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Hydrogen and fuel cells gaining ground in Germany

Published by , Assistant Editor
Energy Global,

According to HANNOVER MESSE, one of the big questions facing automakers currently is where the power for their electric vehicles (EVs) should come from. In Germany, hydrogen and fuel cell technology is an increasingly strong contender in this regard, and the country's political leaders are starting to put the necessary programs in place. The northern states of Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Hamburg and Lower Saxony, have adopted a ‘North German Hydrogen Strategy’. HANNOVER MESSE has a showcase dedicated to these issues: ‘Hydrogen + Fuel Cells’.

The North German Hydrogen Strategy includes a number of very ambitious goals. For example, it aims to have at least 500 MW of electrolysis capacity installed in Germany's high-wind northern regions by 2025, rising sharply to at least 5 GW by 2030. 500 MW would be enough to supply some 150 000 EVs with clean, green hydrogen. However, industry experts caution that it would take about 250 hydrogen refuelling stations to achieve anything like a seamless supply network.

HANNOVER MESSE's Hydrogen + Fuel Cells showcase has a part to play as an incubator of technological inspiration and initiatives for the ongoing development of a hydrogen economy.

Among the exhibitors at the showcase will be H2 Mobility Deutschland, a joint venture between Air Liquide, Daimler, Linde, OMV, Shell and TOTAL tasked with rolling out hydrogen refuelling stations in Germany. Linde, a global manufacturer of industrial gases, is involved in a number of refuelling infrastructure activities in addition to the ones it will be co-presenting at HANNOVER MESSE 2020. For example, it recently stepped up its involvement in the production of hydrogen using electrolysers. This involved acquiring a stake in UK-based fuel cell specialist ITM Power with a view to jointly building an electrolyser factory in Sheffield, UK. The two companies have plans to build electrolysers with capacities of 10 MW, and have their sights set on developing a mass-producible 5 MW module.

Germany's Bosch and Sweden's Powercell also have a joint venture. They will be bringing fresh optimism to the fuel-cell scene when they exhibit at Hydrogen + Fuel Cells in Hall 27.

There is a strong realisation that a greater use of EV's, whether battery or hydrogen-powered, only makes sense if they are based on renewable energy sources.

On the other hand, the statistics from Germany's Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) are somewhat sobering. They show that of the 47 million passenger cars on Germany's roads at the start of 2020, only about 83 000 had electric propulsion (that includes battery and fuel cell-powered vehicles, plug-in hybrids and related technologies). But if the EU is actually going to meet its CO2 reduction targets, Germany will need to have 7-10.5 million EVs on its roads by 2030.

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