News


Hexagon Composites and New Flyer shaping the hydrogen bus market in North America PDF Print E-mail

By Joanna Sampson 2 November 2018

 North America’s largest transit bus maker, New Flyer of America and New Flyer Canada, has ordered high-pressure hydrogen (H2) tanks from Hexagon Composites to be used on 25 of its groundbreaking Xcelsior® H2 fuel cell (or fuel cell-electric) transit buses.

“New Flyer and Hexagon have been breaking new ground in alternative fuel use since 1993,” said Rick Rashilla, Senior Vice-President of Hydrogen Automotive for Hexagon Composites Group.

“Pressure containment technology is the foundation of our company. We are pleased to combine the attributes of our current H2 tanks with the successful reliability of the compressed natural gas tanks used by New Flyer today.”

The new H2 tanks, which rely upon Hexagon’s internally developed technology, will be used to store compressed zero-emission H2 gas as an alternative to natural gas and diesel fuel.

The high-pressure tanks have successfully completed requirements for North American and European standards.

This tank joins a global product line of long length H2 tanks for the medium and heavy-duty fuel cell vehicle market. The products store H2 at 350 bar and 700 bar to feed the fuel cell that provides electrical power to the drivetrain and accessories.

Rod Neustaedter, Vice-President of Supply Management at New Flyer, added, “New Flyer is a zero-emission pioneer with over 50 years’ experience manufacturing electric transit buses. The adoption of fuel cell technology is a natural progression for us, and fuel cell-electric buses are an essential technology for driving the future of public transit in North America.”

“As communities increasingly adopt zero-emission, sustainable transportation, New Flyer will proudly support healthier cities with fuel cell-electric transit buses with H2 from Hexagon.”

The high-pressure H2 cylinders have been delivered to New Flyer. The Xcelsior transit buses, which will operate in the state of California, US, are currently being manufactured at New Flyer’s facility in Anniston, Alabama.    

 
ABB, Sintef to Test Hydrogen Fuel Cells PDF Print E-mail

 Shailaja A. Lakshmi November 2, 2018

Pic: ABB

Pic: ABB

Norwegian Sintef Ocean and ABB Marine will use two 30kW hydrogen fuel cells, set up in laboratory to model the operation and control of a complete marine power system in a megawatt-scale propulsion plant.

"ABB and Sintef Ocean are undertaking groundbreaking research to test the viability of fuel cells as an energy source for main ship propulsion. The new research project seeks to provide the answers required for fuel cell technology to be delivered at the scale needed to power commercial and passenger ships," said a press release.

The testing methodology, to be developed at Sintef Ocean’s Trondheim-based laboratory, will use two 30kW fuel cells, set up to model the operation and control of a complete marine power system in a megawatt-scale propulsion plant.

ABB’s own software together with Sintef Oceans vessel simulator capabilities will imitate and play back different load profiles and diesel/battery/fuel cell combinations, and tested in a scaled down laboratory environment.

The trials will explore more than the technicalities of scaling-up and optimized fuel cell/battery combinations alone.

“Sintef is contributing the hydrogen supply and infrastructure, while having a test lab gives ABB and Sintef Ocean the opportunity to increase in-house competence for integration, control and safety of fuel cell technology in marine applications,” says Anders Valland, research manager for maritime energy systems at Sintef Ocean. "Sintef has extensive capabilities with regard to fuel cell technology, maritime energy systems, electric power systems and power electronics, which gives us an edge in developing innovative solutions."

“Fuel cell technology is maturing quickly. These trials are expected to provide the platform for fuel cells to build on, so that they can take a position in the maritime sector that is competitive with fossil fuels,” says Jostein Bogen, product manager for energy storage and fuel cells at ABB Marine & Ports. “Finding unknowns and coping with them in a controlled environment, rather than risking surprises on board ship will be central to these trials.”

Another key objective will be establishing how to enhance the control of fuel cell plant in combination with energy storage, and how to optimize efficiency, reliability and the lifetime of fuel cell stacks.

“We will be seeking the decisive and practical solutions to develop fuel cell technology for main propulsion,” says Kristoffer Dønnestad, R&D engineer, ABB Marine & Ports, Trondheim. “Research will focus not only on fuel flow and fuel handling, but on what a hydrogen ship bunkering infrastructure might look like.”

The laboratory in Trondheim has been a key research resource for ABB, providing a focus for research into the fine details of its design innovations and helping to bring its most advanced maritime technologies to market, including ABB Onboard DC GridTM.

Using hydrogen as fuel, the proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEM) separates electrons and protons, with protons passing through and electrons used as electrical output. Hydrogen is converted directly to electricity and heat without combustion. PEM fuel cells operate at a lower temperature, are lighter and more compact than their solid oxide counterparts.

ABB is a front-runner in sustainable marine e-mobility covering electric vehicle power, protection, control and installation. It has also had close involvement in ferry projects deploying battery power over short distances or for hybrid power plants to optimize ship efficiency. Battery power will certainly be key to meeting Norway’s target for zero ship emissions in the Fjords from 2026, according to Bogen.

Certainly, Bogen believes that deep-sea shipping will not have to wait until 2050 for the combustion-free generation of electricity, heat and clean water. “With the use of renewables to produce hydrogen for fuel cells and stored energy for batteries, the entire chain can be clean,” he says.

 
Govt plans blending of Methanol with LPG to cut subsidy bill by 30% PDF Print E-mail

The government is considering a plan to sell LPG blended with methanol, which could help reduce its cooking gas subsidy by around a third at current prices. 

Mixing 20 per cent methanol with LPG, as is done in several countries, is estimated to bring down the cost of cooking gas for household consumption by Rs 100 a cylinder. 

The portion of methanol in the mix could be scaled up further as India enhances production of methane from coal. The financial benefits could be substantial, considering the country’s LPG subsidy bill that is estimated at more than Rs 20,000 crore in the fiscal 2019 budget. 

The government has allocated dedicated coal mines for production of methane —methanol is its liquid form — after the NITI Aayog laid out a roadmap for a methanol 
economy for the country, both in the automotive and household sectors to bring down India’s rising fuel import bill. 

A senior government official told ET that the project would be piloted by the NITI Aayog. The contours of the plan were discussed between the members of think tank and union minister Nitin Gadkari, who has been tasked to promote alternative fuels in the country. 

Currently, all LPG consumers have to buy the fuel at market price. The government, however, subsidises 12 cylinders of 14.2-kg each per household a year, transferring the subsidy amount directly to the bank account of the user. 

This subsidy amount varies from month to month depending on the changes in average international benchmark LPG rate and foreign exchange rate. When international rates move up, the government provides a higher subsidy. The subsidy per cylinder in August was Rs 291.48 per cylinder, compared with Rs 257.74 in July. 

India’s LPG consumption stands at nearly 2 mt a month, growing consistently in past 56 months on the back of the government’s push towards increasing access of LPG under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). More than half the country’s demand is met with imports. 

As per the NITI Aayog’s ‘methanol economy’ roadmap, there can be an annual reduction of $100 billion in crude imports by 2030 if the country moves to 15 per cent blended fuel, both for transportation and cooking. The plan is to produce methanol from abundantly available low-quality coal and other bio resources, and also manufacture it synthetically. 

This will ensure that the rising demand for methanol could be met locally, going forward. 

 
Govt plans blending of Methanol with LPG to cut subsidy bill by 30% PDF Print E-mail

The government is considering a plan to sell LPG blended with methanol, which could help reduce its cooking gas subsidy by around a third at current prices. 

Mixing 20 per cent methanol with LPG, as is done in several countries, is estimated to bring down the cost of cooking gas for household consumption by Rs 100 a cylinder. 

The portion of methanol in the mix could be scaled up further as India enhances production of methane from coal. The financial benefits could be substantial, considering the country’s LPG subsidy bill that is estimated at more than Rs 20,000 crore in the fiscal 2019 budget. 

The government has allocated dedicated coal mines for production of methane —methanol is its liquid form — after the NITI Aayog laid out a roadmap for a methanol 
economy for the country, both in the automotive and household sectors to bring down India’s rising fuel import bill. 

A senior government official told ET that the project would be piloted by the NITI Aayog. The contours of the plan were discussed between the members of think tank and union minister Nitin Gadkari, who has been tasked to promote alternative fuels in the country. 

Currently, all LPG consumers have to buy the fuel at market price. The government, however, subsidises 12 cylinders of 14.2-kg each per household a year, transferring the subsidy amount directly to the bank account of the user. 

This subsidy amount varies from month to month depending on the changes in average international benchmark LPG rate and foreign exchange rate. When international rates move up, the government provides a higher subsidy. The subsidy per cylinder in August was Rs 291.48 per cylinder, compared with Rs 257.74 in July. 

India’s LPG consumption stands at nearly 2 mt a month, growing consistently in past 56 months on the back of the government’s push towards increasing access of LPG under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). More than half the country’s demand is met with imports. 

As per the NITI Aayog’s ‘methanol economy’ roadmap, there can be an annual reduction of $100 billion in crude imports by 2030 if the country moves to 15 per cent blended fuel, both for transportation and cooking. The plan is to produce methanol from abundantly available low-quality coal and other bio resources, and also manufacture it synthetically. 

This will ensure that the rising demand for methanol could be met locally, going forward. 

 
Clean Energy Claims to Get More Scrutiny PDF Print E-mail
August 20, 2018

By Bloomberg News Editors

  Chris Martin and Emily Chasan, Bloomberg

In late May, Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Co. claimed it was about to become the first U.S. utility with 100 percent renewable energy. It was a little premature and perhaps a bit misleading.

When challenged a few weeks later, Greg Abel, a vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, which controls MidAmerican, admitted "Maybe we tried to simplify it too much." The claim hinged on a 2,000-megawatt wind farm that would give the utility all the power its customers consume over a year… but only while the wind is blowing. It will still operate coal plants when the winds doesn’t cooperate.

MidAmerican said its commitment to 100 percent renewable energy is real, but would not deny it would still deliver fossil-based power.

He’s not the only executive owning up to a far-fetched claim. More and more companies are being forced to admit to greenwashing—the disparaging term for gushing corporate sustainability claims with a tenuous grip on reality. 

Volkswagen AG touted “clean diesel” cars while its engineers tricked emissions tests. Walmart and Amazon settled lawsuits with California after they were accused of illegally selling plastic products that the state said were falsely labeled as biodegradable.

Amazon said it was now in compliance with state regulations. Walmart declined to comment. Volkswagen did not respond to a request for comment.

 Corporate sustainability reporting has risen dramatically over the last few years, with 85 percent of the S&P 500 index producing annual corporate responsibility documents in 2018, up from just 20 percent in 2011, according to the Governance & Accountability Institute. That’s partially due to investor demand. Assets in sustainable investment funds grew 37 percent last year, according to data tracked by Bloomberg.

Fewer than 10 percent of large companies have third-parties (such as auditors) sign off on their sustainability data, according to a report released Wednesday by the environmental advocacy group Ceres. And just a handful of the 500 companies surveyed analyze the data to determine what might be material to investors. 

But a lack of standardized sustainability data are becoming more of an issue for portfolio managers who want to use the information to build strategies. Investors such as BlackRock Inc., California State Teachers’ Retirement System, Neuberger Berman and Eaton Vance’s Calvert Research and Management, made it a priority to press companies to use standard sustainability reporting frameworks in their annual meetings with corporate boards this year.

“Companies don’t say ‘let me get right on it’ but we get wins here and there,” said John Streur, CEO of Calvert.

Frustrated investors are increasingly making their own sustainability assessments. Deutsche Bank AG’s asset-management arm, DWS Group, is using a natural disaster mapping tool to forecast the impact of climate change risks on its investment portfolios. UBS Asset Management worked with university researchers to come up with scientific methods to build comparable measures it could use to evaluate companies on climate change, air quality, water and public health.

As investors develop more sophisticated tools to measure corporate environmental stewardship, even just a slightly misleading ad campaign can stir up activists.

It’s an important distinction retailers frequently rely on claims that may be more nuanced than they initially appear. Anheuser-Busch InBev SA

, for instance, claims its beer is made 100 percent from renewable energy. That is, Budweiser, the king of beers, is fully fossil-free. Other beverage from the company, like Corona, Stella Artois, Beck’s and even Bud Light, can’t make that claim.

 

Tony Milikin, AB Inbev’s chief sustainability officer, defended the company’s labeling, pointing out they only put the label on Budweiser bottles and cans, not the other brands. “We’re working to spread clean energy to all of our brands by 2025,” he said.

The brewer last year became one of the 140 corporations to join the RE100 coalition, a coalition of companies committed to cutting out fossil fuel power.

“The 100 percent renewables [commitment] is for our energy use worldwide,” Milikin said in an July 30 interview. “That’s just the way we communicate with our customers.”

 
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