“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

Pilot plant for coating bipolar plates

Pilot plant for coating bipolar plates

At Fraunhofer FEP (Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik), a pilot plant for the coating of metal sheets and strips is being used for the efficient coating of bipolar plates for electrolyzers and fuel cells. The institute, according to its own statements, is a leader in the development of electron beam and plasma technologies. This expertise could also advance hydrogen technology in the future.

One example of this would be plasma-activated electron beam evaporation. This is a vacuum coating process that enables both high throughput and high coating quality. Exactly this combination is crucial for the coating of bipolar plates for electrolyzers and fuel cells. Because these have to function for a long time, stably, in a chemically aggressive environment. For this, they must receive coatings that reliably protect the plates and at the same time guarantee electrical conductivity.


Using electron beam evaporation, coatings to form a certain shape can be applied to the metal strip before these are stamped into bipolar plates, stated Burkhard Zimmermann, division manager for electron beam technologies at Fraunhofer FEP. The coating of the material is a crucial step for scaling the production with a roll-to-roll process. The challenge here is the formability of the coating. To ensure this, a dense macrostructure of the coating with the largest possible crystallites is required. Exactly these layer properties can be realized by the developed processes.

Picea 2 relies on lithium instead of lead

Picea 2 relies on lithium instead of lead

HPS presents new product generation

The company HPS Home Power Solutions has unveiled a new generation of its seasonal energy storage system. The Picea 2 now uses lithium batteries, which makes installation in the home easier due to the lower weight. With twice the power, the appliance is also equipped for e-mobility and heat pumps.


The new research and development site is located almost directly next to the youth center of FC Union Berlin in an industrial area in Berlin-Niederschöneweide. In the future, not only kickers but also installers and partners will be trained there. But not only that; the new version of the seasonal storage unit is also to be manufactured there. “On-site installation is even more cost-effective for us, as the transport costs come out lower,” stated company founder and CEO Zeyad Abul-Ella – left in December 2023 and since then only still a shareholder – at the first presentation of the new device to an exclusive circle of visitors.

Nine years after its founding and a good five years after the first presentation of a Picea model at the trade fair Energy Storage in Düsseldorf 2018, there is a whole series of further developments of the product. The device has needed to change with the times. With Picea 2, the output power has therefore doubled to 15 kilowatts, which makes it possible to cover higher energy requirements, for example for an e-car or a heat pump. In the event of a power failure, the backup power supply ensures that important installations in the household are supplied with a stable power supply. “For each of the three phases of the three-phase current, the device now delivers five kilowatts of power,” explained Abul-Ella.

The new generation of the storage system also offers an increased connected load for photovoltaic systems – picking up on the trend in the market. Through new power electronics, according to HPS, efficiency was able to be increased, which means that higher levels of self-sufficiency are now possible. The energy utilization efficiency (Nutzungsgrad) including heat utilization is 90 percent. The electrical efficiency is between 35 and 40 percent.

Cooperation with competent partners

The device now uses an external inverter from SofarSolar, in which the software for the storage system has accordingly been adapted. “We do what we are really good at. For all other components, we rely on cooperation with partners,” said trained civil engineer Abul-Ella. The latter applies to both the inverter and the lithium batteries.

The AEM electrolyzer comes from the German-Italian company Enapter. The abbreviation AEM stands for anion exchange membrane. The technology uses more cost-effective materials such as steel instead of titanium and combines the advantages of alkaline electrolysis with the flexibility and compactness of PEM electrolysis. Enapter co-founder Vaitea Cowan was also present at the product launch, and Hans-Peter Villis, former EnBW (Energie Baden-Württemberg AG) director as well as partner from the very beginning and today chairman of the supervisory board at HPS.

Specifications for developers

“A tough requirement for the technical developers was to retain the dimensions for the slide-in boxes for the electrolyzer and the fuel cell in the energy center of the original Picea,” stressed Abul-Ella. The first Picea customers are pioneers. They should therefore also benefit from the innovations and be able to switch to them easily at a later date. A further development in the electrolysis module cools the hydrogen to 5 °C. This makes it possible to take in four to five times the amount of gas, because the moisture is now removed before storage.

New are also status displays that, at the touch of a button on the device or via the app, provide information about important system and storage statuses. The system always consists of an energy center and a hydrogen storage tank with a compressor that is installed outside the house on a concrete foundation. This foundation is absolutely essential.

The energy center unit has slimmed down considerably and now weighs 70 percent less: instead of 2.2 metric tons, now only 700 kilograms (1540 lbs). Reason is the switch from lead-acid to lithium batteries from the company Pylontech. The overall height has also reduced by 15 centimeters compared to its predecessor to 1.85 meters (6.07 ft). Doesn’t sound like much, but can be decisive for installation in a basement.

The Picea 2 costs at minimum 99,900 euros

The Picea module converts the surplus solar power in summer into hydrogen. In this way, large amounts of energy can be stored efficiently and over long periods of time. In winter, the gas, via a fuel cell, can be converted back into electricity and heat. The long-term storage capacity is up to 1,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity. In the smallest version with 16 gas cylinders, it is 300 kilowatt-hours.

The smallest version of the Picea 2 costs 99,900 euros. The gross price is the same as the net price, as the sales tax for the device, including storage units, is zero percent. With more storage capacity, the cost rises to up to 140,000 euros. This applies to a new construction where the installation can also be planned. In existing buildings, it can be a bit more complicated, so the amount may increase to up to 160,000 euros.

The demand seems to be there. Because over 500 devices of the first generation have been sold to date. More than 100 are installed at customers’ spaces.

Author: Niels Hendrik Petersen

Hydrogen shares sustainably on course

Hydrogen shares sustainably on course

“Life punishes those who arrive too late” is the famous Gorbachev quote. The inverse could be applied to hydrogen at this time: The stock market punishes those who come too early. The shares of H2 companies are trading at a price level as if the supermolecule has no future. Far from it! The stock market wisdom of contrary opinion recommends doing the opposite of what the majority of investors are doing at the stock market.

Warren Buffett would add that you should not change your mind at the stock market if the general mood suggests it. On the contrary: Buy shares whose whole stories are simply “round,” and despite short-term disruptive factors remain unperturbed, as long as the outlook is right. Looking at the current situation, there are many opinions that view hydrogen and fuel cells critically. Also the increasing employment of batteries will then be brought into the field and their advantages underscored, such as energy density, travel range, new materials and recycling. But that is not a convincing counter-argument, because there are real synergies between the battery and hydrogen. However, if we apply the above contrary opinion to shares in the H2 sector, one should buy now and reduce the price or engage this complex of topics completely newly at the stock exchange, as prices have bottomed out and are set to rise gradually and sustainably.


The stock market thrives on dreams, and they are clearly present here – climate change and decarbonization are setting the pace. Every day, projects around the globe are announced that deal with the production and use of hydrogen in various applications and markets. All of this is real, even if the implementation will still take some time and some projects are still in the planning phase. Worldwide, projects with a volume of over 500 billion USD have been announced – and probably only five to ten percent of these are in actual implementation. Note, however: These are clearly defined projects.

Different speeds

The ramp-up and concrete implementation of hydrogen projects are taking place at different speeds – from region to region, from country to country, from business to business. The reasons for this are manifold. It is often regulation that prevents, delays or, on the contrary, accelerates important developments.

Current examples: A few weeks ago, US president Biden launched a program of seven billion USD to support the construction of seven H2 hubs in the USA. The good thing about it: Private capital of an additional 40 billion USD will be stimulated by the the 7-billion-dollar boost through the market economy. And just as the Inflation Reduction Act pragmatically makes capital available to companies, other countries and economic zones should likewise proceed to spark comparable dynamics.

Interesting is the glance at certain markets such as long-haul transport by truck. In agreement are the majority of truck manufacturers that hydrogen will be the energy source especially for heavy goods, whereas on short treks, it’ll be the battery or a hybrid of the two – depending on field of application and radius. Emissions legislation and CO2 levies will make the transition from diesel to hydrogen and batteries necessary. We’re talking about several million trucks that step by step need to be modified for the future.

In parallel, the charging or refueling infrastructure will be established. Tesla with its Supercharger network is a good example for this, because the company itself has solved the chicken-and-egg problem. That the ramp-up will take a few years yet is clear to see. Companies such as Ballard Power, Cummins Engine, Nikola Motors, Hyzon Motors and many others are in the process of positioning themselves perfectly for the ramp-up. And what applies to heavy transport also goes similarly for maritime transport (here again are Ballard, Bloom Energy, Cummins) and rail. Companies that position themselves correctly in terms of technology and create the necessary capacities will benefit from the future development.

South Korea and Japan are leading the way, as is China. In the USA, it is California, as the highest-performing federal state, that has fully recognized the potential of hydrogen. Interesting is also a glance at the world map in terms of ammonia as a basis for the transport of regeneratively produced hydrogen: 177 major projects have been announced worldwide – the production of hydrogen and transport over long distances via ammonia (NH3) will then increase sharply starting 2026, which also ensures that hydrogen will be available in ever larger quantities at falling prices (up to 1 USD per kilogram is the forecast for the next 10 to 15 years).

At the major trade fairs and conferences, spirits were high even though the companies know that the implementation of many projects will take a while – longer than expected. The large number of partnerships and project descriptions makes it impossible not to be optimistic. In my view, a boom will emerge that will be based on and boosted by development in countries such as China.

Analogous to 2020

The stock market, in my opinion, is entering a new phase that can be compared with the period from 2017 to 2020, when there was a price explosion in H2 shares. The difference between the years around 2020 and those from 2024 to 2030, however, is that in the future there will be a steady, long-term and sustainable upturn in the H2 sector – surely again with some price exaggeration upwards as well as downwards, but rising in trend.

Companies have built up production capacities, optimized their products, realigned their business models and are preparing for the ramp-up. They will be able to deliver when the market demands it. The stock exchange will anticipate this step by step, provided the industry proves that it is possible to earn money with regeneratively produced hydrogen. Then, a comparison with the years 2017 to 2020 is inappropriate in that the prices in the future will sustainably rise, because a new megatrend is running its course – worldwide.

There is a need to differentiate between the various FC sectors and individual companies, however. It depends on how one as a company is positioned in the “right markets,” because competition in terms of profit margins is also increasing in parallel. For example, the production of electrolyzers in China is up to 70 percent cheaper than the global competition. Companies that earn money from hydrogen as a consumable and commodity are, in my opinion, better valued by the stock market than pure plant builders. The business models will influence the development of share prices in various ways, since what counts in the end is the return on investment (ROI), the company’s profit.

Book tip, indirectly on the topic (German-language): “Zukunft – eine Bedienungsanleitung” by Florence Gaub (ISBN 9 78323 283724)

But what you need as an investor is composure and time. Buy and leave and buy again little by little to achieve a good average price. Safer than individual investments in this are of course H2 funds (ETFs), of which there are plenty and which do not differ greatly in the composition of the securities. According to the cost-average principle, always buy more. Consider this: Facebook, Tesla, Google and Amazon were also not a success story right from the start, but rather after various numbers of beginning years demanded enormous capital expenditures and also justified logical losses in the start-up phase.


Each investor must always be aware of their own risk when investing in shares and should consider a sensible risk diversification. The FC companies and shares mentioned here are small and mid cap, i.e. they are not standard stocks and their volatility is also much higher. This report is not meant to be viewed as purchase recommendations, and the author holds no liability for your actions. All information is based on publicly available sources and, as far as assessment is concerned, represents exclusively the personal opinion of the author, who focuses on medium- and long-term valuation and not on short-term profit. The author may be in possession of the shares presented here.

Author: Written by Sven Jösting, December 15th, 2023

The hydrogen megatrend

The hydrogen megatrend

Dear readers

In recent years, hydrogen has managed to move out of its niche and onto the political main stage. Not just in Germany and Europe but across the world, the energy sector is bracing itself for change as we move from the fossil fuel age to a renewable era.


While some regions are only slowly preparing themselves for the real energy transition, many countries in central Europe as well as nations like the United States and Japan are right in the thick of it. The introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act saw the US roll out a huge financial package. Such a step has yet to be taken in China. The People’s Republic has long been at the forefront of electric transportation but the political framework for instigating a hydrogen economy remains a work in progress (see p. 48).

Germany, on the other hand, was at the cutting edge when it coined the term “energy transition” many years ago, an expression that now, around the globe, epitomizes this transformation process. And by phasing out coal and nuclear power and cutting back on oil and gas, Germany finds itself in a good position, but we are no longer at the forefront when it comes to tackling the climate crisis.

For a long while, Germany was ahead of the field when it came to the environment – leading on solar and wind technology as well as hydrogen and fuel cells. The hope is for a better result this time when establishing its own hydrogen and fuel cell industry than was the case for photovoltaics.

The German government recently adopted the update to its national hydrogen strategy, thus making clear its support for the course it set three years ago (see p. 14). What’s more, Germany is now getting a steering committee for hydrogen standardization so it can launch a standardization road map for hydrogen technologies (see p. 6).

With so much happening, it will come as no surprise that, in the German-speaking world especially, the word for “hydrogen” (Wasserstoff) has for many months been a popular term in online searches. Interest in hydrogen began to grow at the end of 2018 – well before the market started to ramp up, as research using Google Trends clearly shows (see p. 7). At that point, the number of inquiries using the Google search engine increased considerably, exceeding the 2004 level in early 2019.

Since then, the US corporation has recorded ever-higher numbers of searches for this particular keyword. In early and mid-2020 and early 2021, hydrogen inquiries overtook searches for the German equivalent of “photovoltaic” by a wide margin. Over the years, “hydrogen” almost always outperformed German inquiries for “fuel cell,” “electric mobility” and “digitization” (see cover graphic for German search results with keywords translated into English).

Globally the situation is a little different: Throughout the past two decades, a comparatively high number of Google users have looked up the word “hydrogen” in English – far more frequently than the English words “fuel cell,” “photovoltaic” or any spelling of “digitization.” Only “PV” enjoys a similar popularity to “hydrogen.”

Of course, this kind of trend analysis isn’t rigorously scientific, but it does give a representative indication of the interest level in hydrogen now, and how that compares with the past. Our analyst Sven Jösting, who has been monitoring the stock market performance of hydrogen and fuel cell companies for many years (see p. 47), has for a long time talked about a “megatrend.”

To all the critics who say it’s just another hydrogen hype, I can confidently reply: It is extremely likely that this time we’re looking at a proper hydrogen boom. And we’re right at the start of it.

For it’s only early days as we still don’t have a functioning hydrogen market. Except, that is, if we look at hydrogen as an industrial gas for conventional applications (welding, medicine, etc.). Preparations are underway, however, by H2Global to set up a trading platform that will enable hydrogen to be bought and sold in large quantities in a similar way to how the European Energy Exchange operates.

It’s also true that we don’t yet have a market for electrolyzers or fuel cells. Unless, of course, you count the hitherto low production volumes and capacities. This is essentially negligible in view of the quantities and capacities that we will potentially need. Hopefully we’ll be able to report on the latest sales and installation figures in the February 2024 edition of H2-international.

Even in the mobility sector, sales are still extremely modest, which is why no real acceleration of the market can be assumed before 2025. That said, this will only initially affect the commercial vehicle sector, i.e., hydrogen trucks and buses. In all probability, hydrogen automobiles will only be produced and sold in significant quantities at the end of the decade – if that does indeed happen at all. It will take even longer for rail vehicles, ships and airplanes.

The outlook, however, is clear: As the world shifts increasingly away from fossil resources, so renewable energy becomes ever more important. The upshot is that we need a lot more solar power plants and wind turbines. And hydrogen will be essential in bringing this vast quantity of green power to the different energy sectors.

Admittedly, it’s a pretty basic description of the energy transition. Though it does plainly show that hydrogen, far from being just a megatrend, is something that the energy sector simply can’t function without.


Best wishes

Sven Geitmann

Editor of H2-international