Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI – Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur) provides €5 million in funding for 505 fuel cell systems Remote maintenance, uninterruptible and reliable in the event of a crisis: Fuel cell technology secures critical infrastructures for fire brigades, police and disaster relief The environmentally friendly fuel cell excels over diesel in practice Market-relevant phase to begin after research and development

Berlin, 5 November 2019 – In the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Hesse and Saxony, a total of 505 radio masts will be equipped with fuel cell technology. Following successful completion of the tenders and the granting of funding by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI – Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur), on-site implementation is now underway. “The research and development projects were successful – now the market-relevant phase of the fuel cell technology as a backup power supply is beginning,” explains Dr. Henrik Colell, spokesperson of the Clean Power Net (CPN) fuel cell network.

Digital radio today, data centers tomorrow: Follow-on effects for other applications

According to Colell, the expansion of BOS digital radio networks marks an important milestone for the entire industry. “In addition to applications in BOS and telecommunications, fuel cells are already being used in small numbers in traffic control systems, data centers and industrial facilities. Here, too, the funding can constitute an important step towards increasing quantities.” Colell says that the success in the digital radio communications for public authorities proves how important financial support for market activation will remain in the future. “Funding programs are the preliminary stage to the market ramp-up. On the one hand, they support technically mature but not yet fully competitive products. On the other hand, they secure Germany’s place in international competition for this technology of the future.”

Specifically, 200 digital radio systems in Baden-Württemberg will be equipped with fuel cell technology, 180 in Bavaria, 60 in Hesse, 56 in Brandenburg and nine in Saxony. The radio systems, which use fuel cells instead of diesel generators in the event of a power failure, can supply uninterrupted power for up to 72 hours and can be serviced remotely.

Environmentally friendly: Zero CO2 emissions

With regard to the climate debate, Clean Power Net says that the fuel cell is more convincing than conventional solutions with diesel generators for several reasons. Neither CO2 nor particle emissions are produced. In addition, there is no degradation in the fuel. This means that while diesel can clump over a longer service period and must be completely replaced and disposed of as hazardous waste every two years, hydrogen boasts significantly better storage properties. Another advantage: Fuel cell technology produces no noise emissions and can therefore also be deployed in residential areas.

Call for more funding support and long-term investment decisions

The most recent 5 million euros in funding support is the result of a call for funding from the previous year for the Market Activation Guideline within the scope of the National Innovation Programme Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP II). Against the backdrop of successful market activation in digital public radio, the CPN is aiming for a further call for funding from the BMVI for 2020.

Moreover, industry representatives call for a more long-term view when making investment decisions. All too often, procurement decisions are currently based on short-term considerations. Instead of an investment cost calculation, a total cost consideration over the lifetime of the system should be used more frequently. Here, the fuel cell usually scores better than the diesel generator. In addition, the replacement power supply needs to be planned and designed more specifically to meet individual requirements. Many systems are often be oversized and not designed according to the actual power requirement, resulting in unnecessary additional costs. Furthermore, fuel cell systems can also be modularly planned and retrofitted.