"In Transition" Blog
The Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association's "In Transition" blog explores the role and benefits of fuel cells and hydrogen energy for commercial sectors in transition to a more economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable future. Fuel cells and hydrogen energy are impacting and disrupting business-as-usual and present an opportunity for continued growth and development. The scalability, reliability, and durability of these technologies benefit a wide-range of applications for transportation, stationary, and portable uses.
Blog posts are shared every other Monday, so be sure to check back every two weeks!
Since we last covered fuel cell shipping propulsion in October of 2018, there has been tremendous progress in previously reported projects, and significant new efforts have been announced. Here’s a breakdown of all that’s happened.
Since hydrogen fuel cell-powered rail, or hydrail, was last covered on the “In Transition” blog in October 2018, previously reported projects have progressed, and significant new projects have been announced.
Various corporate actors are introducing fuel cell-powered medium- and heavy-duty vehicles into their commercial fleets as a way to increase sustainability. Whether operating entirely on a fuel cell powertrain or in combination with lithium-ion batteries, these vehicles demonstrate the strengths of using hydrogen to power deliveries and long-distance transportation.
Fuel cells address several needs in the power generation sphere, with the capacity to scale from individual units to megawatt (MW)-scale installations. Whether fueled by natural gas, biogas, or hydrogen, the power generation technology reduces emissions when compared with coal and other traditional fuels. It also provides a resilient source of energy that keeps critical facilities and infrastructure, such as hospitals and data centers running around the clock.
The material handling industry has moved towards fuel cells because they provide benefits for warehouses, ports and other localized operations. The efficiency of refueling and consistent, reliable power generated from fuel cells simplifies logistical challenges by reducing space requirements and scheduling limitations.
Hydrogen energy storage is a process wherein the surplus of energy created by renewables during low energy demand periods is used to power electrolysis, a process in which an electrical current is passed through a chemical solution in order to separate hydrogen. Once hydrogen is created through electrolysis it can be used in stationary fuel cells, for power generation, to provide fuel for fuel cell vehicles, injected into natural gas pipelines to reduce their carbon intensity, or even stored as a compressed gas, cryogenic liquid or wide variety of loosely-bonded hydride compounds for later use.
Fuel cell and hydrogen technologies are offering a pathway to turn environmental hazards into clean and renewable power instead, including by generating hydrogen, which can then be used in a stationary fuel cell or for other purposes, such as transportation.
The European Union has been instrumental in advancing the deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and have plans to further push the industry towards commercialization. For countries going to great lengths to advance their hydrogen economies, EU programs have provided the assistance necessary for them to achieve their goals.
With significant investments in renewable resource production and a substantial regional market for clean energy, Australia and New Zealand share a potential to greatly develop their hydrogen and fuel cell industries.
The Northern European nations of Scandinavia, which include Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland, have been at the leading edge of energy efficiency and decarbonization efforts throughout the 21st century. Working alongside industry leaders and the European Union’s (EU) Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), Scandinavian countries have been taking steps to further incorporate hydrogen and fuel cell technology into their energy profiles.
While the luster of hydrogen may have dulled after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Canada has since renewed its efforts at promoting a clean and sustainable energy future through widespread government collaboration with the country’s hydrogen and fuel cell industries.
As France looks to transition to cleaner and more renewably-sourced energy, fuel cells and hydrogen have become prominent technologies, and through government policy and industry innovation, they are helping to advance both France and Europe’s progress to clean energy.
Germany has certainly fulfilled its first objective of positioning themselves as international leaders in fuel cell and hydrogen energy. With the third-largest funding program for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, Germany is in an opportune position to further commercialize fuel cell and hydrogen technology in 2019 and beyond.
The prospects for a clean and sustainable energy future in Japan continue to increase as both the government and many private sector companies further their commitments to hydrogen and fuel cells. Japan’s vision is that fuel cells, as a power source for several modes of transportation, as well as stationary and mobile applications, will allow the country to diversify and strengthen its energy infrastructure.
In the past few years, South Korea has emerged as a strong proponent of fuel cells and hydrogen energy. Between supportive government ventures and innovation from local industry, the country is positioned to become a global leader in fuel cell technology.
In her June 21, 2017 speech to Parliament, Queen Elizabeth II announced that her government would introduce an “Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill”. In the year and a half since the bill’s introduction, the country’s hydrogen and fuel cell industry has seen some impressive developments. Here are some recent updates in the UK, in both the transportation and stationary power sectors.
To meet the ambitious CO2 emissions reductions goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, the Chinese government has invested heavily in clean and renewable energy in recent years. As part of this strategic goal, China has started to play a significant role in manufacturing and deploying hydrogen fuel cell technologies.
This week’s In Transitions discusses how hydrogen fuel cells can help ensure crucial signaling and communications equipment for railroads, motorways, and other transportation networks stay up and running when natural disasters and other emergencies shut down the electric grid.
While unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology has advanced substantially, fuel cells and hydrogen energy have shown that further improvements can be made to performance, efficiency, and run time.
Docked ships also contribute greatly to greenhouse gas emissions at ports by using auxiliary diesel power systems. Just as zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells can replace greenhouse gas-emitting power sources for ships at sea, they can also serve as an excellent Alternative Maritime Power source to keep ship operations on shore green.
The maritime industry’s reliance on fossil fuels extends beyond the water to the shores and ports as well. Fuel cells and hydrogen energy provide the long run time, quick refueling, and quiet, efficient power required to meet the fast-paced and constantly moving demands of ports.
Data centers are an increasingly vital component of today’s digital technology-driven economy. The growth in demand for telecommunications and computing capability has created a need for reliable data management, and with it, a market opportunity for fuel cells.
Fuel cells have begun to enter the APU market and offer the benefits of both diesel and all-electric APUs while mitigating many of the drawbacks. Fuel cells provide quiet, environmentally friendly power as long as a fuel source is available.
As demonstrated in Germany and soon in the UK, fuel cell technology provides a clean and affordable solution to rail electrification.
With increasing pressure for shipping to reduce harmful emissions, fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies are poised to enter these waters and further develop, as projects utilizing hydrogen technology are already under way for ferries and high-speed vessels.
As governments and companies look for ways to decrease their environmental footprint, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is gaining attention as a solution to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Fuel cell technologies are making significant strides to enable CCS commercialization.
This is the 1st installment in our In Transition series where we explore the role and benefits of fuel cells and hydrogen energy for sectors in transition to a more economically and environmentally sustainable future.
We are launching our first post on National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day, observed on Monday, October 8, 2018. Future blog posts will be shared every Monday, so be sure to check back every week!