HZwo e.V. is one of the leading industry associations for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in Germany. With over 130 members, the company brings together the entire hydrogen value chain under one roof. They work at the interface between industry, politics and research. More specifically, HZwo initiates projects, organize events, joint trade fair stands and workshops. They also advise on funding and transformation plans.

Interview with Frederik Wewetzer, Specialist consultant of the Saxon Competence Center Hydrogen at HZwo.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the organization?

Frederik Wewetzer: Our activities can be roughly summarised in 5 projects:

  • Innovation-cluster

Within the scope of our activities as an innovation cluster, we see ourselves as a project forge and network that makes it easier for research institutions and industrial players to form consortia for research, development and application projects in the field of hydrogen and fuel cell technology. We keep an eye on funding opportunities at Saxon, German and European level and, if we see specific opportunities, we actively bring the right players together and provide support in preparing applications and publicising them. The latter, for example, by organising large joint stands, e.g. at hy-fcell in Stuttgart or the Hanover Fair. The idea behind this is that smaller companies, which cannot afford a complete strategy or business development department, can also take advantage of the opportunities presented by the energy transition and do not go under at the abovementioned trade fairs, for example, but are able to present their expertise in a highly visible way thanks to a place on the large HZwo joint stand. So far, we have been able to realise over 30 R&D projects within our network.

  • Open-Source Technology-Platforms

We have been able to build many of these R&D projects around our open-source platforms. Together with Chemnitz University of Technology, we have developed our own PEM fuel cell stack, the Open-Source Stack (OSS), which we make available to our members. Whether CAD data, a few fancy pictures for the homepage or the real physical stack for functional testing of components – in the laboratories of Chemnitz University of Technology we can adapt and implement everything to this stack. In addition to the stack, we also offer an open-source car (OSCar) in cooperation with the Chemnitz Institute of Mechanical and Plant Engineering (ICM).

  • Hydrogen Innovation Center HIC

HZwo e.V. has successfully applied for a site for the National Innovation and Technology Centre for Hydrogen in a competition organised by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport Affairs. Over the next few years, an industrial research-, testing- and certification-center, that is unique in Europe, will be established in Chemnitz. The concept for this was designed together with SMEs, automotive suppliers and industrial companies as well as experts from fuel cell research and builds a bridge between scientific research, the transfer to disruptive hydrogen technologies and broad industrial value creation by the supplier industry. Start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises, automotive suppliers and industrial companies from all over Germany will be given the opportunity to test and certify their innovations and develop new standards for the global market at the HIC. A hydrogen campus is also to be built around the centre. The site has already been divided up accordingly.

  • Hydrogen Alliance Chemnitz

The development of the hydrogen economy in the Chemnitz / south-west Saxony region has great potential for value creation and job creation. At the same time, the supply of hydrogen to those Saxon companies that still use fossil fuels for their production processes and for which electrification is not possible is also a decisive prerequisite for securing existing jobs and value chains in the Free State in the long term. It will not be possible to cover the region’s future hydrogen requirements from its own production, which means that a connection to a supra-regional supply infrastructure is absolutely essential in the interests of the region.

Against this background, the Chemnitz Hydrogen Alliance represents the common interest of the member companies in connecting the region to the German hydrogen core pipeline network.

  • Saxon Hydrogen Competence Center

The Saxon Competence Centre for Hydrogen “KH2” is the central point of contact for citizens, local authorities, the media, business and science for all questions relating to hydrogen production, transport, storage and application. 

The tasks include: 

  • Central contact point for hydrogen issues in Saxony 
  • Creating awareness and acceptance for hydrogen 
  • Informing and advising industry, science and research on all hydrogen-specific issues and funding opportunities 

KH2 has been operated by Energy Saxony e.V. and HZwo e.V. since 2022. It is assigned by the Saxon State Ministry for Energy, Climate Protection, Environment and Agriculture (SMEKUL) and the Saxon State Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport (SMWA).

E.E: What’s the news for 2024 about new directions?

F.W: In 2024, our scientific conference, the FC³ Fuel Cell Conference Chemnitz, will enter the next round. Taking place from 12 to 13 November 2024 in collaboration with the Fraunhofer IWU, the conference offers an insight into fuel cells suitable for series production, drive systems and efficient manufacturing processes. Participants can look forward to specialist presentations, interactive workshops and exclusive laboratory tours that will enable direct dialogue with leading experts. So whatever technological news is happening in the hydrogen industry, you will find out about it there.

Users, providers and scientists are cordially invited to submit an abstract by 30 April 2024. The top topics for scientific submission are:

  • Fuel cells: Components, materials, simulation, stack, BoP, system components, sensors, compressors
  • Hydrogen drives: H2 refuelling system, operating strategies, thermal management, vehicle powertrain, vehicle interfaces
  • Hydrogen technologies: electrolysis, mobile and stationary storage, refuelling, business models
  • Hydrogen system production: production processes and systems, production and factory planning, new stacking processes
  • Related topics can also be submitted.

The abstracts will be evaluated by the programme committee. The authors of the selected abstracts will then be asked to submit the complete paper in German or English. All accepted contributions will be published in printed and electronic form with ISBN number for the conference on 12 November 2024. Conference language is German. Submissions in English are possible.

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

F.W: We expect a new focus on technology in the mobile machinery sector. Hybrid and electrified drives can be found in many mobile applications such as cars and city buses and have proven their performance and robustness in everyday use. Battery-powered and emission-free construction machinery has been available on the market since 2015, but is not yet in widespread use. The reason for this is the operating time (“range”) of only 5 to 8 hours for purely battery-powered machines under moderate loads. If the machines are loaded more intensively, operating times of less than one hour can occur. To meet this challenge, equipping commercial construction machinery with fuel cell drives is a market-relevant measure. One example of this is the Hy.CoMM project, in which numerous HZwo members are involved.

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2024?

F.W: 2024 will be a defining year in Germany, particularly in terms of infrastructure. The planning of the core network and, above all, the establishment of a financing concept will be an important basis for the utilisation of hydrogen for industrial energy supply. We also expect the HIC project to start this year. This means that the final foundations for the hydrogen economy may be laid in 2024.