Distributed Power: The Vast Global Opportunity

In most developed countries around the world we rely completely on an electric power grid as our main source of energy and rarely think twice about the infrastructure that makes it all possible. But behind our constantly connected lives is a utilities grid based on hub-and-spoke architecture of centralised power production that is becoming increasingly outdated and inefficient.

While the centralised design of power distribution works fine most of the time in developed countries, severe weather disruptions and vulnerabilities to cyber security attacks put it at risk. With energy distributed through wires from a single, central location, electricity must be transmitted over long distances, and much of the primary energy is lost before it ever reaches the consumer. The result is a terribly inefficient system. And in countries that are experiencing rapid economic growth (which translates to more homes and people connected to the grid), such as China, India and Brazil, the power grid can’t handle the load and as such there are often black outs that leave people powerless, affecting commerce, education and human connectivity.

Ecology concept with earth

Ecology concept with earth

One solution to address the power distribution challenges around the world is to establish a distributed power and generation infrastructure. Distributed power and generation, also called decentralised power, refers to power generation at the point of consumption. This “enables collection of energy from many sources and may lower environmental impacts and improve security of supply.”

The business case for distributed power is growing as the needs of modern society diversifies; power consumption is increasing with the growing population and proliferation of smart devices in this always-on connected era. “The World Bank found that for every 10 percentage-point increase in high-speed Internet connections in developing countries, there is an increase of 1.3 percentage points in economic growth.” And mobile is quickly replacing fixed line Internet use yet at least 1.1 billion individuals cannot get online because a mobile network does not cover where they live. In developed countries where mobile networks are established, unpredictable weather can bring down the grid on a moments notice -the first decade of the 21st century saw 3,496 natural disasters, nearly a five fold increase since the 1970s.

To meet the energy demands of the world’s growing and connected population requires a significant investment in energy resources. Traditionally, economies have relied on a mix of fossil fuels and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind but the amount of power generated by renewable sources is intermittent as it relies heavily on the weather as its foundation.

India’s telecoms market is worth approximately $65 billion and has grown to become the world’s second largest market with over 881 million mobile users (as of 2011) generating 10 million jobs. However, over 70% of the country’s more than 400,000 telecom towers require at least 8 hours of backup power per day; a demand that is currently met by noisy and polluting diesel generators. Just recently, “more than half of the 500 mobile phone towers in Noida, India have gone off the grid after they ran out of back-up power.”

Similarly, in Brazil, an energy crisis is looming as a “severe drought has thrown its largely hydro-thermal electricity network into great distress.” Last year, the FIFA World Cup worsened soaring electricity demand, calling for power rationing. Now, as the government considers ways to reduce the “nation’s hydropower dependence, distributed power generation is one possibility.”

Even in a well-developed nation like the US, there is great opportunity for decentralised power. Take for instance, the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy during which the vulnerability and fragility of our current electric grid was showcased in an unfavourable light. Long Island Power Authority experienced outages for over 90% of its customers, and Con Edison’s told New Yorkers they should expect at least four to seven days without power in Manhattan and longer for the outer boroughs.

To create a more stable and reliable energy infrastructure around the world a greater investment in distributed power is needed. GE estimates that annual distributed power capacity additions will grow 4.4% from 142 GW in 2012 to 200 GW in 2020. During this period, GE also predicts the investment in distributed power technologies will rise from $150 billion to $206 billion. This represents an average annual growth rate of 3.3% t. Thus, through the end of the decade, distributed power capacity additions will grow at a rate that is nearly 40% faster than global power demand. This will still, however, not be enough to match said power demand, with Aggreko predicting that the global shortfall of power will reach 140GW by 2020.

Generating power on-site, rather than centrally, eliminates the cost, complexity, interdependencies, and inefficiencies associated with transmission and distribution. The proliferation of distributed power systems will benefit nations, industries and people around the world because readily available power, where and when it is needed, is critical to human and economic development.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells: A New Energy Future for the US

We’ve spoken previously about the potential for fuel-cell growth in developing countries like India, and there’s no doubt that hydrogen fuel cells could help lead those regions into a cleaner, more efficient future.  It’s not just developing regions overseas that can best benefit from an amplified fuel-cell economy, however. The time is ripe for established world powers reliant upon traditional energy sources to change their ways, and according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office December 2014 State of the States report, the United States is on the precipice of such a change.

US Hydrogen Fuel Blog - image

Fuel cells aren’t a new concept in the U.S.: NASA used them as a source for power on their Apollo missions back in the 1960’s. But because of the time it has taken to adapt fuel cell technology to consumer usability, hydrogen hasn’t been a viable option for American energy infrastructure. Until now.

“The United States is at the forefront of the fuel cell economy, and Intelligent Energy is perfectly poised to take advantage of the rapidly accelerating growth in the American fuel cell market,” confirmed Intelligent Energy’s Head of US Operations and Group Corporate Development Director Julian Hughes.

Intelligent Energy has been working with a private and public coalition called H2 USA started by the US Department of Energy devoted to a low-carbon future and promoting a hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure in the United States. Most notably,

increased sanctions and incentives have encouraged both public utilities and private companies to drastically reduce their emissions, and the fuel cells that Intelligent Energy offers have the scale to support and ultimately replace traditional infrastructure in the States.

Outside of these sanctions, there are several other reasons hydrogen fuel cells present an excellent energy alternative. Hydrogen fuel cell power is reliable: recent episodes of extreme weather in the United States, from hurricanes and tornados to blizzards, have time and again rendered antiquated power infrastructures belabored and blacked out, with masses of constituents left suffering in the cold and dark. Already, American power and utilities companies have begun incorporating hydrogen fuel cell power alongside traditional means of production, and stand only to increase that investment in the future.

Fuel cell adaptability is also appealing. Both in crisis scenarios and in everyday life, consumers’ lives have become increasingly mobile. The traditional grid just cannot completely support the energy needs of the always-on consumer. Who knows what the technology needs of future consumers will be? Whatever they are, we need to be ready with a portfolio of energy solutions. Moreover, all studies indicate that our lives are moving towards becoming only increasingly mobilised. (Don’t believe us? Just take a look at the offerings from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.)  Portable, personal hydrogen fuel cell solutions like our Upp meet these needs and allow us all to live free from the grid and the emissions associated with it.

“Fuel cell growth in the US has the momentum, and it has the support. The Department of Energy has prioritised fuel cell development in the states, and even the American Department of Defense has taken an interest in utilising fuel cells in their military branches,” Hughes continued. Indeed, a recent report released on behalf of the US Department of Energy by RCNOS not only confirmed the currently escalating demand for fuel cells in the states, but also predicted that it will continue to rise at an annual growth rate of 23% through 2020.

The time for hydrogen fuel cells has arrived. Adoption, however, can’t just come from the UK. As Toyota president Akio Toyoda stated upon the release of all the company’s hydrogen fuel cell patents to the public, “[Hydrogen] needs to be a worldwide effort.”

Hannover Messe 2015: Intelligent Energy Talks India, Upp and the 100 kW Fuel Cell

What’s the next big thing in the world of industrial engineering? If you take it from Hannover Messe, it’s not as much a thing, but a place: India. The emerging economic powerhouse stole the show at the world’s largest industrial engineering fair from April 13-17 in Hanover, Germany. Given India’s stability, openness to new ideas and wealth of resources, their national partnership with Hannover made perfect sense. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present at the event to highlight all that India has to offer the community of engineers, particularly their successful “Make in India” campaign.

Hannover

This is just one the reasons our presence at Hannover Messe this past week was so key – we were able to discuss our exciting new developments in India with those also deeply invested in alternative energy development and India’s industrial infrastructure. Intelligent Energy’s business development manager for our distributed power & generation division was interviewed during a Public Forum to further publicly discuss our groundbreaking work in India.

In case you’ve missed our developments in India you can read more here about our plans to deploy hydrogen based fuel systems for Telecom towers in the country. As we manage these telecom towers we plan to convert them over time from unreliable and high omission diesel fuel to clean, reliable hydrogen fuel cell power. Given India’s burgeoning mobile economy, our work there is ensuring a reliable more reliable telecoms grid that will ensure further economic development.

Meanwhile, Hannover Messe was the ideal venue to showcase technology and products from all areas of Intelligent Energy’s business – our 100 kW automotive fuel cell system was a huge hit and a major draw to the stand, while as always, our portable hydrogen fuel cell device Upp, was very well received.

A particular highlight of our time at Hannover was the visit of the EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elzbieta Bienkowska, who was given an introduction both to fuel cell technology and the work of Intelligent Energy across our three business divisions.

Debunking the myths—Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) can work for the mass market

by Dr. Henri Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy.

In 2014 the fuel cell market expanded rapidly across the globe. The United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan all saw significant growth. Several forces have combined to ensure ongoing adoption of fuel cell technology: public-private investment initiatives, government funding for infrastructure and consumer subsidies and falling production costs included. Most notable, however, is the commitment to future OEM launches of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

Toyota, Honda and Hyundai all recently announced plans to make FCEVs available to consumers. A hydrogen-powered version of Hyundai’s Tucson sport utility vehicle has already appeared in Southern California showrooms. In August 2014, Hyundai’s ix35 fuel cell model was driven a record distance for a hydrogen-powered production car on a single tank, covering 435 miles across three Scandinavian countries. Honda next year will offer Californians futuristic sedans that can travel 300 miles or more on a tank of hydrogen gas while emitting nothing but pure water vapor. And, Toyota’s FCEV the Mirai, already available in Japan, will become available in the U.S., UK, Germany and Denmark in summer 2015.

These FCEV developments have all occurred in the midst of the lowest oil prices in years. Questions have lingered has to how the drop in oil prices will affect natural gas and hydrogen, and there aren’t clear answers. But one thing does remain certain: oil prices will always be volatile (and are perhaps bouncing back already), and having alternative fuels available is necessary for energy security, economic and environmental purposes.

Despite progress on FCEVs, their environmental advantage of zero tailpipe emissions, and their ability to run without dependence on oil, misconceptions about fuel cells’ power, efficiency and cost persist.

It’s time to debunk some myths.

Myth #1: Hydrogen power isn’t efficient

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but accessing it for use requires extracting it from water or organic compounds. We produce diesel fuel and gasoline similarly, by refining and cleaning crude oil, a process we know harms the environment. While hydrogen comes in large part from natural gas, we can also extract it from renewable resources—making it not only efficient but also sustainable. Hydrogen can come from solar power, wind turbines and biogas without using any fossil fuels. As the energy market shifts more and more toward renewables, hydrogen remains a viable, “green” resource.

Also highlighting hydrogen’s efficiency, FCEVs emit zero carbon from their tailpipes. According to a report by the California Fuel Cell Partnership, even FCEVs that run on hydrogen derived from natural gas outshine gasoline-powered vehicles in efficiency and environmental impact, emitting 55 to 65 percent less carbon. Fuel cells also perform more efficiently than internal combustion engines, whether or not the hydrogen for the fuel cells comes from natural gas or renewables.

Myth #2: Hydrogen gas is dangerous

Hydrogen is just another fuel, it is no more dangerous or safer than other fuels such as gasoline, propane or natural gas, like all fuels it has a particular hazard set which must be respected.

Hydrogen in fact has a rapid diffusivity (3.8 times faster than natural gas), which means that when released, it dilutes quickly into a non-flammable concentration. The gasoline currently used poses an ignitable hazard for long after it’s been released, and when it catches fire the heat it generates can cause secondary fires. Conversely, hydrogen, because of its low emissivity, burns cooler—a person can put his/her hand next to a hydrogen flame and not get burned.

And, to assure the safety of using hydrogen on board vehicles using storage tanks, Toyota reported that they fired bullets at their carbon-fiber fuel tanks, and the bullets did little more than bounce off or make small dents.

Myth #3: FCEVs are too expensive to build so they aren’t a mass-market solution

Advances in fuel cell manufacturing and catalyst performance recently decreased the cost of fuel cell production dramatically. Gil Castillo, senior group manager of advanced vehicles for Hyundai in California, said costs have dropped 70% since the company began working on fuel cells in the late 1990s. Production has become so much less expensive that Hyundai has also announced it is leasing its hydrogen SUV for $499 a month, with fuel thrown in for free.

Manufacturers are working hard to further reduce the cost of FCEVs, and as they scale production for mass market, standard volume manufacturing and product engineering forces will help. In fact, Toyota recently mentioned that it has been able to streamline its FCEV manufacturing process by gaining Japanese government approval to build and inspect hydrogen tanks, which is expected to help reduce the enabling costs of installing fuel cells into electric vehicles.

Government funding initiatives and subsidies help too. On May 1, 2014, the California Energy Commission announced that it will invest $46.6 million to accelerate the development of publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations in California in order to promote a consumer market for zero-emission fuel cell vehicles. Furthermore, in 2013, the Obama administration had already launched the U.S.’s hydrogen strategy nationwide through the launch of H2USA—a public-private partnership focused on advancing hydrogen infrastructure to support more transportation energy options for US consumers, including fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

Myth #4: Filling FCEV tanks with hydrogen will be difficult and slow

Drivers don’t have to make significant changes to their refueling behaviors to fill up their FCEV with hydrogen. A similar ‘nozzle-to-car’ method is the norm and unlike many other alternative fuel vehicles, standards already exist. The fuel cell electric vehicles manufactured by Toyota, Hyundai and Honda already allow an ‘at-pump’ refuel that will take only a few minutes, and drivers do not have to fill up again for several hundred miles.

Myth #5: FCEVs can’t handle long journeys

FCEVs offer zero tailpipe emission motoring without compromising on performance and range. The ability to carry more energy on-board the fuel cell vehicle in comparison to a battery powered car means that the fuel cell vehicles have greater range. And performance has improved over time. An FCEV can now achieve a much longer range with an on-board hydrogen gas tank, making it competitive with conventional and hybrid vehicles. In a real-world test on California roads, National Renewable Energy Laboratory researchers demonstrated that a fuel cell-powered Toyota Highlander SUV can travel more than 400 miles and achieve a fuel economy of 69 miles per gallon equivalent. In fact, hydrogen cars now coming onto the market have triple the range of most battery-powered electric cars.

With the advancement of fuel cell technology, the adoption of FCEVs becomes easier and more advantageous. Ever tightening global policies on carbon emissions will make their adoption necessary. Industry partners from OEMs to governments and fuel cell technology providers need to continue to work together to deliver hydrogen as a highly scalable and viable emission-free, mass-market energy alternative.

We’re excited about the opportunity that fuel cell technology offers to the automotive industry and beyond, and we look forward to welcoming further market advancements in the next few years as the technology and the vehicles enter the mainstream.

The Fuel Cell Expo and Japan’s Hydrogen Energy Future

It’s been a big year for fuel cells in Japan, with a lot happening in the automotive arena. First, Toyota made available all of their hydrogen fuel cell patents  to promote the development and commercialisation of fuel cell electric vehicles. Then, the Japanese government announced that they’re planning on spending $385 million on fuel-cell vehicle subsidies and hydrogen stations for the 2020 Olympics. Clearly, Japan is one of the pioneers of  a new alternative energy future with hydrogen at the forefront, which makes sense given their ongoing struggle with CO2 emissions(at the year end of March 2014, they reached a record high of 1.2 billion metric tons released) and the move away from nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster.

Fuel Cell Expo

Photo Credit: www.fcexpo.jp

As leaders in hydrogen fuel cell development, Intelligent Energy has had a strong presence in Japan for some time, particularly in the automotive market. We first partnered with Suzuki back in 2006, and together produced the Suzuki Fuel Cell Burgman scooter, the first fuel cell vehicle of any type to receive whole vehicle type approval. Further to this, in 2012, Suzuki and Intelligent Energy formed the joint venture company, Smile FC System Corporation, to develop and manufacture fuel cell systems.

So what’s the next big thing in Japan with hydrogen fuel cells? That’s what was discussed at the Fuel Cell Expo at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center that took place from February 25 through February 27. As the world’s leading hydrogen fuel cell exhibition and conference, it gathered together all the best products, technologies, information and leaders in the industry to share ideas about how best to improve technology and learn more efficient techniques.

Besides the push around fuel cell electric cars, there was other hydrogen technology that caught our eye: a portable hydrogen station mounted on the back of a truck, an infra-red sensing hydrogen dispenser and updates to existing models of hydrogen fuellers that will make them more efficient.

Were you at the Expo? What was your favorite exhibition and trend highlighted there?

Highlights from Mobile World Congress

Ikea Announces Charging Furniture, FCC Tells Telecom and Energy Providers to Unite, and Facebook Looks to Build a Connected World.

MWCPhoto Credit: Pepcom

We’ve been at Mobile World Congress all week showing off our Upp and catching the latest and greatest that the mobile industry has to offer. Historically a meeting of the major telecom providers, Mobile World Congress has morphed into a show-and-tell of wearables and smart consumer products with much of the conversation focused on how we will power this newly connected world. In case you missed the highlights, let us draw your attention to some of our favorite announcements from Barcelona.

Ikea and Samsung Announced Wireless Charging Furniture

Get ready to ditch tangled bedside chords and unsightly wires in the living room. Swedish furniture maker Ikea announced plans to begin selling furniture with built-in Qi wireless charging, available in April 2015. The new furniture will be compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge and covers will be available for incompatible iPhone and Samsung models. The idea is that you could place your smartphone on a piece of furniture embedded with the charging technology and it will power up wirelessly.

MWC 1

Photo Credit: Ikea

FCC Asked Telecom Providers To Work with Energy Companies

Aside from the obvious focus of FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s talk on the commission’s move to regulate the Internet, he said telecom operators should be able to provide 5G specialized network services to a series of new industry partners, including those in the energy sectors. He noted, “the advanced 5G infrastructure is expected to become the nervous system of the digital society and digital economy.” And as we look to connect everything from cars and coffee mugs to hospitals and factories to the Internet, it will be critical to build a new and improved generation of communication networks.

Facebook Wants to Build a Connected World

Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared an update on the company’s Internet.org project, which aims to bring Internet access to “over 90% of the global offline population who live in developing countries.” According to the company’s newsroom, “for the past year Facebook has worked with mobile operators to grow the number of people accessing the Internet. Through the Internet.org app, more than 500 million people in six countries can now access useful health, employment and local information services without data charges.”

As always, GSMA put on an insightful and forward thinking conference that left us excited for building an ever-connected world. Notably one of the biggest themes was the evolution of wireless technology.  As people continue to embrace ubiquitous wireless technology, and as our data consumption increases, we are rapidly approaching a point where battery limitations and the hassle of power sockets are limiting our ability to be truly mobile. Until next year, Barcelona!

Air Quality Today – The Cost of Doing Nothing

All around the world, our air is literally killing us. According to a report from the World Health Organization, polluted air accounted for seven million deaths globally during 2012. To put that in perspective, this is the entire population of Hong Kong.

air quality image

Not surprisingly, the developing regions were hardest hit, with 5.9 million air pollution-related deaths in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific alone. In India, a generally heightened reliance on oil has combined with increased coal consumption to trigger a 4.4 percent rise in CO2 emissions, leading to pollution that’s eating into crop yields. In China, cities such as Beijing, where air quality index (AQI) readings commonly exceed levels that the WHO considers unsafe, have at times been declared “almost uninhabitable.”

But dangerous levels of air pollution aren’t limited to the developing world. In London, nitrogen dioxide pollution in the Oxford Street shopping district reached its legal limit for the year just four days into 2015, and the London Mayor is under pressure to “reduce pollution a lot sooner than 2020 and cover a wider area,” said the London Assembly. In Japan, CO2 emissions reached a record high of 1.2 billion metric tons released during the year ended in March 2014. Even the tiny Persian Gulf island nation of Bahrain, one of the world’s richest, was among the 10 countries with the most polluted air in the world during 2014, according to the WHO.

One of the greatest hopes for reversing this alarming trend rests with alternative energy sources, and that’s why we at Intelligent Energy believe we’ll be able to help take a bite out of this problem during 2015 and beyond.

Our business in India aims to bring reliable and cleaner energy solutions to more than 10,000 of the country’s diesel-reliant telecom towers. We believe we can help those partners reduce the diesel consumption of each tower while also increasing uptime, and we’re aiming to replicate this activity across more towers during the year.  Our own fuel cell initiatives are obviously a key part of this.  Such efforts dovetail with the Indian government’s commitment to alternative energy sources.

On the vehicle emissions front, governments in France, Germany, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. are drawing up plans to introduce hydrogen refueling networks to support a new generation of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London has gone so far as to mandate that all new taxis must be zero-emission capable by 2018. In concert with efforts such as these, leading automotive manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda and Hyundai have announced their intentions to make FCEVs available to global markets, and this has already begun, with Toyota’s Mirai FCEV for example, already being available to consumers in Japan and expected to hit the roads in the U.S. and the U.K this summer.

It’s clear that the world is waking up to this important issue, and Intelligent Energy is well positioned to make important contributions to the cause. Our fuel cell technologies for the consumer electronics, distributed power and generation and motive markets, are precisely what government and industry around the world need to reduce emissions to safe levels. Working with organizations in the private and public sectors around the globe, Intelligent Energy can help make our air safe to breathe again. If that isn’t important work, then we don’t know what is.

Getting Lucky at the Telegraph Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show

Last week, we took our personal hydrogen fuel cell charger Upp to the people who make it their goal to live life unplugged: the attendees of The Telegraph Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show. For the uninitiated, the Outdoor Show (as it’s affectionately called) is the UK’s largest exhibition for adventurers of all types. Whether your hobby is travelling, photography, climbing or watersports – or if you’d just like to pick up some new gear—the Outdoor Show is a must–attend. Beyond just practical shopping, it’s a great place to get inspired and check out what’s new in the adventure circuit. So of course, this was the perfect place for us to display Upp.

Go Outdoors 4
We were at London’s ExCel Centre for all four days of the conference, from Thursday, February 12 to Sunday, February 15. Of course, we had our work cut out for us keeping all of our fellow adventurers and conference attendees powered up and unplugged. While many attendees had scaled mountains before, sometimes there’s no more impossible feat than just keeping your phone charged at one of these marathon conferences.  But we decided to debut a special feature at this conference for those who were feeling particularly lucky: our very own Wheel of Fortune! How did it work? Conference attendees could spin to win an Upp, a cartridge or an Upp-powered device like a GoPro! There were no losers here – everyone who spun walked away with at least a lollypop.

As for the conference itself, we definitely got inspired for our next adventure. There were stands for destinations all over the world, climbing centres to test our abilities before hitting some real boulders, and even some downright bizarre displays of skills that we hope to never have to put to the test, like skinning rabbits and eating worms.

Did you attend the show? What there inspired you to want to live life unplugged the most?

Cars, Wearables and Drones, Oh My: CES 2015 Highlights

For its 48th year running, International CES 2015 did not disappoint, drawing 3,600 exhibitors and more than 160,000 people to the desert of Las Vegas for flashy product launches, parties and keynotes. It’s undoubtedly one of the most exhausting weeks of the year leaving us with aching feet and much less hydrated than when we arrived. But it’s worth it after witnessing the year’s most mind-blowing technology firsthand.

Undoubtedly, 2015 will be remembered as the year we build a more connected and mobile world. Cars, drones, wearables, 3D printers and smart-everything captivated our attention and the attention of show-goers judging by the conversations we overheard in the crowded halls of the LVCC and the Sands.

The best keynote of CES 2015, according to The Verge, was delivered by Intel CEO Brian Krzanic who opened with a concept that precisely sums up the show: “We’re going from a two dimensional world, to a three dimensional world. This additional dimension will change how we experience computing.” While he included no mention at all of the much buzzed about “Internet of Things,” there were plenty of theatrical demonstrations of “autonomous drones, intelligent doorways, and sight-assisting jackets.”

Here are some of the highlights that caught our attention:

Cars. Toyota’s fuel cell vehicle, Mercedes-Benz self-driving prototype, Audi’s self-driving A7. If we didn’t know better we’d say we were at a car show. In fact, CES is now being called the most important car show of the year. With a record 10 automakers at this year’s CES, Krzanic’s statement rings true – the way we experience computing is changing and that includes in our vehicles. One announcement we’re particularly excited about: Toyota will grant access to its intellectual property, a move that we hope will help to build the fuel cell infrastructure for a growing hydrogen economy in 2015.

Wearables. We saw smartwatches in all shapes, sizes, colors and styles. It’s clear that designing accessories that blend in to look and feel like regular jewelry is top of mind for companies. CNET noted “Misfit’s Swarovski Shine solar-powered fitness jewelry looks like Swarovski jewelry. A crystal-studded necklace, a crystal pendant. You’d never know someone was wearing a smart device just from looking at it.” Not a wearable per say but we also got a sweat on testing Tao, a tiny gym in your pocket, which looks like a computer mouse but allows you to work out anywhere using body weight. Importantly, dogs made a major showing at CES this year – we saw a smart collar for your pup called Tagg that tracks location, activity and body temperature of your pet. And topping it off, a smart belt that automatically compensates for your giant dinner.

Drones. Drones aren’t new to CES but this year they seemed to be more prevalent and not surprisingly, more intelligent. The main uses for drones are military and photography controlled by remote but last week several autonomous drones made an appearance including the Airdog, Hexo+, Trace and Ghost. With a “follow me” feature, “the drone locks onto you and flies anywhere you go.” DJI’s new drone, the Inspire 1, was one of the most popular products thanks to its stabilizing 4K camera, but possibly topping all drone showings was the choreographed drone dance performed by Parrot.

Julian Hughes, Intelligent Energy’s Corporate Business Development Director, demonstrates Upp™, the company’s portable hydrogen fuel cell power solution for USB-compatible devices.

Julian Hughes, Intelligent Energy’s Corporate Business Development Director, demonstrates Upp™, the company’s portable hydrogen fuel cell power solution for USB-compatible devices.

Rounding out a great week, we were thrilled to be named a CES Innovation Award Honoree for our latest fuel cell innovation named, Upp, the portable power solution driven by a hydrogen fuel cell to power up USB-compatible devices. Between Toyota’s fuel cell Mirai and the Mercedes-Benz F015 Luxury in Motion, which is powered by a fuel cell and a battery, fuel cells were a hot topic at CES 2015. As we enter the New Year, we’re excited to play a role in the hydrogen economy and bring new forms of energy mainstream to enable today’s always-on connected consumer and world!

Julian Hughes picks up the 2015 CES Innovation Award.

Julian Hughes picks up the 2015 CES Innovation Award.

TechCrunch Disrupt London Gets to #PowerUpp with Intelligent Energy

While we had a blast helping TechCrunch Disrupt SF live life unplugged a few weeks ago, we wanted to bring some of that great buzz closer to home. Fortunately, we got the chance to do just that this week at TechCrunch Disrupt in London. There are no shortage of bright minds and great ideas on our side of the pond, and so it was great to show off Upp amongst more local peers.

How did we fare on our home turf?  Better than ever! Once again, it turns out there’s nothing like wandering around a conference all day and draining your phone battery by noon to make you appreciate when someone hands you a portable hydrogen fuel cell. By 11 am both days, we had desperate attendees swarming the booth, many of them notified of our presence by the groundswell of enthusiasm for Upp on social media.

Tweet 1The TechCrunch attendees were not only incredibly appreciative of the convenience of getting to borrow a portable charger, but they were also completely wowed by the technology itself. Given the technical background of many of the attendees, they were fascinated by the sophisticated fuel cell technology compressed into Upp, and truly amazed that this kind of product will soon be available for them to purchase and use on a daily basis. The crew from ITProPortal even stopped by, and were so impressed by our demo that they featured Upp as one of the most exciting finds at the conference in their roundup of the action.

Tweet 2

Favourite moment? When a conference goer arrived at our stand with another battery pack, which he’d unfortunately forgotten to charge before heading out to TechCrunch, thus rendering it useless. It really brought home the benefits of Upp versus other portable chargers – why live your life attached to wall charging but just with a longer tether when you could abandon the socket altogether and live life unplugged? Upp saved the day, and we charged not just his depleted phone, but his battery as well. Needless to say, we can now count him as one of our successful converts.

It was another great event, and the buzz about Upp is only continuing to grow. Luckily, all of our devotees won’t have much longer to wait!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 28 other followers