Today, Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois, visited two Flemish companies in the field of hydrogen technology: Hydrogenics Europe NV (Oevel) and Borit NV (Geel).
Internationally, interest in hydrogen technology is increasing significantly, both for zero-emission transport and for storage of green electricity. Also in Flanders, the preservation of energy and mobility is one of the top priorities of this Flemish government. The Prime Minister was impressed by the great expertise we have in Flemish soil on hydrogen, as a technology for a sustainable future.
Recently, the Flemish government approved the Energy Vision, with Flanders subscribing to the European measure to sell no more cars on fossil fuel from 2035. New cars must have a zero emission. Hydrogen is one of the solutions.
Cars (and buses, trucks, etc.) on hydrogen do not emit harmful substances, while the action radius and tank speed are comparable to those of traditional fuel vehicles.
Furthermore, hydrogen with its relatively low specific weight and high energy density is also used for the storage of solar and wind energy. Converting excess renewable energy into hydrogen creates an energy buffer and network stabilizer. The hydrogen produced can be used in mobility applications or, in periods of scarcity, be converted to electricity again.
As an introduction to the visit, Adwin Martens, Director of WaterstofNet, says that Flanders should be proud because it has several unique industrial players in the field of hydrogen technology, which together complete the entire value chain on key components. Hydrogenics and Borit are nice examples of this.
A good half a year ago, with the support of the Flemish government, the company cluster of power-to-gas (from green electricity to hydrogen) was established. This has now grown into a strong club of 26 companies, all of which aim to work together on hydrogen in Flanders.
Hydrogenics Europe (Oevel)
Hydrogenics Europe is one of the world's top development and production companies
Generators that produce hydrogen from green electricity.
It has already produced decades for leading customers worldwide electrolysis systems.
"What we used to provide hydrogen generators for hydrogen in the industry a few years ago, we now have more and more customers purchasing hydrogen generators for gas stations or for energy storage." Says Filip Smeets, CEO of Hydrogenics Europe.
Hydrogenics in Oevel has 75 people employeed.
The parent company, based in Canada, produces fuel cells.
Borit belongs to the world's top level of production of advanced bipolar plates, crucial components of electrolysis and fuel cells. Borit has developed unique production processes for the production of these very thin (0.1mm) metal plates, which could greatly reduce both the development cycle and the fallout cost.
Borit produces bipolar plates for many industrial players including some of the largest OEMs in the automotive sector. A fuel cell for a car contains 400 of these very complex metal plates and are crucial for its proper operation.
"Since our start-up as a Flemish start-up in 2010, we have made a beautiful growth process as an industrial company," said Luc Wanten, CEO Borit NV. "With the support of our shareholders and all stakeholders, Geel aims to expand our high-quality world-class pilot plant for this new and sustainable technology."
Reaction of Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois
Prime Minister Bourgeois says to be impressed with the products of these Flemish companies and the place they have conquered in the world of hydrogen technology:
"It's another proof that we have pearls of companies in Flanders, which play an important role in technology in a sustainable society. As a Flemish government, we must support these companies wherever possible, for example in terms of research and development. In January 2017, 13 major companies (including Shell, Total, Daimler, Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Air Liquide, Engie, BMW, ...) announced that they will invest more than $ 10 billion in hydrogen in the coming years. We are therefore right to say that the companies we visited today also play at this level.