technology. In Hannover, the company is showing a new fully automated helium vacuum tightness testing system for metallic and graphitic bipolar plates.

Fig. 26: New system from Maceas for leak testing of bipolar plates,
Source: Maceas GmbH, Maceas, Halle 13, Stand E53/1

Catalysts and membranes

Pajarito Powder has built a new production facility for catalysts in fuel cell and electrolyzer stacks at its headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. The company uses platinum-group metals in its catalysts to achieve high performance and good stability and durability. With the new production facility, Pajarito Powder has tripled the production volume for FC catalyst material and doubled its in-house production of catalysts for the generation of green hydrogen.

Fig. 27: New production plant for significantly higher capacity,
Source: Pajarito Powder, Pajarito Powder, Halle 13, Stand A40

The Chinese manufacturer Anhui Contango New Energy Technology is showing in Hannover a large-format catalyst-coated membrane (CCM) on various PEM variants. The CCM should have a high current density and a low iridium and platinum content. Contango supplied around 20 MW of CCMs to large Chinese water electrolyzers last year. According to the provider, the product is also interesting for European customers.

Anhui Contango New Energy Technology, Halle 13, Stand A21

Carbon Energy Technology from China produces composite membranes. The company’s new product consists of an organic polymer, ceramic powder and a carrier material. The membranes are available in thicknesses of 200 and 500 µm. They are used for the alkaline electrolysis of water, as they can efficiently separate hydrogen and oxygen and allow the electrolyte to pass through.

Carbon Energy, Halle 13, Stand A42

System integrators, operators and consultants

H2Apex with headquarters in Rostock/Laage is based on three pillars: The company is active as a system integrator for turnkey hydrogen projects and mobility solutions. In addition, the company produces green hydrogen. The third pillar is the development and production of compressed gas storage systems for the temporary storage of hydrogen.

Fig. 28: Container with H2 compressed gas storage tanks,
Source: H2Apex, H2Apex, Halle 13, Stand E49

 The hydrogen core grid should be in operation by 2032. For this, natural gas pipelines are to be converted to hydrogen and new hydrogen pipelines are also to appear. German natural gas grid operator Ontras is contributing its starting grid H2-Startnetz to the project. Among other things, it consists of the two IPCEI projects “Green Octopus Mitteldeutschland” and “Doing hydrogen.” With it, Ontras wants to lay the foundation for efficient and safe hydrogen transport in its grid area. The eastern German company is connecting via its infrastructure the whole German with the European network – the European Hydrogen Backbone. Via this, hydrogen produced in Scandinavia is to make its way to Germany.

Fig. 29: The Ontras H2-Startnetz consists of the projects “Green Octopus Mitteldeutschland” and “Doing hydrogen”
Source: Ontras, Ontras, Halle 13, Stand D10

Siemens has expertise in the entire H2 value chain. The company makes this expertise available to OEM manufacturers, general contractors and plant operators as well as governments and municipalities in the implementation of hydrogen projects. This starts with financing and continues with the concept design and construction through to the operation of hydrogen generation plants and PtX projects. Siemens sees its strengths in the areas of digitalization, automation and electrification.

Siemens, Halle 13, Stand C36

The consulting firm PGUB Management Consultants is being represented in Hannover at the joint stand Hzwo-Gemeinschaftsstand Sachsen. PGUB advises the Swedish fuel cell manufacturer FCT Sweden. Under the name Protonik GmbH, starting April, an independent hydrogen consulting company is to be active. This is likewise to be found at the Gemeinschaftsstand Sachsen and also at the stand for the energy agency of the state of Hessen (hessische Landesenergieagentur, LEA).

PGUB, Halle 13, Stand B46 (HZwo) and C16 (LEA)

Author: Dr. Jens Peter Meyer

“If ever there was momentum for hydrogen, it is now”

“If ever there was momentum for hydrogen, it is now”

Interview with Dr. Jochen Köckler, chairman of Deutsche Messe

“We’re bringing people together.” With these words Dr. Jochen Köckler, board chairman of Deutsche Messe, described Hannover Messe’s ambition to once again be the place to go in real life for exhibitors and visitors in the industrial sector in 2024. This year, the focus will be even more on hydrogen than in 2023. Köckler emphasized the need for more togetherness by saying that the establishment of an H2 economy will “only succeed if people from politics and commerce work together.”

H2-international: Dr. Köckler, in 2023, hydrogen was already one of the five core topics you showcased during Hannover Messe. Will the presence of H2 technology increase again in 2024?

Köckler: We assume that we will experience a significant increase in the area of hydrogen. At Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe as well as in the other exhibition areas of Hannover Messe, the signs are pointing to growth.

H2-international: What will you, on the part of Deutsche Messe, do in order to underline the major importance of the topic hydrogen?

Köckler: With Norway as this year’s partner country, we are focusing on the topic of energy, and with that especially the topic of hydrogen. Germany and Norway agreed on an energy cooperation back in January 2023. In the joint declaration on hydrogen, the two countries reaffirmed their intention to establish a large-scale supply of hydrogen, including the necessary infrastructure, by 2030. Norway will therefore position itself with its joint stand in the energy section of the Hannover Messe.

H2-international: With Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe, one of the most important H2 trade fairs in Europe is part of your industry show. What can visitors expect there?

Köckler: Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe has been the meeting place for the international community for around 30 years. They meet there, they discuss all critical topics in two forums there. The Public Forum deals with current topics such as the question of what contribution hydrogen can make to reducing CO2. In the Technical Forum, new products and solutions are presented. Visitors who are interested in the topic of hydrogen will be given a comprehensive overview of technical innovations there but also of different fields of application.

But H2 solutions will be shown not only at the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe in hall 13, but also in other areas of the Hannover Messe. We are pleased that increasingly more exhibitors with hydrogen-related and fuel cell-related products are represented. In total, we expect more than 500 companies in Hannover. This will give the hydrogen economy a real boost. Salzgitter AG, for example, is informing on climate-neutral production of green steel from green hydrogen in hall 13.

H2-international: Were you at the Hydrogen Technology Expo in Bremen? Are you impressed by how quickly this trade fair has grown and how professionally it has matured?

Köckler: When a topic gains in importance, new opportunities for trade fairs naturally arise. That is normal. Our advantage is that we have been working in the field of hydrogen and fuel cells for decades and, in all this time, have established a unique community. This appreciates the integration of Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe in Hannover Messe, as it has direct access to industry, the energy sector and politics here. No other trade fair in the world has this.

H2-international: What is your view of the German events sector? What are the advantages of Hannover Messe compared to now large European H2 trade fairs such as those in Rotterdam or Paris?

Köckler: Hannover Messe is a horizontal trade fair at which representatives from politics, commerce and academia exchange ideas every year. They cross-fertilize each other and work together to drive developments forward. In hall 2, for example, scientists from leading research institutes will be showing what products and solutions are being researched. In the other halls of the Hannover Messe, the focus is on specific applications. Politics will be even more strongly represented this year than in previous years, as in addition to the German chancellor Olaf Scholz, German economy minister Robert Habeck and Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, are expected

The EU will be strongly represented overall. On the first day of the fair, the EU conference “EU as Home of the Decarbonised Industry” is taking place in the Convention Center on the fairgrounds in Hannover. At the event, industry representatives can exchange ideas with high-ranking EU politicians to discuss relevant topics such as the Green Deal. This possibility only Hannover Messe offers. Particularly in the energy sector is contact with politicians important, as all political decisions in this area have an impact on businesses.

Interviewer: Sven Geitmann

Starting points for a comprehensive hydrogen ramp-up

Starting points for a comprehensive hydrogen ramp-up

Industry congress GAT 2023 in Cologne

To establish a functioning hydrogen economy, the entire value chain must be addressed. It is important to keep in view the market and regulatory aspects as well as the technical aspects (standardization). At the event GAT 2023 in September in Cologne, it could be seen how intensively the industry is working on the implementation. Exciting here are, among other things, the conversion plans of the gas grid operators towards climate-neutral gases. The second phase of the GTP also shows the great interest on the part of municipalities and the industrial sector.

Dr. Kirsten Westphal made clear how the German association for energy and water economy (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft, BDEW) see the heating market of the future: “Instead of natural gas, in the future especially hydrogen and its derivatives will be employed,” said the member of top management at the event in Cologne. The hydrogen will come from domestic production as well as a considerable portion from imports. The BDEW is not worried that it will come to a deficit situation. “The studies show that sufficient quantities of hydrogen will be able to be made available,” stated Westphal.

However, the ramp-up of hydrogen production requires the right framework conditions. Regarding this, the BDEW representative counts in addition to the acceleration and strengthening of the expansion of renewable energies in Germany also the quick notification of IPCEI projects (Important Projects of Common European Interest) for hydrogen production by the EU, which will then actually occur at the end of the year (see p. 20), as well as other supplementary funding programs to reach the electrolysis capacity target of 10 GW in year 2030.

On the import side, Westphal is calling on politicians to present an import strategy in the short term. Furthermore, the financing of import projects should also be flanked by measures such as Hermes cover (export credit guarantees) or capital subsidies.

Establishment of a functioning H2 trading market

One aspect of particular importance, however, is to embed the ramp-up of hydrogen production in the development of a market. In each of the various phases in this, different political instruments are needed: to begin, more steering and support; later, a growing market and less support. The visualized goal is a functioning trading market in which hydrogen volumes are efficiently distributed according to market-based mechanisms.

But what characterizes the image of the targeted steady-state hydrogen market? In Cologne, the BDEW expert named a whole bundle of criteria:

  • Production and trade of hydrogen and its derivatives in Germany, the EU and globally in sufficient quantities
  • The combination of long-term contracts (particularly at import level) with competitive prices that reflect current market conditions as well as increasing spot deliveries
  • The trading of guarantees of origin, certificates and commodities on a uniform, standardized European market that includes an international connection
  • Competition for access to end customers as well as transparent price signals and sufficient market liquidity on the supplier side
  • A fully functional and comprehensive network infrastructure. Non-discriminatory grid access for all competitive players on the hydrogen market. H2 grid access is essentially based on the entry-exit system.
  • Climate-neutral hydrogen is used wherever there is demand. Demand is based on the market price.
  • Storage options ensure security of supply for hydrogen and derivatives and open up various ways to make the hydrogen market flexible. There is decentralized generation and purchase as well as central storage.

In all these projects are, according to Westphal, a transparent and reliable standardization as well as certification needed, to also create acceptance for hydrogen and its derivatives, which also needs a stable regulatory framework.

Standardization of particular importance

The establishing of standards is also the means of choice from the view of Dr. Thomas Gößmann. According to the Thyssengas chairman, it should be borne in mind that the approval offices have had little contact with the topic of hydrogen until now and therefore have no experience in most cases.

For Germany as an export country, the agreement on international standards is of particular importance, stated Oda Keppler, ministerial director at the German ministry for education and research (BMBF), at GAT. This applies, among other things, for the quality criteria for the product hydrogen, as otherwise the international trading of it could not be done.

For the success of the hydrogen economy, it is crucial, according to Gößmann, to involve the people. “If the country of engineers succeeds in taking the people with it, then we will also succeed,” the Thyssengas chairman is certain. It is also important not to focus too much on the color principle of the hydrogen. This is hardly comprehensible for many people anyway. “We are colorblind. We’re setting up the highway. It doesn’t matter to us who drives on it,” said the grid operator.

Dr. Frank Reiners is certain that the hydrogen economy will only really take off when the entire value chain is populated. According to the member of the management board of Open Grid Europe, however, pipeline construction is of particular importance. Germany as a hub has a special role and responsibility here, as many gas pipelines come on land or come together here. “We cannot afford to do nothing,” stated Reiners in Cologne.

Prof. Gerald Linke, chairman of the DVGW, said at the opening of the industry event GAT in Cologne, “The backbone network must provide all regions in Germany with access to climate-neutral hydrogen.”

H2 core network for all regions

The German association for gas and water standards (Deutscher Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches, DVGW) welcomes the federal government’s initiative, in an amendment to the energy industry act (Energiewirtschaftsgesetz), to establish a legal framework for the rapid approval and construction of a hydrogen core network. However, to the DVGW, this approach does not go far enough. “The backbone network must provide all regions in Germany with access to climate-neutral hydrogen, as otherwise an exiting of entire economy sectors is imminent, especially the small and medium enterprises,” said the DVGW chairman Prof. Gerald Linke at the industry event.

In a second step, transformation regulation for gas distribution grids is therefore also needed. Without an extensive conversion of the existing gas distribution infrastructure, it will not be possible to transform the connections of 1.8 million industrial and commercial customers toward climate neutrality, stressed Linke.

The basis for the transport to end customers has been laid out in the so-termed Gasnetzgebietstransformationsplan (gas grid area transformation plan, GTP) by the DVGW together with the initiative H2vorOrt. In the current second planning year, 241 gas distribution system operators have participated, a significant increase compared to the 180 companies in the previous year. Currently, the GTP covers pipelines with a total length of 415,000 km (258,000 mi) and reaches 381 of the total 401 regional districts of Germany.

The planning process with the GTP is deliberately designed to be open-ended and includes the conversion, decommissioning and partial new construction of pipelines. Considered are all new, climate-neutral gases, so in addition to hydrogen also for example biomethane. The aim of the GTP is to accelerate the transformation at the distribution grid level and, by the individual planning of the grid operators in coordination with the other stages of the supply chain, to create a coherent vision for the whole of Germany. As part of the GTP planning, the grid operators are analyzing on the basis of their specific situations on site the demands of their customers, the decentralized feed-in situation, the development of hydrogen availability by upstream network operators and the technical suitability of their networks for hydrogen.

For the first time in Germany, the conversion of a long-distance gas pipeline to transport hydrogen has begun at OGE Verdichterstation Emsbüren

Municipalities and industry are planning with hydrogen

Part of the GTP is also a survey of end customers by the respective network operators. This revealed a clear preference for the use of climate-neutral gases. Only five percent of the nearly 1,000 surveyed municipalities see no need in the long term for the use of climate-neutral gases. Of the nearly 2,000 major industrial customers who responded, more than three quarters are relying on hydrogen in the future. And 29 percent already see the use of hydrogen as an option by 2030, while a further 30 percent expect this in the coming decade.

Some current projects show that these visions are already currently being implemented. For example, mid-October at Verdichterstation Emsbüren, a compressor station of grid operator OGE in Niedersachsen, was the start of the conversion of the first long-distance pipeline to transport hydrogen (see Fig. 3). As part of the project GET H2 Nukleus, this is to establish the core for a nationwide hydrogen infrastructure. With the changeover, the participating network operators want to enable customers from industry and SMEs to connect to the hydrogen supply.

Most of the municipalities surveyed, according to the DVGW poll, are counting on climate-neutral gases in the long term

Another project started at the beginning of November in Energiepark Bad Lauchstädt with the start of the second phase of the conversion of a natural gas pipeline for the transport of hydrogen. For the technically seamless operation of the grid of the future of transmission system operator Ontras Gastransport, a pig launcher was placed in position. The following months will be preparation for putting into operation the hydrogen pipeline. For this, the construction of a transfer station as well as setting up a system for purifying and drying the gas are necessary. Once Energiepark Bad Lauchstädt is fully operational in year 2025, test transfers of hydrogen will follow, scientifically accompanied by DBI-GTI (DBI Gastechnologisches Institut gGmbH Freiberg), an independent laboratory of the DVGW.

Such projects help to increasingly address the locational advantages of the continent. At GAT in Cologne, Prof. Thomas Thiemann of Siemens Energy summed up the situation as follows: “With its large pipeline network and storage facilities, Europe has a huge asset compared to other areas. We must exploit this advantage.”

Out of the surveyed industrial customers, 76 percent are interested in hydrogen

Study: Green hydrogen not more expensive than gas in the long term

End customer prices for green hydrogen in the medium and long term could be in the range of natural gas or the current subsidization threshold of natural gas of 12 euro-cents per kWh (Gaspreisbremse). That is what the study by Frontier Economics on behalf of the DVGW determined. If total costs are compared – so costs for acquisition, building renovation and operation, – then the cost for both single-family and multi-family houses with a gas boiler powered by hydrogen, depending on building type and efficiency class, lie at a similar level to an electrically run heat pump. In the study, the total costs of various energy carriers for households as well as for exemplary heat supply solutions were compared with each other.

For the cost comparison, indicative end customer prices based on production costs were used. In addition to the prices for gaseous energy sources, the DVGW study also compares the total costs that households may incur depending on the heat supply solution. Because if the goal is to meet the climate targets, heat generation for buildings in Germany must be fundamentally changed, according to the DVGW.

The aim of the investigation is, on the one hand, to put the end customer prices of green hydrogen in relation to alternative energy sources for households in the years 2035 and 2045. On the other hand, the analysis focuses on the total costs of different heat supply solutions for two selected building types in the efficiency classes B and D. Considered are green gas boilers based on biomethane and climate-neutral hydrogen as well as heat pumps.

Overall, the comparison shows that the cost ratios of the energy sources change over the period under review. While end customer prices for climate-neutral hydrogen in Germany are expected to remain above those for natural gas and biomethane until 2035, they could reach a comparable level by 2045.

Households in Germany would therefore have to pay between 12 and 17 euro-cents per kWh for hydrogen in 2035. The price of natural gas, on the other hand, taking rising CO2 prices into account, would be between 9 and 11 euro-cents per kWh, and that for biomethane just above, at around 10 to 13 euro-cents per kWh, depending on the biomass used in its production.

After 2035, end customer prices for hydrogen could fall and approach those of natural gas. The main drivers for this include the degression of costs for H2 production and rising CO2 prices in the context of emissions trading. In year 2045, according to the study, purchase prices for hydrogen could then lower to around 11 to 15 euro-cents per kWh.

Author: Michael Nallinger

The industry highpoint in autumn

The industry highpoint in autumn

Hydrogen Technology Expo total success

In autumn 2023 as well, the Hydrogen Technology Expo was again the event you had to be at. For the third time in a row, the British organizer Trans-Global Events Ltd was able to dramatically increase the number of exhibitors as well as visitors – which is why the trade fair halls of the Hanseatic city on the Weser (Bremen) will no longer be sufficient in 2024. The move to Hamburg this year is therefore inevitable and had been predicted early on by H2-international (see H2-international Feb. 2023).

The trend is unmistakable: More and more companies from the mechanical engineering, electrical and chemical industries are flooding the hydrogen market. Accordingly, a large number of completely new exhibitors could be found in the four trade fair halls in Bremen. Among them were numerous unknown names, but also heavyweights such as Saudi Aramco, ExxonMobil or ITM Power.

After 180 exhibitors in the first and 350 in the second year, this time there were over 550 – in 2024, there should be at least 100 more. The number of visitors increased from 5,000 in the previous year to over 10,000.

Moving towards mass production

Companies like the chemicals corporation Gore had explicitly “chosen this trade show in Europe” because “Europe is furthest along.” Nouchine Humbert, Global Marketing Director of W.L. Gore, told H2-international, “This is a market where we expect strong growth.” Referred to is particularly the electrolysis sector, because in comparison fuel cells need “many more square meters than electrolyzers.”

Sufficient production capacity is available to the North American company – in Japan. The production lines there are enough for another five years, asserted Rainer Enggruber, director of the division PEM/water/electrolysis products. Gigawatt announcements are therefore not a challenge for the membrane manufacturer, it was confidently stated.

New tubular reactor

An innovation was shown by the Hebmüller Group. Sales director Marc Hebmüller presented the prototype of the HydroGenMHD (see Fig. 1), an H2 generation device from One Scientific of Johnson City, Tennessee. The company Hebmüller is the European licensee of the US system developer that developed this compact tubular catalyst, in whose magnetohydrodynamic chamber hydrogen is generated upon splitting off of oxygen from water vapor.

Marc Hebmüller explained: “This innovative technology employs a unique system where superheated steam is subjected to a catalyst and intense magnetic fields generated through the MHD process. These magnetic fields induce controlled plasma dynamics within the feedstock, facilitating the dissociation of molecules into hydrogen gas and oxygen gas.”

Stack based on circuit boards

A completely new concept for the production of fuel cells was presented by Bramble Energy: a fuel cell stack based on printed circuit board technology. The British company founded in 2017 relies here on the plastic FR4, which provides the necessary stability, and copper as a heat as well as electricity conductor. Between two circuit boards is one membrane each, which means that bipolar plates can be dispensed with entirely. Instead, a monopolar plate constitutes a single cell, of which several are then stacked.

The technology readiness level Carsten Pohlmann, director for business development (see Fig. 2), puts at TRL 9, and the price per kilowatt at 100 USD. First tests in a Renault demonstrator and with a 100 kW system for a double-decker bus are already underway.

Carsten Pohlmann presented in Bremen for the first time the circuit board cell from Bramble

The next Hydrogen Technology Expo Europe will take place October 23 and 24, 2024 on the fairgrounds of Messe Hamburg. It therefore will overlap by one day with WindEnergy.


Hy-Fcell offered technical tours for the first time

Hy-Fcell offered technical tours for the first time

Landesmesse Stuttgart has put the industry event just renamed Hy-Fcell on course for growth. In view of increasing global competition in the event segment, the trade fair company was working towards establishing Stuttgart as an international nucleus for especially the fuel cell vehicle sector. On September 13 and 14, more than 150 exhibitors presented their products and services at the fairgrounds by the airport – this year in Hall 4 for the first time, directly behind International Congresscenter Stuttgart (ICS).

The kick-off was being made this year by Daria Nochevnik, director of the Hydrogen Council. As head of this worldwide association of hydrogen activists, she lookd at the H2 economy on a global level in her keynote. She said: “Germany has from the start played an important role in the introduction of the hydrogen economy in Europe and on a global scale.”

Invited as well were political representatives like Baden-Württemberg’s minister for environment and energy economy Thekla Walker as well as parliamentary secretary in the federal ministry for economy and climate protection Dr. Franziska Brantner. At the conference were 60 expert presentations focused on fuel cell production, where the research platform H2GO of the Fraunhofer institutes hold alone eight sessions. Further talks were also offered by – in addition to the hosting Hy-Fcell team – the administrative agencies for hydrogen NOW, e-mobil BW, VDMA, DVGW and ZSW.

After a long time, vehicles with alternative drives were once again shown off and offered for test drives. New were also the hy-fcell Technical Tours, which provided an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at local industry players. In guided tours, various buses started from the fairgrounds and went to manufacturer Cellcentric and state research institute Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg during Tour Ulm. Tour Heilbronn leaded to German aerospace agency location DLR Lampoldshausen as well as to the Audi location in Heilbronn. And during Tour Stuttgart, public transport company SSB as well as Hydrogen Green were viewed.

Katharina Jathe, director for Hy-Fcell at Messe Stuttgart, stated, the Technical Tours not only promised “exciting inside views into the work of pioneers in the field of hydrogen and fuel cell technology”, but also granted a “special view of Region Stuttgart”.


Particular attention was placed on startups this time. In a central area, startup companies from various countries introduced themselves, met potential interested parties and also established new business relationships. Stefan Lohnert, managing director of Messe Stuttgart, said regarding this: “The industry thrives on brave and visionary people.” That is why we wanted to give young entrepreneurs a “stage of their own and offer them an opportunity to transform their ideas into profitable applications”.

In addition, a Speakers Corner was set up in International Congresscenter Stuttgart on the fairgrounds, and a B2B Matchmaking as well as a Networking Night was offered. There was also something for up-and-coming or, conversely, established professionals: During hy-fcell Career Compass, businesses presented themselves in 3-minute pitches. In a subsequent speed networking session, potential associates could find each other in a more direct fashion.

Author: Sven Geitmann