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Let’s start with hydrogen. As we said last year, the increased availability of low-cost renewables – coupled with pressure on local and CO2 emissions – is helping major corporations consider hydrogen as part of their serious big-picture, long-term option for remaining in business. Political interest is rising: a European Hydrogen Initiative was signed by Energy Ministers in Linz during the Austrian Presidency of the EU; Mission Innovation has added a Renewable and Clean Hydrogen Innovation Challenge to its portfolio; Tokyo hosted the first Hydrogen Energy Ministerial; and a senior Chinese official reiterated the logic of China’s commitments. Hydrogen is, of course, a very useful input to many fuel cells, and increasing belief in its potential is strongly driving interest in fuel cells. While we retain our focus on fuel cells for this review, we include a brief overview of electrolyser developments, a sector where we’re also very active.
Fuel cells themselves have made good progress. In addition to transport sales, stationary systems – many not using hydrogen – roll off production lines, and total industry shipments continue to rise. But although shipments are up slightly on 2017, the main progress in 2018 was in the development of underpinning strength. Costs are coming down, the supply chain is just starting to firm up. Investment is flowing into the industry, and big companies are building positions. As an indicator, established automotive supply-chain players like ElringKlinger, Michelin, Bosch and Plastic Omnium are continuing to quietly and steadily develop capacity, while pure-play fuel cell companies like Plug Power, Ceres Power, Hydrogenics and FuelCell Energy are seeing tens of millions of dollars of investment from public markets or industrial partners.
The industry overall shipped about 4,000 more units than 2017, an increase of 145 MW. Total power shipped was just over 800 MW – 74,000 units. Two-thirds or so were in Japan, where Ene-farm has remained a stable market, and Toyota’s continued lead in vehicle shipments – another 3,000 or so Mirais were put into customer hands – means that Japan is well situated on the supply side. A little over 11,000 transport units were put into the market in total. Big stationary systems are also rolling out, with the US policy scene more supportive and Bloom Energy successfully going public. Doosan’s investments in manufacturing and deployment are paying off, with increasing numbers of PAFC systems on the ground, and solid orders looking forward to 2019. PEM remains the dominant chemistry, certainly for transport, though both DMFC and SOFC variants of vehicle systems are under development. SOFC is making good headway in stationary systems for Ene-farm, and is increasingly considered sufficiently mature for large, commercial-scale products.
Companies like Ceres Power and SolidPower are well positioned. Last year’s Review highlighted the importance of China in the fuel cell dynamic. That remains, both in the insatiable demand for technology and skills transfer, and the potential for Chinese supply chain companies to come in and disrupt existing positions. Most non-Chinese companies have an eye on China, an alliance in China, or a fear of China. But lack of infrastructure coupled with problems licencing vehicles have led to slower roll-out than anticipated, negatively affecting both local developers and their overseas counterparts such as Ballard and Hydrogenics.
The real extent of this is hard to gauge: the situation moves very fast, and reported ‘facts’ are inconsistent and difficult to check. But we have seen dozens of trucks parked in lots, seemingly awaiting the chance to operate, and Foton is parking buses on roads around Beijing as they await the opportunity to put them into service. And stationary fuel cells are not really on the Chinese radar – a few companies have offerings in backup power or are developing other systems, but policy support is absent. This may all be simply symptomatic of what many consider China’s approach to new technology, putting large amounts of money into many players in a chosen industry and seeing how things turn out. Or it may show the inherent weakness and complexity of the sector. We tend to the former view, having seen very credible and ambitious systems developers – Re-Fire is a good example – and increasing capabilities in component supply.
Although most indigenous technology is not yet technically competitive with overseas sources, it will be soon. The Chinese story remains mainly one of heavyduty applications. The buses and trucks mentioned above are only part of bigger fleets, with several hundred vehicles operating full commercial services in Shanghai and other regions. Trains and light rail generally are of interest too. And outside China, heavy-duty is of increasing interest. Nikola and Hyundai are moving forward on ambitious plans for trucks, initially in the US and Switzerland; Alstom has successfully started operating hydrogen passenger trains in Germany; the marine sector is gearing up. Poor air quality in cities is leading politicians to ban polluting vehicles – and in some cases forcing new ones to be zero emission. Pure battery vehicles cannot cover all the route, load and refuelling requirements and so fuel cells are seen by many as essential for trucks to maintain a place in the delivery infrastructure. Buses are following a similar path, with far more deployed than trucks, and an upswell of interest that has manufacturers struggling to keep up with demand. What surprised us in 2018 was the dramatic re-emergence of Korea.
In 2017’s Review we mentioned that the Government was taking a renewed interest, and Hyundai has been bullish for many years. But the scale of some of the announcements has been impressive. An ongoing push for stationary systems was expected, but Hyundai’s announcement of 1,000 trucks for Switzerland over the coming few years, followed by a similar-sized programme for buses in Korea to 2022, and then the year-end commitment to scale car production to 40,000 units has set some stretch targets for other companies to match.
In fact, Hyundai seems so convinced that it has articulated its ‘FCEV Vision 2030’: moving Hyundai beyond transportation into other sectors, and producing 700,000 FC units annually by 2030. From our perspective, 2018 has been a great year, and a difficult one. The news has come in thick and fast – so much so that sometimes we have struggled to keep up. We greatly missed the perception and writing of Bob Rose, a founding member of our team, who passed away before he could see this 5th anniversary edition of the Review. Nevertheless, as the industry grows, we will continue to gather and publish these statistics. We’ll do our best to stay on top of the most important developments, and continue to support the industry through this and through our various consulting engagements. We look forward to the challenge.
The Hydrogen + Fuel Cells EUROPE is Europe’s largest and most important H2+FC exhibition dating back to 1995. This 5 000 m² large exhibition area is located in the Energy trade fair of HANNOVER MESSE and thus puts its participants at the center of the world’s largest event for industrial technology. Discover the many advantages this international platform has to offer!
200 exhibitors from 20 countries
International corporations, SMEs and research institutions showcase the full spectrum of hydrogen and fuel cell-related technology and batteries: stationary, mobile and portable fuel cells, components, fuel cell applications, test systems, hydrogen production, transport, storage and infrastructure, reformers and more.
Essential business connections
Founded by Arno A. Evers in 1995, this 25-year-old business platform is the primary location for finding top manufacturers, distributors, consultants, developers and suppliers. The worldwide leaders in the fields of materials, components, infrastructure, testing and research come to Hanover. High-ranking politicians and investors also frequent this reputed expo every year.
Networking, networking, networking
Profit from four networking evenings together with hundreds of H2+FC representatives. After the daily business rush, get to know your fellow exhibitors better over a charming dinner at the center of the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells EUROPE.
Meet personally with your customers and guests in our comfortable lounge areas and meeting rooms. Food and beverages are included!
Attract interested visitors and potential customers through a 20-minute interview or technical presentation at our Public or Technical Forum.
Reap the benefits of double promotion through the HANNOVER MESSE and the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells EUROPE. A personalized webpage with your logo, company and product info, contact, pictures and videos will inform visitors and increase business opportunities.
Profit from the unique atmosphere of the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells EUROPE with its networking evenings, forums and established community. Your exhibit’s success is our top priority. Tobias Renz FAIR will personally attend to all your questions before, during and after the fair. Exhibiting is made easy with our complete booth building and many helpful services. Ideally located in the giant Energy sector of HANNOVER MESSE, H2+FC exhibitors profit from multiple interrelated energy industries. Around 200 000 visitors from around the globe attend HANNOVER MESSE each year. Use this platform to make new contacts outside your normal line of work and discover the potential for business growth. This impressive 200 000 m² expo with over 5 000 exhibitors is the ideal place to obtain the latest industrial know-how.
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