10 years NOW - Fuel cell - quo vadis?

The German hydrogen and fuel cell organisation (National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology – NOW GmbH) – the organisation tasked by the German Government to promote and support the comprehensive introduction of the fuel cell technology into the market - celebrated its tenth anniversary this month. Time to recap...

When NOW was launched in 2008, its mission entirely focused on the successful market preparation and activation of the hydrogen and fuel cell technology, from stationary to mobile applications. Multiple support activities and light tower programs were launched, coordinated and successfully delivered.

According to Dr. Klaus Bonhoff, MD of NOW GmbH, a critical recap of the so called NIP1 program revealed that for each publically funded Euro, 3-4 Euros of private investments were triggered.

A real success story? Definitely yes, but…

Klaus also mentions in his speech at the 10 years anniversary of the NOW organisation that it became quickly quite clear that the scope of the mission has to be expanded to cover the full spectrum from sustainable power generation, energy storage & transport to consumption, including the fast changing logistics and mobility sector.
What a complex task!

In my view, it is no surprise that we are not done yet. In fact, to successfully deliver a competitive system solution we need to pick up even more pace, truly involve all stakeholders, from politics to industry and science and coordinate the innovation process alongside the full value chain between public and private sector.

In the end, we will have a wide range of technical solutions with no “one size fits all approach”. In my opinion, full battery electric, hybrid and full fuel cell solutions will co-exist, developed by the industry and carefully selected by customers to deliver the best and most seamless solution for them.

A great example for this required portfolio of solutions is the leisure boating industry. The electrification of this market segment will definitely pick up pace with stricter environmental regulations being implemented for lakes, rivers and fjords. The early success of Torqeedo and other battery electric propulsion system providers to power ultra-light and small boats prove existing market demand. However, a pure battery electric solution to power for example wakeboard boats will not be sufficient. Or who wants to have fun for 1h per day only? Great opportunity for Humphry Marine and its battery–fuel cell–hybrid power train solution….

Rainer Hönig
August 2018
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