The Hannover event on the 17th of September was well co-organised by the Solvay Company. It comprised a presentation with discussions, a VIP panel discussion with prominent representatives from industry and politics and a public ride&drive event.
In the past, Hannover and the State of Lower Saxony did not stick out specifically on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Thus, the participants were keen to learn about future plans and strategies.
The presentations provided valuable guidance on how to kick start activities and join e.g. the cities of Berlin and Hamburg or the states of Northrhine Westfalia and Hessia in their ongoing hydrogen and fuel cell strategies.
It was well received by the audience that both the City of Hannover and the state of Lower Saxony announced to be open for upcoming demonstration projects. They were also applauded for their commitment to establish one or further more hydrogen refuelling stations for fuel cell vehicle refuelling, as part of the Government’s 50 stations plan by 2015, as well as the insight that hydrogen as vehicle fuel will profit from synergies with hydrogen for large scale renewable electricity storage.
Hannover preconditions for Hydrogen
Here follows statements highlighting some of the interesting discussions that took place during the day. It shows that Hannover has the will and the potential to ramp up the hydrogen efforts and become a major hydrogen centre.
In the Cologne area up to 1000 fuel cell buses can be operated on cheap surplus hydrogen from chemical processes, which is otherwise just burnt for heating together with natural gas, thus offering an intelligent and economic early introduction strategy.
Ingredients of a successful region initiative to foster fuel cell and hydrogen commercialization are a “2+2 approach”. This means two local facilitators, cooperating closely (with staff in addition) and, at least, two demonstration projects (but not five) for a three-year period (until early commercialization).
Multiple synergies between different technologies or structural approaches need to be uncovered in the coming years of energy transition; for example the use of hydrogen as vehicle fuel and large scale energy storage (Power to Gas), the use of refuelling infrastructure to supply road (cars, trucks and buses), rail and air transport (increased infrastructure utilization), the development of PEM fuel cell technology in conjunction with the development of PEM electrolysis (scaling effect).
Hannover could actually become one of the major German hydrogen hubs, H2R – Hanover Hydrogen Region, as Lower Saxony boasts ample wind energy potentials, geologic structures for storing hydrogen underground at large scale, large automotive as well as it supplies maritime industry.
A majority of kilometres driven with passenger cars in Germany today are in long distance driving. If greenhouse gas emissions should be decreased decisively, we need to do this with cars that are capable to drive long distance. With e-mobility this will only be possible with fuel cells and hydrogen.
In most fuel cell vehicles’ drive systems only few components originate from Europe today. If Europe in the future is to play a vital industrial role in this industry sector, besides systems integration, then one strategy must be to foster European value creation, and hence, strengthen an industrial knowledge and manufacturing basis.