After a long wait, the European Commission has approved the first projects of IPCEI Hydrogen. With these Important Projects of Common European Interest, significant progress towards the establishment of a hydrogen economy is to be made. The associated special approval under EU state aid law means that much more funding can be allocated than would otherwise be permitted within Europe. Among the initial are four projects from Germany. More are to follow in the course of the year.
For all those who have been active a little longer in the hydrogen and fuel cell industry, it will be like déjà vu when they arrive at f-cell on October 4th, 2022. They will be walking from the S-Bahn station or airport to the Stuttgart fairgrounds, and not, as in previous years, to the Haus der Wirtschaft. And this very move – from the Stuttgart city center to the airport – has already been made once before, in 2008. At that time, however, still under the direction of Peter Sauber.
Thirty-two students from TU Berlin university have set themselves the ambitious task of building a renewables-powered boat by spring 2023 and racing it in the 10th edition of the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge. So far they only have a 4-inch (10-centimeter) model of its two hulls. By June next year they intend to have a seaworthy catamaran complete with electric power system.
Here’s a sobering statistic: Out of a total of 10 hydrogen living labs, only five have actually been rolled out. Peter Altmaier, economy minister in the previous German government, had enthused grandiosely about the practical relevance of the projects he was supporting and went to great lengths to rebut any criticism of them. Even during the selection process, a fair number of voices could be heard complaining that the time for demos had passed. And yet Altmaier used the full force of his authority and sailed on. Today the reality is that the majority of these field trials have yet to swing into action, hampered by excessive bureaucracy and onerous conditions.
So far, H2 has comprised only a tiny slice of the German gas grid. And the suitability of increasing this share to up to 30 percent is currently only being tested within the framework of individual, time-limited demonstration projects. H2 “micronets,” that is city districts or regions running 100 percent on hydrogen, are yet to exist. But Lennart Lohaus has recently demonstrated that H2-based solutions can already be economically attractive today. As part of his master thesis, he developed an optimization model for designing regenerative supply solutions with hydrogen as energy carrier for the coal district Rheinisches Revier.
The kickstart for Enginius could hardly have turned out better. On May 16th, 2022, Faun Umwelttechnik GmbH & Co. KG introduced its new brand to the public in Bremen, and only two weeks later, the vehicle manufacturer from Niedersachsen was presented the first ever H2Eco Award during Hannover Messe. At the same time as the industrial fair, the subsidiary of the Faun Group also made a splash at IFAT 2022, the world-leading trade fair for environmental technologies, in Munich from May 30th to June 3rd.
The idea of carmakers running their own car sharing enterprises has been around for years. But an insurance company leasing hydrogen-powered trucks is something completely new. Indeed at first glance the plans put forward by hylane, a subsidiary of German insurer DEVK (historically an insurance fund for railroad employees), seem rather unconventional. During the course of the company’s press conference on April 11, 2022, however, the partners involved made it clear that unusual times occasionally call for unusual measures. The same applies to the H2 Delivery brand which began marketing its rental concept in December 2021.
On May 12th, 2022, German transport minister Dr. Volker Wissing set off the next round of the HyLand program. Representatives from each of the 15 HyStarter and HyExpert Regions came to Berlin to hear the funding decisions from the ministry for transport and digital infrastructure (Bundesministerium für Digitales und Verkehr, BMDV). In addition, Wissing announced another call for HyPerformer Regions – also for this year.
The discussion about rising energy prices is taking on ever greater dimensions. Now, German economic minister Robert Habeck wants to grant the German competition regulation agency (Bundeskartellamt) new rights. Swift to oppose such alleged unconstitutionality is not only Handelsverband Deutschland (the general association for commerce in Germany).
There it was again – Hannover Messe. Although significantly smaller than before the corona pandemic, there was great relief on both the presenter and visitor side that the industry show from May 30 to June 2, 2022 could take place in person. The Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe event was very lively and busy at times – especially on the Tuesday and Wednesday. A sure sign that hydrogen will play a truly important role in industry as well as energy supply in the future. Otherwise, the view of Hannover Fairgrounds was rather dismal.