The Hydrogen Stream: Hypoint and BASF team up, Green hydrogen strategic priority for France

HyPoint has teamed up with Germany’s BASF to develop high-performance fuel cell membranes for use in its hydrogen fuel cell system while Italian gas transmission system operator Snam has launched a program to support startups along the entire hydrogen value chain, and French President Emmanuel Macron said that small modular reactors and green hydrogen are two of the country’s development objectives to 2030.

October 12, 2021

US-based startup HyPoint has teamed up with Germany’s BASF, the largest chemical producer in the world, to develop high-performance fuel cell membranes for use in its hydrogen fuel cell system. “The new high-performance fuel cell system is expected to achieve more than 3,000 W/kg, an increase of at least 50% over the current system, and become available to customers in mid-2024. Critically, 3,000 W/kg of specific power opens HyPoint’s system up to larger aircraft, including passenger planes,” HyPoint wrote on Friday. The startup focuses on hydrogen-powered zero-emission aviation, aeronautics, and urban air mobility. “Our collaboration will yield next-generation membranes and membrane-electrode assemblies that result in a significant improvement to our system’s specific power, durability, and operational temperature range,” Alex Ivanenko, founder, and CEO of HyPoint, commented.

Italian gas transmission system operator Snam launched a program to support startups along the entire hydrogen value chain, from transportation to storage and end-uses. “The startups selected after the calls will have access to an acceleration process lasting between four and six months, with research and development support, as well as mentoring, networking and technology testing,” the Milan-based company wrote on Monday, adding that HyAccelerator is “the first corporate global-scale startup acceleration programme focused on hydrogen.” At the end of the program, the startups will coordinate with Snam to conduct feasibility studies. Snam owns and operates the largest natural gas transmission network in Europe, with 42,000 kilometers of pipelines. The gas TSO previously told pv magazine it is open to shipping any form of low-carbon hydrogen – green or blue.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that small modular reactors and green hydrogen are two of the country’s development objectives to 2030. “We must be a leader in green hydrogen by 2030,” he said on Tuesday during a two-hour speech about France’s 2030 strategy. Macron said that France must reinvent nuclear energy and use it also to produce green hydrogen. “We can become a leader [in green hydrogen] because we have all the elements to do so. And first and foremost we have the nuclear … At the moment, given the electrification of the European energy and mobility systems, it is not true that we have enough renewable capacity for the electrolysis needed to produce green hydrogen.” Macron said that the EU countries can either import green hydrogen or produce locally, in the case of France through nuclear.

Green hydrogen should be prioritized in the upcoming reforms of the EU’s gas rules, wrote a group of four researchers in a white paper published by the International Council on Clean Transportation on Sunday. “We encourage policymakers not to add fossil-based hydrogen as an eligible pathway in the REDII and not to incentivize this pathway in any other relevant climate and gas policies, such as the upcoming Hydrogen and Decarbonised Gas Market Package,” reads the document. The researchers conducted a sensitivity analysis of the life cycle GHG emissions of several low-GHG gas pathways, including biomethane. “Hydrogen produced from biomethane (made from wastewater sludge, LFG, or manure) and natural gas plus CCS can deliver significant GHG reductions, but it is also possible that they could have similar or even higher GHG intensity than the fossil comparator.”

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South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and partners launched the Hydrogen Valley Feasibility Study Report. The government said that developing a hydrogen economy has become a strategic priority for the country. “South Africa’s proposed hydrogen valley will start near Mokopane in Limpopo, where platinum group metals (PGMs) are mined, extending through the industrial and commercial corridor to Johannesburg and leading finally to Durban. The hydrogen valley will be used to establish, accelerate and embed niche innovations through upscaling and replication,” the South African government wrote on Friday. The study also identified nine pilot projects in the mobility, industrial, and buildings sectors. “In the mobility sector, there is already momentum in place to deploy mining trucks (e.g., project Rhyno in Mogalakwena) and heavy-duty trucks along the N3 corridor… The industrial sector already sees many pilot projects underway that could be supported by this project. Sasol has committed to developing ethylene and ammonia from green hydrogen… In the buildings sector, the Limpopo Science and Technology Park, as well as Anglo-American corporate office buildings in Rustenburg, have already planned to install fuel cells for power,” reads the feasibly study. According to the document, hydrogen demand in the Valley could reach up to 80% of demand in the national hydrogen roadmap.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on green hydrogen production, transmission, storage, and use. Over the past months, IRENA tried to leverage knowledge across its global membership, while IPHE facilitated information sharing and engagement on policy, codes, standards and safety, trade issues, and supply chain opportunities. “It is very important that the international initiatives working on hydrogen collaborate effectively to build on and lever each other’s efforts to accelerate the pace of development and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies,” commented Noé van Hulst, IPHE Chair. The organization founded in 2003 has 22 members, including Australia, China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Norway, Russia, and the United States.

U.K. Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and India’s Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy Raj Kumar Singh endorsed a forward action plan on clean energy, including boosting renewable energy and storage, enabling production and use of green hydrogen, and increasing the switch to electric mobility. “The Energy Dialogue today advanced our joint agenda to develop clean energy to support sustainable growth for both our economies,” Alex Ellis, High Commissioner to India, commented on Friday.

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