f-cell: Are we actually moving fast enough?

f-cell: Are we actually moving fast enough?

Day two of f-cell is underway in Stuttgart, Germany, as H2 View continues its coverage of one of the oldest international hydrogen and fuel cell trade events.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020, f-cell is year being held in hybrid style with around 500 members of the hydrogen and fuel cell community attending in person at the grand 19th Century Haus der Wirtschaft, as well as participants also tuning in from around the world virtually amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. David Hart, Director of E4tech, was the first speaker of day two. Under his presentation title A hydrogen wave is building. Can fuel cells surf it?, Hart discussed exactly how the industry is progressing through a number of strategies, announcements and technologies and the role fuel cells are playing, or need to play.

“This is the most exciting period that I have seen in my 25 years in the industry but nevertheless, I think we need to be cautious; we need to be careful that we don’t get over excited and we need to build the platform,” he enthused.

Whilst introducing E4 Tech, an international consulting firm with UK and Switzerland-based offices, Hart referred to its annual ‘Fuel Cell Industry Review’, which gathers primary data from fuel cell producers, reporting it has been “a good period” and that there has been “continued growth.”

“We’ve heard a lot of fantastic announcements. We heard a lot of things yesterday, and I think what we are seeing is not just announcements and strategies, but also something that is starting to build into reality,” Hart said.

He then went on to highlight some of the positive strategies that have been recently released and discussed, showcasing the positive change: “We now have strategies in the US, the Netherlands, Germany, we have Japanese strategies that are being updated and recently, Portugal.”

“There is a lot of aspiration out there and we see that the plans are in place. Nevertheless, there is a very common thread to all of this, the country strategies are about hydrogen.”

“Every now and then, fuel cells are mentioned. They come down somewhere perhaps in the supply chain or in the heavy-duty side of transport, but the message is about energy transformation, it’s about renewables and decarbonisation.”

“There is also a limited focus on light-duty vehicles. Of course, we’ve heard the Hyundai and Honda are powering ahead, but there is limited activity.”

“Another thing that intrigues me is that we are also seeing hydrogen combustion come back into the frame. Not only turbines, which I think make a lot of sense, but also internal combustion engines.”

“However, the question I have to ask myself is, are we actually moving fast enough? Do we have enough critical mass in the supply chain to be able to count on the fact that fuel cells will be part of the solution? I think they will, I see a lot of positive momentum, but I don’t think we can be complacent.”

Coronavirus

In a change to the usual f-cell programme, Roger Spindler, of Future Day, discussed future developments regarding society, education, the business world and new media, and all in the context of coronavirus, in an hour-long presentation.

“During this time we must look more closely even if we prefer to close our eyes. Of course we have to talk about coronavirus, but not just about coronavirus,” he began.

Highlighting three recent news stories that caught global attention, Spindler said, “In mid-August, Russia approved a coronavirus vaccine before the testing programme had been completed.”

“On a Friday afternoon – 29th August at 3pm – in Silicon Valley, an unusual time to attract global attention, but if your name happens to be Elon Musk then other rules apply. Musk presented not a new Tesla but his Neuralink brain implant.”

“Also Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, and at the moment I think the richest man on Earth by dimensions that are unimaginable. If Jeff Bezos gave each of his Amazon employees a bonus of lets say $105,000, his fortune will be exactly the same as before the coronavirus pandemic. His fortune has increased during this six months to $92bn. Quite honestly this begs the question whether it should be necessary to have a special tax for those who benefit from the crisis.”

Moving on to talk about coronavirus, Spindler said at Future Day, they started a non representative survey asking ‘Who wants to go back to the pre-corona time?’

“Surprisingly, 60% said no we don’t want to go back. At the time before corona everything was full of uncertainty, we had fear, we new something unknown was approaching, we knew that it couldn’t go on as before and then suddenly a reality comes over us that shocks us, that drove us into fear and out of this fear came a new and surprising experience,” he said

“Many people have described it like the corona of the sun, when something is covered up, and then suddenly a new and strange freedom arises. We can suddenly perceive things we couldn’t see before, for example how important human relationships are, how deeply we are connected with other people and nature. The virus has made us realise that we are always, and we will be always, a part of nature. A short change of perspective.”

Concluding his talk, Spindler said, “One needs a very good map to venture into the new world. But the old business model has lost a connection to the society and to our world. We are actually present here and now at the end of an era. After the crisis, the manager as we know it will no longer be the same. A new generation of creators and doers will be formed in the fire of the crisis.”


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