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Hannover Messe

Deutsche Messe AG


Group Exhibit H2/FC 2009 Breaking news

Day 1 – Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Group Exhibit 2009, Hannover Fair

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the flowers are starting to open their faces for another year so of course this could only mean that is time to lock ourselves away again for an entire week in Hall 13 at the Hannover Fair.

The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Group Exhibit seems to have once again grown in floor space with a good mix of companies from micro-companies, such as Bac2, right up to global multinationals such as BASF.

Arriving mid morning it was interesting to see that whilst footfall was definitely slow all the companies that I have spoken too have said that already business has been brisk. The German presence is somewhat overwhelming with 91 of the 148 exhibitors being listed as German but this is perhaps unsurprising taking into account not only its location and lack of issue with exchange rates but also critically the relative strength of the German fuel cell industry as compared with any other EU country.

This morning was my chance to finally get to meet the people behind SFC Smart Fuel Cell, one of the industries leading lights. This one company has sold and shipped 13,024 DMFC units in an increasing array of markets. Interestingly for me off-grid power is one of them. I say interestingly as this proto-trend has been bubbling under for about a year or so now and Fuel Cell Today have noticed an increasing numbers of companies flirting with this concept but very few actually selling and shipping product. SFC Smart have developed, alongside udomi a solar / fuel cell hybrid and have been selling and shipping turn-key systems during the past year and have started to build real traction in this area. The systems are scalable and when designed in from the start can provide the bridging gap needed from just a solar system. Although the fuel cell is one of the key cost components of the unit the prices quoted are not excessive when you take into account the value added that they represent. Alongside this SFC Smart have a number of other of their commercial products on view, from surveillance monitoring equipment being used as track side monitoring on railway lines, to delivery bikes being used by the German post office. The later of these is just one of the vehicles available in the ride-and-drive area outside. The only problem when you get out there to try the vehicles is that riding in this lovely weather on a power assisted bike is just really good fun and it is very hard to get off and come back into an air conditioned hall! More from SFC Smart in the full write up.

After lunch I managed to catch a presentation by Phil Doran of CoreTech fame. Phil is a well known, and respected, speaker on all issues to do with the finance sector and fuel cells and as always it is was interesting to listen to him talk about what he sees as failures of finance mechanisms in Europe. Phil’s point, if I paraphrase this right, is that the European industry is dominated by micro companies that have no revenue or cash flow. As they have no, or little revenue, accessing finance mechanisms such as EU funding, which requires matched funding, is impossible. Also as they have no capital they cannot gain access to the debt markets. When asked what model, or idea, he would like to see replicated he suggested something like a scaled up Carbon Trust (UK) which could be used to finance companies who are in such an early stage of development. It was very interesting to watch the reaction to his presentation as there is obviously often a disconnect between the finance industry and the fuel cell industry.

One of the other clear trends, even from Day 1, is the mushrooming of interest in high-temp PEMs with companies such as Bac2, Plug Power and BASF here promoting their high-temp products.

Earlier in the week Bac2 press released that they are now selling bipolar plates for high-temp PEM stacks. Within the last month the new bipolar plate has been out of cell tested up to 250 degrees C with stable results, with the operating temp expected to be around 200 degrees C. In terms of shipments the company reports that the first order has already taken place but cannot give any hints as to where. One point they were at pains to make is that they developed a bipolar plate and have not done any in-house high-temp stack testing.

Earlier in the week BASF also press released a new high-temp PEM membrane to be launched at the Fair. Unfortunately we cannot provide any more details on this as FCT was told that they would be unavailable to speak to us.

Other companies which I spoke with today include Greenlight Innovations and ICI Caldaie who are making a 30kWe PEM CHP unit. More on both of these companies in the full event report.

View the online documentation from HANNOVER MESSE 2008!



Tobias Renz FAIR • Tel: +49 (0)30 609 84 556 • email: info@h2fc-fair.com / Legal Notice / Cookie Policy