The weather is starting to warm up, the days are getting longer, and there might even be lambs gamboling in the fields, but for energy professionals, on April 8 through April 12, there’s only one place to be: inside the hall of the Hannover Fair, Europe’s largest trade show. Last year 185,000 people descended on the old World Fair site.
Hall 27, now the home of the expanded Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Group Exhibit, will be a mix of the usual buyers, analysts, students, and vendors, as well as people who are, frankly, lost. As always I have a hit list of the companies I want to meet with and the trends I need to explore further.
In the fuel cell and hydrogen sector I see two key trends emerging this year, and Hannover provides a concentrated opportunity in advance of the production of our Fuel Cell Annual Report for 2013 to track down the data to back up (or not) what I am seeing. So far the two big trends are:
Hydrogen from electrolysis. This suddenly ubiquitous technology includes using methanated hydrogen to produce synthetic natural gas. Companies at the Fair with product in this area include: Acta (Italy), Ceram (France), CETH2 (France), Giner (USA), H Tec, H2 Nitidor (Italy), iGas (Germany), ITM Power (United Kingdom), McPhy (Germany). MicrobEnergy (Germany), and Next Hydrogen (Canada).
The stationary sector strengthens. Stationary applications still don’t attract the type of PR that vehicles do, but an increasing number of companies are on the verge of profitability. Companies at the Fair that I will be looking for include: Ballard (Canada), Bosch Thermotechnik (Germany), Ceramic Fuel Cells (Australia), ClearEdge Power (United States), Convion (Finland), Elcore (Germany), Foresight Energy (China), and MVV Energie (Germany).
Also interesting is the rise in companies at the Fair with fuel cell-powered portable power products. This market seemed to drop off a cliff a few years ago, but companies like myFC (Sweden), Lilliputian Systems (United States), and Horizon Fuel Cell (Singapore) could be driving a resurgence of interest in this area.