A pioneer who turned passion into business: An interview with Nilsson Energy

A pioneer who turned passion into business: An interview with Nilsson Energy

© Nilsson Energy

“Being a pioneer is all about sticking your neck out, taking calculated risks and acting accordingly. Making the impossible, possible,” says retired Swedish engineer Hans-Olof Nilsson (pictured left), a pioneer who has turned his passion into a business.

That passion is to provide the market with plug and play, tailor-made renewable energy solutions, a path forward that Nilsson Energy continues to carve today as a one-stop-shop and provider of complete commercial off-grid energy solutions.

It all started with Nilsson – a retired engineer from the refrigeration industry – investing his own capital into developing his 5,400 sq. ft family home near Gothenburg in Sweden into a state of the art off-grid villa back in 2015. Now used as the company’s demo site, the house, powered by the sun, has so far hosted more than 4300 visitors. Solar energy is stored in batteries and hydrogen (H2) gas, securing long-term storage. By using fuel cell technology to convert hydrogen gas to electricity and heat, the household is completely self-sufficient, even when sunshine is scarce. The house generates 3,000Nm3 of hydrogen from its 23kWp of solar panels.

With the introduction of Nilsson Energy, his passion has developed into supplying commercial customers with renewable energy solutions, hence the name of the product range – Renewable Energy 8760 or RE8760 for short. But this is more than a business case alone, Nilsson Energy is clearly breaking new ground in an adventure in societal sustainability too.

Product range

Nilsson Energy is a fast-growing game-changing system integrator of complete on-site, off-grid, emission free renewable energy systems, including large-scale storage of energy in hydrogen.
Established in 2017, the company is initially focussing on creating a solid market footprint in its home market, Sweden. It is experiencing very strong customer interest from a variety of geographical markets, from the Middle East, to Asia and Africa and lately also Australia.

“There is clearly a great demand for and an interest from customers of on-site energy solutions from a system solution provider like Nilsson Energy. We are very dedicated to the opportunity and feel that we are filling an important and highly relevant gap in the value-chain,” Martina Wettin, Nilsson Energy’s Marketing and PR Director, told H2 View.

© Nilsson Energy – The Mariestad ElectriVillage energy facility powering a pioneering future blueprint.

“The company targets commercial customers and we are looking for co-operation with industry partners such as technology companies, energy companies as well as commercial energy consumers of scale,” Wettin, also a Partner in the company, explained. “The customers are likely to be situated in areas where availability and reliability of locally produced renewable energy is highly sought after for all the 8760 hours that make out a year. Nilsson Energy´s product range is branded RE8760 and will always be customised to suit the individual customer energy profile and pre-requisites.”

A Nilsson Energy system produces both hydrogen and oxygen. Oxygen, produced locally by renewable energy, can be used by the medical industry and other industries such as food processing and welding.

“We have the ‘recipe’ for harvesting solar and wind energy, adding water and building completely self-sufficient energy system solutions for all types of energy consumers…”

A Nilsson Energy RE8760 system solution consists of well proven and commercialised technology and can be remotely monitored. The system can be packaged in containers and is modular and scalable for the situation where gradual upscaling is of interest. A risk assessment will always be conducted and permit given by the local rescue service to the customer implementing a RE8760 solution.

“Nilsson Energy uses solar and/or wind power, add water and create a chosen level of off-grid, on-site and emission free plug-and-play energy solutions via electrolyser, battery storage and long-term storage in hydrogen. When additional energy is needed the stored hydrogen is converted to electricity and heat via fuel-cell technology. RE8760 can use any water supply available and can also bring water to site creating closed system solutions should this be required. A RE8760 system also produces oxygen when spitting water into hydrogen and oxygen creating yet a valuable resource for its customer,” Wettin said.

Projects

Last year, Nilsson Energy won a contract in November to build an independent off-grid hydrogen production plant connected to an existing hydrogen fuelling station in an equally pioneering village called Mariestad, in Sweden. The contract also includes building a solar park, whose solar energy constitutes the fuel for the system.

Working together with municipality of the Mariestad and energy company VänerEnergi, this is the world’s first solar-powered hydrogen refuelling station that is off-grid and available to the general public. Described as a ‘proud moment’ for the company, the station and solar park was successfully inaugurated on 28th May (2019), with several hundred children, men and women in attendance and the cord officially cut by Mayor Abrahamson.

Nilsson said, “We have the ‘recipe’ for harvesting solar and wind energy, adding water and building completely self-sufficient energy system solutions for all types of energy consumers. Being the first in the world contracted to build an off-grid hydrogen fuelling station ‘fed’ by the sun is obviously fun and important.”

It was an important development indeed, underscoring its societal significance as much as its business potential. Mariestad has received lots of well-deserved attention for its bold climate action and just days before the inauguration of its hydrogen station, it led a delegation to Warrnambool in Australia to explore emission-free energy solutions – a delegation that Nilsson Energy was part of. “We are so proud to be part of connecting the world through emission free energy solutions including energy storage in hydrogen,” Wettin added.

© Nilsson Energy

Nilsson Energy is also working with the Swedish municipality of Vårgårda to add its RE8760 technology to a number of blocks of flats being refurbished to tackle energy inefficient housing estates. The flats will in future produce emission-free energy via solar technology, with the storage of excess energy in hydrogen enabling the provision of electricity and heat for the next winter.

Future

So with such a prominent role to play in a bold, emission-free future, and a business case that is evidently garnering much attention, what do the years ahead hold for Nilsson Energy?

“We want to scale globally and rapidly together with industrial partners,” Wettin replied. “Our core business objectives include being a highly respected and solid energy system integrator for off-grid stationary applications, peak-shaving and redundancy. We will also aim to scale globally, starting with mature hydrogen markets.”

Delivering against these objectives has resulted in a busy few months for the company. In addition to its visit to Australia and the big moment of inauguration at Mariestad, Nilsson Energy has emboldened its team with the appointment of Adrian Holmgren as a new Technical Project Manager supporting Hans-Olof Nilsson (Technical Director), bringing with him experience from the wind power industry.

The company was also at the Hannover Messe trade fair in Germany in April, as part of the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Europe exhibition, showcasing its technologies and spreading the word of renewable energy solutions, with Nilsson himself present at the event. “We are still not seeing many system integrators that can match what we do, but a large interest in H2 solutions which is good! We have learned so much from the operation of our own demo-house and we now have a really good recipe to follow when tailor-making system solutions for our customers. The fact that we also provide service and maintenance agreements for a complete system solution also makes us stick out from the crowd.”

And if Nilsson could leave H2 View readers with one key message, we ask, what would that be? He concludes, “We want all to understand that using the sun and wind for emission free enery solutions is as simple as this. You might not be able to go all the way immediately taking you operation completely off-grid but you can take control of your energy production to some degree and by doing so adding a valuable fossil free contribution.”


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