Green intralogistics 2020: Fuel cells play a key role in sustainable mobility in the new decade The CIN network, founded in 2016, grows to 14 members Battery-electric vehicles alone cannot solve the CO2 emission problem Heavy-duty vehicles need alternative drive concepts such as hydrogen-operated fuel cells

Berlin, 31 January 2020 – The German fuel cell sector is starting the new year reinvigorated. The industry network Clean Intralogistics Net (CIN), which specifically aims to advance fuel cell technology in intralogistics, is welcoming a renowned new member, the Schaeffler Group. The automotive and industry supplier has 89,000 employees worldwide and in the past year generated a turnover of around 14.2 billion euros. There are now 14 companies with a total turnover of around 500 billion euros and 1 billion staff organizing themselves within the CIN innovation cluster, supported by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

“Industry clusters like the CIN are gaining enormous importance in global competition – for the industry and also for Germany as a location. Mobility is currently experiencing a new beginning. The intralogistics area can already now provide the blueprint for many questions about future mobility”, explains Wolfgang Axthammer, Managing Director of NOW GmbH and CIN initiator. The aim of the network is the market introduction and market penetration of industrial trucks and airport apron tractors with fuel cells along with the associated hydrogen infrastructure.

Key to this is a constant exchange of experience between the partners in the network as well as joint actions, such as the organising of regular user symposia. Although in North America there are considerably more warehouses, depots and production plants serviced by fuel cell-operated industrial trucks than in Europe, Germany is still playing in the first league in terms of technology.

According to Axthammer: “With access to Schaeffler and the existing know-how of CIN partners in the areas of fuel cell systems, components, hydrogen infrastructure and industrial trucks, we can significantly move the topic forward, right along the entire value chain.”

The global automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler is a steering member of the globally-operating Hydrogen Council since January 2020. The initiative consists of 81 leading companies from the areas of energy, transport as well as industry with the objective of driving hydrogen technology further forward towards industrialization. In addition Schaeffler is cofounder of Wasserstoffbündnis Bayern (Bavarian Hydrogen Alliance). Founded in the autumn of 2019 together with Bavarian Minister President Markus Söder, the alliance aims to unite climate protection, energy, mobility and technological innovations on a regional level in order to better exploit the potential of hydrogen technology as a future energy source.

“Alternative energy sources such as green hydrogen, which are not only emission-free, but also a significant component in the defossilisation of other industry sectors, will play an important role in a sustainable energy system of the future”, says Stefan Gossens, Manager of Innovation Program Energy Storage and Conversion at Schaeffler. Among other things the company develops so-called metallic bipolar plates with the aim of industrial mass production and therefore key components for fuel cell stacks. With 77 production plants, Schaeffler is also a potential user of fuel cell-operated industrial trucks.

Experts acknowledge the huge potential of fuel cells. “Battery-electric mobility will play an important role in reducing emissions and in decarbonisation. However not all areas of mobility can be covered. Hydrogen together with fuel cells offers an excellent alternative which goes far beyond automotive applications. As an automotive and industry supplier we consider all applications, from heavy load solutions in the transport sector through to rail, shipping or aerospace applications and also to intralogistics solutions. Ten thousand hydrogen forklifts and other industrial trucks already now demonstrate on a daily basis, that using hydrogen and fuel cells in large quantities is feasible and useful. This contributes to sustainable production and is, of course, also interesting from the perspective of being a supplier of hydrogen technology”, says Gossens.

The technology has many advantages. Industrial trucks with fuel cell technology used in logistics can make considerable CO2 savings. “Through short load cycles, a high level of safety and robustness, above all productivity can be increased while reducing storage space and loading times”, says Axthammer.

About Clean Intralogistics Net (CIN)
Clean Intralogistics Net was founded by eight companies in 2016 to sustainably accelerate the use of fuel cell technology. NOW GmbH National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology is the initiator of the network. Today 14 partners, which are globally-operating corporations, are organised within CIN. The VDMA (Mechanical Engineering Industry Association) is an associated partner.