The Bosch company in Homburg hopes to lead the market for hydrogen, which is seen as the energy source of the future. Bosch believed that the Saarland state government ought to participate in this as well.
Several photovoltaic systems are already present at the Bosch facility in Homburg. Here is where solar energy is produced, which may then be used to electrolyze water to separate it into its two components, water, and oxygen, to create green, environmentally beneficial hydrogen. The Bosch system also includes a dispersed fuel cell, a compressor at a filling station, and a storage system. In this, the hydrogen’s energy is transformed into electricity through a chemical process, which ultimately results in the production of new water. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has provided one million euros toward the establishment of this Bosch Hydrogen Competence Center. The Saarbrücken Institute for Future Energy Systems serves as the scientific advisor (IZES).
In the Bosch factory, the electrolyzer presently generates about 20 metric tons of green hydrogen annually. It is employed, among other places, in the hardening shop where steel components are heated once again to increase their wear resistance. It also powers automobiles and, soon, the company bus, as well as industrial conveyors like electric carts and forklifts. Also, according to the business, Bosch’s hydrogen may be used to meet peak electrical demand.
New business opportunities in the hydrogen technology sector
Furthermore, according to Oliver Frei, the commercial plant manager, Bosch has already “opened up new business opportunities in the realm of hydrogen technology” at Homburg. Products for hydrogen tank systems and mobile fuel cells are now in use or will do so soon. This industry currently employs about 300 people.
Anke Rehlinger, the prime minister, stated, “Our objective is for Saarland to play a leading position in the production, use, and transportation of hydrogen” (SPD). Because the Saarland steel industry already has a sizable customer who wants to use hydrogen to build steel, the production of which scarcely emits the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, this has become a necessary precondition. “Saarland’s connection to the proposed European hydrogen network” is crucial, according to Rehlinger.
The Bosch Group plans to make significant investments in the creation and growth of its hydrogen infrastructure. Uwe Gackstatter, the board member in charge of Bosch Mobility, made this announcement. He emphasized, “We plan to invest one billion euros in fuel cells for mobile applications, 2024 million euros in fuel cells for dispersed applications, and another 500 million euros in hydrogen electrolysis by 2030. The Bosch mobility business sector, which Gackstatter is in charge of, earned approximately 52.6 billion euros in revenue last year, which is up to 60% of the Group’s total revenue.
Bosch requests that Saarland make decisions
To considerably expedite the creation of a hydrogen infrastructure through private and governmental investments, the proper political direction must now be defined, according to the former commercial director of the Homburg plant. This includes infrastructure for gas stations as well as the potential to heat buildings with hydrogen. For him, it is crucial that the political conversation of future mobility be handled in an open-minded, technological manner. He believes that concentrating just on electric was a mistake. “Battery-powered vehicles cannot manage about 40% of future transportation services.” The transformation of industry and transportation towards carbon neutrality “must proceed without structural breakdowns,” according to the statement. Transitions take time.
The Homburg plant’s technical manager, Stefan Hamelmann, recalled that hydrogen could be transported and stored. Green hydrogen “can become the energy carrier of the future when combined with rapid structural development.” Gackstatter shared this opinion and illustrated it metaphorically by holding up two bottles of water and champagne. Because it is (still) expensive and scarce, particularly if it is produced using electricity from the sun or wind, hydrogen is often referred to as the “champagne of the energy transition” by opponents of a full hydrogen economy. The Bosch manager, though, is certain that it will become “the bottled water of the energy transition” due to its wide range of applications.