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Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking launches its 5th call for proposals worth €150 million to support research and demonstration activities in innovative energy technologies

NEW Lofgo

The FCH JU public private partnership with a total budget amounting to nearly €1bn to be invested by 2013, publishes its fifth annual call for proposals today.  With € 77, 5 million, to be matched by in-kind contributions from industry, research organisations and possibly national funds, the FCH JU confirms its dedication to accelerate the market entry of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies. Recognised as able to contribute to the decarbonisation of transport and energy systems, to a more efficient use of energy and renewables sources, as well as to increased energy security, these technologies have the potential to sustain EU competitiveness and job creation in the face of fierce competition from US, Japan Korea and China, in these technologies.

Welcoming the launch of this fifth call, the Chairman of the Governing Board and of the Industry Grouping of the Joint Undertaking, Pierre-Etienne Franc, reiterates:

“European industries and SMEs have emerged as highly credible players in developing and demonstrating fuel cells and hydrogen technologies. Applications such as cars, busses, light duty and material handling vehicles, are technology-ready. To go the extra mile and start deployment of innovative technologies competing with mature ones, can not be purely driven by market forces: pooling public resources on a long term basis is crucial to generating leverage for private investment, the main drive of innovation. Favorable policy orientations and regulations are also vital assets”.

Bert De Colvenaer, Executive Director of the FCH Joint Undertaking, adds: ” the 2012 call will cover real-time demonstration activities to prepare for fuel cell systems market entry with improved technology maturity and cost reduction targets. It will also cover R&D for enhancing systems to meet operational and cost competitiveness requirements or to reduce the time to demonstration and deployment. With a light organisation, we are currently running 70 projects in parallel and will soon reach 100 projects from the 4 previous calls for proposals. To support deployment strategies, the FCH JU is working on studies related to European fuel cells and hydrogen ‘Roll Out’ and commercialisation plans for vehicles, stationary applications, busses and material handling vehicles”.

This call covers 31 topics, split between 5 application areas: transportation and refuelling infrastructure (€ 26 millions); hydrogen production and distribution (€ 8,75 millions); stationary power generation (€ 27 millions); early markets (€ 10, 25 millions) (portable, micro applications or handling vehicles) and cross-cutting issues (€ 5,5 millions) development of life cycle assessment, codes and standards, socio-economic research, public awareness, training.
Nearly 70% of the funding will support transport and refuelling infrastructure and stationary applications topics.
Next steps
The deadline for submission of proposals is 24 May 2012. Evaluation of proposals will be carried out in June 2012 and projects selected for contract negotiations should already be announced by the autumn.
Background
The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking was established on 14 October 2008, until 2013, as the first illustrative example of a public-private partnership instrument under the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan), technology pillar of the EU’s energy and climate policy. Autonomous since 15 November 2010, the FCH JU aims to speed up the development of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies in Europe to enable their commercialisation between 2010 and 2020. Current membership includes the European Commission and 49 companies, from multinationals to SMEs represented by the Industry Grouping (NEW-IG), as well as 61 universities and research institutes, represented by the Research Grouping (N.ERGHY) engaging more than 2000 researchers in the field of fuel cells and hydrogen.
January 17, 2012 - 5:36 PM No Comments

1st Fuel Cell Arrives At New Haven City Hall

by Allan Appel-New Haven Independent

Allan Appel Photo

Allan Appel Photo

Rigging foreman Bob Pineau and his crew were at work at 4:30 Sunday morning preparing to gently drop City Hall’s new fuel cell into place.

With Orange Street closed off to traffic between Elm and Court, the 66,000-pound gas-powered fuel cell was lowered onto Millennium Plaza behind City Hall mid-afternoon.

Pineau and his crew along with their crane, capable of lifting up to 300 tons, had done the job without a hitch.

Click here for a story on how the 400 kilowatt device is designed to free the city from a money-sapping contract for power from the adjacent Connecticut Financial Center.

And here for a story on how the project evolved.

There is a private fuel cell operational two blocks away at 360 State Street, and one at the newly rebuilt Roberto Clemente Leadership Academy. This is the city government proper’s first use of the technology.

According to Giovanni Zinn of the the city’s Office of Sustainability, the fuel cell may save the city up to $1 million in energy costs over a decade. It is being rented over that period from United Technologies.

But first the 66,000-pound cell has to be fully connected. A team of plumbers was also working on connecting some piping Sunday afternoon.

Pineau, whose company is Walker Crane and Rigging in Plainville, said the crane will be back in the coming days to help the crew hoist pipes and other equipment auxiliary to the fuel cell up to the roof of the 200 Orange Street government office building.

The cell, which is the size of small shipping container, is filling the entire plaza and is shrouded in a black tarp that cautions you not to climb on top of it.

As the guys used the powerful crane to hoist the fuel cell into place, they also lifted down the HVAC unit being replaced. For years it has sat on top of the roof of 200 Orange.

Where was it headed now?

“To the scrapyard,” Pineau said. He tightened some straps on the truck that would bear it there and said he was looking forward to getting warm and to watching the Giants beat the Packers.

January 17, 2012 - 9:00 AM No Comments

Hydrogenics Announces Strong Order Intake in Fourth Quarter

Recent Wins Boost Order Backlog by 60% to $28 Million

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario Hydrogenics Corporation (Nasdaq:HYGS) (TSX:HYG), a leading developer and manufacturer of hydrogen generation and fuel cell products, today announced that the Company has received orders, during the fourth quarter of 2011, for electrolyzers totaling approximately $10.8 million. These orders were received from a number of customers located around the globe. The electrolyzers and associated services will be used by food processing facilities, thermal power plants and in metallurgical applications, with delivery currently expected over the next six to twelve months.

“We are pleased to see continued strengthening in our industrial end markets. These recent wins, resulting in an expected order backlog of approximately $28.0 million at December 31, 2011 represent a 60% increase in the value of the order backlog year over year. As we execute our growth strategy, customers are showing their appreciation for our reliability, quality and overall value,” said Daryl Wilson, Hydrogenics President and Chief Executive Officer.

Hydrogenics order backlog calculations are still in the process of being reviewed and are subject to change as part of the year end audit.

ABOUT HYDROGENICS

Hydrogenics Corporation (www.hydrogenics.com) is a globally recognized developer and provider of hydrogen generation and fuel cell products and services, serving the growing industrial and clean energy markets of today and tomorrow. Based in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, Hydrogenics has operations in North America and Europe.

January 17, 2012 - 8:00 AM No Comments

AngloPlat to test fuel-cell powered mine loco March/April

By: Martin Creamer
JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Platinum miner Anglo American Platinum (AngloPlat) expects to put a fuel-cell powered mine locomotive through its paces in the first half of this year.

The locomotive will initially be tested on surface at AngloPlat’s Dishaba mine, which is situated in the Limpopo province.

“Hopefully by March/April, we’ll have a loco on surface that will be fuel-cell based,” Anglo Platinum market development and research head Anthea Bath tells Mining Weekly Online in a video interview.

The point of the demonstration will be to show that fuel-cell powered locomotives can provide superior productivity and zero-emission underground transport.

The locomotives currently run off battery power. Fuel-celled forklift trucks have already gone commercial in the US, replacing battery-powered units.

JSE-listed Amplats is the world’s largest producer of platinum, which is used as a catalyst in fuel cells.

Last year AngloPlat unveiled a pioneering clean-energy fuel-cell power plant that uses coal-bed methane gas from group company Anglo Coal.

The coal-bed methane is reformed into hydrogen, producing both electricity and heat. Efficiencies of up to 83% can be achieved when use is made of both the electricity and the output heat.

Fuel cells are poised to play a role in vehicle and stationary applications worldwide, providing a significant platinum extraction opportunity for the mining industry and a potential manufacturing, installation, maintenance and job-creating opportunity for South African industry in general.

Bath says that a relatively moderate niche penetration of the fuel cells into the huge global energy market is able to drive substantial platinum demand.

Fuel-cell back-up of Amplats’ own intermine communication systems is also being studied, along with fuel-cell powered miners’ caplamps.

AngloPlat is working closely with the South African government to develop the business of fuel cells, which convert the chemical energy from a fuel cell, generally hydrogen, into electricity through a chemical reaction that has water as its byproduct.

All other energy-generating technologies consume rather than generate it, which places fuel cells in a preeminent position as an energy generator in dry regions.

The modular nature of fuel cells facilitates incremental expansion on relatively small footprints.

A R100-million fund has made its first allocation to a US company manufacturing and marketing fuel-cell systems in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

“We are working closely with the South African government to drive fuel cells as a beneficiation opportunity locally. The business case makes sense,” Bath tells Mining Weekly Online.

January 17, 2012 - 7:24 AM No Comments

Hydrogen vehicle makers still look to EU for help

Timothy Spence

Hydrogen vehicles are nimble, quiet and easy on the environment, and auto manufacturers are eyeing a commercial launch within a few years despite a lack of infrastructure for refuelling stations.

But the vehicles that the European Commission has touted for their low emissions are years away from capturing anything more than a niche market.

Sales of hydrogen vehicles in Europe are expected to reach 100,000 by 2015 and 1 million in 2020, and could gain a 25% share of the total EU passenger car market in 2050, says a recent McKinsey & Company report. Today, Europe accounts for one-third of the more than 50 million automobiles manufactured each year across the world.

The Commission is expected to soon roll out new proposals to promote hydrogen and other alternative fuels and transport to reduce vehicle emissions, building on last year’s transport White Paper, which outlined a roadmap for Europe’s future transport system.

Road transport accounts for one-fifth of the EU’s carbon dioxide emissions and is a leading contributor to poor urban air quality.

Industry supporters are eagerly awaiting those plans, arguing that more public involvement is needed to ensure success even in times of austerity.

“We would like to raise our voices significantly to say that we believe that part of the solution to the European rebound lies in effectively investing in those long-term, long-tail solutions”, said Pierre-Etienne Franc, board chairman of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, a public-private partnership.

Robust but infrastructure remains an issue

Hydrogen fuel cells have a number of advantages, according to Commission reports and the industry. The cars are powered from a hydrogen fuel cell that works as a self-contained charger for an electric motor, giving automobiles more power and a longer range than battery-powered electric vehicles while producing little pollution.

For automakers, existing vehicle models can be modified to accommodate hydrogen tanks and cells, reducing design costs. Many of the leading manufacturers have already produced hydrogen prototypes.

Despite earlier concerns about safety – hydrogen is highly flammable – manufacturers say tanks meet or exceed the safety standards of natural gas and petroleum tanks.

One leading challenge is that hydrogen fuelling infrastructure doesn’t exist in much of Europe, meaning that most sales will be for business deliver fleets, taxis or urban dwellers with access to filling stations.

Both Germany and Britain have pushed plans to develop hydrogen filling stations, joining similar initiatives in Japan, South Korea and the United States. But across much of Europe, plans for hydrogen stations – like charging points for battery-powered cars – are skimpy.

Franc’s Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking is promoting infrastructure investments to prepare for demand when cars enter the consumer market. Hydrogen is easily stored and supplies in the Europe are plentiful.

The emerging industry is also counting on European leaders to provide incentives – much like those given to renewable energy – for consumers to buy hydrogen vehicles when they start to enter the market over the next decade.

Fuels still king of the road

Despite the promise of electric propulsion, the internal combustion engine has a long road ahead of it. A recent report by the European Petroleum Industry Association says diesel and other liquid fuels delivery considerably higher energy density per unit consumed compared to hydrogen and natural gas – meaning fossils fuels are more efficient for heavy-duty and long-distance hauling.

The association also notes that the cost to operate an electric vehicle today is more than four times higher than a diesel-powered car – about 7€ per 100 kilometres for a diesel vs. more than 30€ for an electric car. Innovation and better aerodynamics will improve fuel economy and reduce emissions in road transport in the years ahead, the report says.

Hydrogen supporters acknowledge that while their vehicles are planet friendly, hydrogen production and transport are not entirely pure.

“If you are looking for 100% green hydrogen, which only is produced from renewables, then this is not yet in place,” said Thomas Brachmann, senior engineer at Honda Research and Development Europe in Germany.

“But the expansion activities in each country in reducing CO2 also leads to introduction of more and more renewable sources so renewable energy can then generate the hydrogen.”

Hydrogen vehicles also operate at double the efficiency of combustion engines, so even if hydrogen production is not entirely green, “we already have a dramatic advantage”, Brachmann said.

Next steps:
  • By end of 2012: European Commission to publish an alternative fuel strategy for transport.
  • By end of 2012: Commission to propose legislation including maritime transport  emissions in the greenhouse-gas reduction commitment.
  • By end of 2013: Commission to release strategy for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from heavy-duty vehicles
January 17, 2012 - 7:00 AM No Comments