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.

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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.

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London conference highlights hydrogen’s potential to investor audience

On 1 October, hydrogen specialists from some of the world’s biggest industrial companies assembled in London to address an audience of investors and City analysts on the potential of hydrogen to meet our energy requirements and transform how we consume energy.

The half-day conference – ‘Hydrogen: the new energy landscape’ – was organised by financial services firm Canaccord Genuity, and featured speakers from French industrial gases group Air Liquide, Japanese carmaker Honda, and German industrial giant Siemens.

Together they gave a fascinating insight into the potential of hydrogen as a source of energy, in sectors such as automotive, and as a vital ingredient to turn renewable energy into stored power through the application of electrolysis.

Attendees at the event were left in no doubt about the investment potential in the sector, with Canaccord technology analyst Bob Liao highlighting the pace of change in the hydrogen space and the capacity of market participants to roll out ‘disruptive’ hydrogen technology at an industrial scale.

Among the first to take the podium was Dr Henri Winand: the chief executive of Intelligent Energy told a packed room how the need for greater efficiency in power generation and transmission, coupled with the rise in personal mobile devices, would see a return from Alternative Current (AC), or grid-generated, power to more localised Direct Current (DC)-generated power consumption – benefiting hydrogen-fuelled distributed power generation.

Deputy Mayor of London Kit Malthouse, an enthusiastic advocate of hydrogen, illustrated Londoners’ lukewarm interest in electric cars with a startling fact:  68 percent of charging points in the capital were not used at all between April and June 2014. This he attributed to the significant time taken to recharge an electric car. By comparison, the fact that there was no ‘behavioural change’ required to refuel a hydrogen electric vehicle – because of the speed of refuelling – meant they had the potential to be far more popular.

On the same day that Toyota announced at the Paris Motor Show that its hydrogen-powered vehicle would go on sale next summer in Germany and the UK, Honda’s Thomas Brachmann told the conference that the company would also start selling hydrogen cars next year in Europe, and was working on a second-generation vehicle for 2019. Both Brachmann and Pierre Etienne Franc of Air Liquide spoke about the benefits of the European-funded HyFIVE project which will deploy hydrogen vehicles across Europe and thus help nurture clusters of refuelling stations.

Other speakers included Duncan Macleod, a consultant and former Shell executive, who explained how hydrogen was already a part of the world of Big Oil and had formed part of the oil and gas business for decades. While Gaelle Hotellier, head of hydrogen solutions at Siemens, spoke about how the German company was marketing its own PEM electrolysis system to industrial customers as it moves towards commercialisation of its hydrogen technologies.

The hydrogen landscape is certainly moving from theory to reality!

Hydrogen Fuelled Taxis For a Zero Emission London

Accounting for roughly 80% of London’s airborne pollution, tackling road traffic emissions is high on the agenda for the city’s leaders. Reported as having some of the worst air quality of any capital city in Europe, London has already launched a number of initiatives to address the challenge. “Boris Bikes”, the “Low Emission Zone”, and on-going upgrades to the public transport network are all geared towards reducing London’s carbon footprint and making its air more fit to breathe.

Last Thursday (16th January), London Mayor, Boris Johnson, announced a significant new measure to further cleaning up London’s act. Targeting what he called the “Achilles heel” of the iconic Black Cab, the new initiative aims to cut out the “pollution generated by chugging diesel engines”.  The mandate stated that all new taxis will be required to be zero-emission capable by 2018 – a significant ask!

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Named “New Taxis for London”, the event was host to Intelligent Energy and its partner, The London Taxi Company, and other taxi manufacturers. Showcasing the hydrogen fuel cell powered taxi that made its debut at the 2012 Olympics, Intelligent Energy’s cab was immediately distinguishable, perfectly in keeping with the iconic “black cab” design.

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There were some criticisms surrounding the future of purely battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in London from the Green Party. They questioned the limited range of EVs, and the need to plug in at one of 1,300 electric charging points. However, for our hydrogen-fuelled cabbies during the Olympics it was business as usual.

Because the fuel cell taxi is refuelled at the pump by inserting a nozzle, much like refuelling today’s diesel cabs, drivers were able to top up in minutes (not hours) and drive for eight hours or more without having to worry about filling up. The trials have employed just two hydrogen refilling stations, but as few as 25-30 would comfortably cater for London’s entire taxi fleet.

“Having driven taxis for 40 years, this is the smoothest, quietest taxi I have ever driven… it’s absolutely fabulous”           –          Phil Davis & Ashley Blackburn The cabbies’ responses really speak for themselves, highlighting just how viable and practical a replacement they present for our zero emission future.

While 2018 may be the target, the technology is here now; ready to deliver clean and efficient fuel to London’s Black Cabs. Intelligent Energy’s fuel cell taxi boasts the range, performance and practicality of today’s cabs with the quieter travel and zero harmful emissions.

Picture this: Ready to scale at JSAE 2013

Last month, Intelligent Energy attended the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan (JSAE) Annual Spring Congress in Yokohama City, Japan.

The spring congress is the society’s technical paper presentation event where automotive engineers and researchers present the results of their latest researches and developments. The event coincided with the Automotive Engineering Exposition and was attended by 4,500 specialists with as many as 500 technical papers presented.

Established in 1947, the society aims to “promote scientific culture, expand the industrial economy, and improve the quality of people’s lives by furthering the development of automobile science and technology.”

This year’s event witnessed an ever greater focus on electric vehicles (EV), hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHV), with every automotive showcasing their kinetic energy recovery systems.

The team was on hand to discuss recent successes, including those of SMILE FC, the joint venture between Intelligent Energy and Suzuki Motor Corporation, which earlier in the year, established a ready-to-scale production plant for its fuel cell systems in Yokohama, Japan

Check out some of our images from the event below!

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JSAE Annual Spring Conference, Yokohama City, Japan

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UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) / British Embassy Trade & Investment Department

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Intelligent Energy booth at JSAE Annual Spring Conference, Yokohama City, Japan (both above)

Outlook for 2013 (Part 2): Automotive – Alternative Power

ImageIn the second part of our outlook series, we take a look at the emergence of the fuel cell electric alternative for the automotive industry.

Tailpipe emissions are responsible for numerous environmental and public health issues. As such, European Union legislation sets mandatory emission reduction targets for new cars. This legislation is the cornerstone of the EU’s strategy to improve the fuel economy of new cars sold on the European market.

The European Commission’s Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050 has agreed to cut emissions to 80% below 1990 levels through domestic reductions alone. The roadmap set outs various milestones, which form a pathway towards reaching this goal – reductions of 40% by 2030 and 60% by 2040. However, the move towards to low carbon society by 2050 will require a 95% decarbonisation of the road transport sector.

As it stands, the number of passenger cars is set to rise to 273 million in Europe – and to 2.5 billion worldwide by 2050. As such, full decarbonisation will not be achievable through improvements in the traditional internal combustion engine or the use of alternative fuels alone.

To date, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) have been the more popular of the alternative power solutions. However, ultra low-carbon electric power-trains featuring hydrogen fuel cells provide one of the most promising, practical and efficient options..

In recent months, a number of carmakers have bolstered their commitment to develop a commercially available fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV). Pike predicts that about 3,500 units will be shipped from the likes of Toyota, Daimler, Hyundai and Honda – primarily to companies that manage public and private fleets. Beyond 2013, Nissan has announced the TeRRA concept, a hydrogen fuel cell powered SUV; Mercedes is planning its fuel cell debut for 2014 with the B-Class F-CELL compact; Toyota and Hyundai have revealed they will release their fuel cell cars in 2015 with the FCV-R and ix35 respectively.

The advantage of fuel cell cars is shorter fuelling times and greater range. A battery-powered car will tend to have a limited real-world range and can take many hours to charge. In contrast a fuel cell car be driven for hundreds of miles and refuelled in minutes at the pump – much like conventional internal combustion engine vehicles. In short, FCEVs provide practical zero tail-pipe emission electric vehicles, with performances similar to existing vehicles, which do not require significant changes to consumers’ motoring behaviour, routine and performance expectations.

In a survey of carmaker executives conducted by KPMG, respondents expected that among electric vehicles, hybrids will have the highest customer demand by 2025, followed by FCEVs, outdoing the demand of battery only-powered cars.