Saxon Application Among Finalists in Selection for National Hydrogen Center

 Saxony’s application for the establishment of the national hydrogen technology center was convincing in the first round of the nationwide competition – Now the final phase begins, in which the remaining three applicants will compete in feasibility studies

Überschrift 1: The HIC – Hydrogen and Mobility Innovation Center includes a state-of-the-art vehicle laboratory, a hydrogen certification center, test benches for fuel cells as well as a training center and an experience lab.Graphic: HZwo

The concept from Saxony, submitted under the name Hydrogen and Mobility Innovation Center – HIC for short – was successful in the first selection round for the national technology and innovation center for hydrogen technology for mobility applications. In the second phase of the selection process, feasibility studies will now follow for the three finalists, which will be evaluated by experts from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI).

The HIC is backed by a broad alliance of established Saxon companies, research institutions, universities, state politicians, and associations. These include BMW, the automotive supplier Vitesco Technologies, the technical universities in Chemnitz and Dresden, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the innovation cluster HZwo – Drive for Saxony, and a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with around 10,000 jobs. Companies from Thuringia and Bavaria are also part of the HIC alliance.

The HIC players have proven expertise in hydrogen technologies along the entire value chain. “The second phase in the selection process is a visible recognition that a cluster for hydrogen technologies has emerged in the region over the last two decades. We now have a critical mass, making us attractive to new players who are now entering the hydrogen field,” explains Karl Lötsch, managing director of HZwo e.V. and spokesman for the HIC alliance.

In the future, the HIC will build the bridge between research and value creation. The plan is to lift hydrogen mobility out of the laboratory and small-scale production and into medium-sized and large-scale production. In addition, an environment will be created for start-ups in which they can work and grow with high-profile companies and research institutions on new business models and products for the hydrogen economy.

In addition to the climate policy aspects and the contribution of hydrogen technologies to the decarbonization of the European economy, the HIC will make a significant contribution to leveraging promising value creation potential and creating attractive jobs. “We are in an excellent position, such as in electrolysis for green hydrogen production and in fuel cell drives. Our goal is for Germany to maintain its global pioneering role in hydrogen technologies and for us to benefit from a global market worth billions for cleantech ‘Made in Germany,’” says alliance spokesman Karl Lötsch. A corresponding internationalization and networking strategy is already being planned.

Saxony’s Minister President Michael Kretschmer on the selection of Saxony’s application: “I am very pleased that the concept of HZwo e.V. for the ‘Hydrogen and Mobility Innovation Center’ has impressed the BMVI and its experts. This is a great success for Saxony. The companies and research institutions involved have shown that they are among the most creative and innovative in the field of hydrogen mobility in Germany. The Saxon state government will actively support the development of the center that will now follow. The hydrogen market is growing worldwide. It is important in Saxony to continue to join all forces in order to be able to compete internationally.”

Saxony’s Minister of Economic Affairs Martin Dulig says of the successful preselection: “A fundamental change is taking place in mobility; new forms of propulsion are gaining ground. The Free State is actively shaping this transformation process. In the field of electromobility, Saxony is already the No. 1 production location in Germany. In the same way, we want to be at the forefront and set an example in the use of hydrogen – as a building block for sustainable mobility and for the defossilization of industry. We are now a big step closer to our goal of bringing the federal hydrogen center to Saxony. I congratulate all those involved on this interim success and assure them of the full support of the Free State of Saxony in the additional application process.”

Hans-Peter Kemser, Head of the BMW Group Plant Leipzig emphasizes: “We are pleased that the cooperation of the partners from research, industry, and politics involved in the HIC – Hydrogen and Mobility Innovation Center has started successfully. By reaching the next stage in the selection process to become a national technology and innovation center for hydrogen technology, a significant milestone has been reached. We assume that Saxony, with its closely networked automotive competence cluster and existing activities in the field of hydrogen technology, will also score points in the feasibility study that is now due to be conducted. The BMW Group will continue to support the application to the best of its ability, because hydrogen will play an important role in the future as a storable and transportable energy carrier, both in our automobiles and in production. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles enable unrestricted emission-free mobility with the same usage behavior as conventional vehicles. And in our plant, green hydrogen enables the implementation of the vision of complete decarbonization of production.”

Prof. Dr. Thomas von Unwerth, Head of the Department of Advanced Powertrains at Chemnitz University of Technology and Chairman of the Board of HZwo e.V. as well as the initiator of the application, is pleased to have reached the next phase: “I am now very optimistic that with the local boundary conditions and the broad support of politics, society, companies, and research institutions, we will be able to further expand hydrogen technology in Saxony. This is an important step in developing Chemnitz into a central competence location in Germany.”

Prof. Dr. Gerd Strohmeier, President of Chemnitz University of Technology, added: “I am extremely pleased about the success and would like to congratulate my Chemnitz colleague Prof. Dr. Thomas von Unwerth, his team, and all those involved very warmly on this great achievement. We will do everything in our power to bring the nationwide Technology and Innovation Center for Hydrogen Technology for Mobility Applications to Chemnitz.”

Bundled expertise for hydrogen technologies and fuel cell drives

The HIC – Hydrogen and Mobility Innovation Center bundles the competence and expertise of the participating partners from industry, top-level research, associations, and education for the establishment of a value-added network for hydrogen technologies and fuel cell drives. Thus, a state-of-the-art vehicle laboratory, a hydrogen certification center, test benches for fuel cells as well as an advanced training center, and an Experience Lab on an international level are to be established at the Chemnitz site. This center also offers start-ups ideal opportunities to establish themselves and grow. The innovation cluster “HZwo – Drive for Saxony,” with its many years of experience and expertise, will be responsible for coordination.

Chemnitz – ideal location for hydrogen technologies

The Chemnitz location already has an excellent and established research infrastructure due to the intensive cooperation between the Department of Advanced Powertrains at Chemnitz University of Technology and the Fraunhofer Institutes IWU and ENAS. For example, in 2019 and 2020, investments by Vitesco Technologies and the Free State of Saxony alone in hydrogen technologies at Chemnitz University of Technology and Fraunhofer IWU amounted to around eleven million euros.

In addition, the site has an already developed plot of land with 37,000 m² of space on the technology campus and in the direct vicinity of Chemnitz University of Technology, Fraunhofer, and the start-ups at the Smart Systems Campus. Furthermore, more than 600 hectares are available for further industrial settlements.

The HIC is supported by hydrogen expertise at the TU Dresden and the Smart Rail Connectivity Campus (SRCC), where Chemnitz University of Technology conducts research and drives innovations in Annaberg-Buchholz in close cooperation with Deutsche Bahn AG. At the Chemnitz site, all the prerequisites are thus already perfectly in place for the HIC to start work as early as 2021.

Dates, schedule, and additional information

The digital press kit can be found here: https://hzwo.eu/media/HIC-Pressemappe.pdf

Details on the German government’s location competition for the Hydrogen Technology and Innovation Center: https://www.bmvi.de/SharedDocs/DE/Pressemitteilungen/2021/042-scheuer-deutschland-wird-wasserstoffland.html