April 19, 2024
Bosch is investing 2.5 billion euros in hydrogen technologies

dThe Bosch electronics group intends to invest 2.5 billion euros in hydrogen technologies over the next three years. At a press conference at the Stuttgart-Feuerbach plant, which has so far mainly produced components for internal combustion engines, company boss Stefan Hartung announced that he would supply equipment for the production, transport and use of the carrier chemical energy. This includes electrolysers for production, as well as compressors needed for pipeline transport and for service stations.

For use in traffic, the Stuttgart-based company is developing both fuel cell drives and combustion engines that have been converted to hydrogen. In addition, there are both high-temperature fuel cells for stationary energy and heat generation and condensing boilers for heating buildings. Overall, Hartung estimated the sales potential at €5 billion in 2030, which would be around 5% of total sales if the company meets its growth targets by then.

“Then the electrolyser only works when the wind blows”

Approximately two-thirds of the investment volume, which includes development work, is accounted for by fuel cell drives. Production of a fuel cell system for commercial vehicles is currently starting in parallel in Germany and China. The first customer is the American manufacturer Nikola, which indicates that initially the quantities will be small. The same transmission will subsequently power Iveco trucks. Bosch predicts that by 2030, one in five heavy commercial vehicles will be equipped with a fuel cell engine. Additional production facilities are to be built in the USA. For internal combustion engines converted to hydrogen, Bosch supplies, among other things, the injection system and the electronic engine control. According to Stuttgart, there have been four series orders so far and six-figure quantities are expected by the end of the decade.

Hartung urgently warned that European politics must create the conditions to remain attractive as a location in the rapidly growing market, especially compared to the United States. The Bosch boss made specific demands: hydrogen production in Europe should be promoted rather than hindered. He considers it a serious mistake that at the moment only electricity from plants built for this purpose can be used. “So the electrolyser only works when the wind blows,” explains Hartung. This scares off potential investors. Furthermore, buyers of electric cars and heat pumps are not told to use only renewable electricity.

Hydrogen to guarantee employment

According to Hartung, as generation capacity in Europe is limited, international supply chains should be created. That hydrogen imports should only be allowed from countries that have actual CO2-Price, he considers questionable. Furthermore, Germany needs to do more to build a hydrogen infrastructure. And last but not least, politicians should promote the use of hydrogen in all sectors of the economy, including transport. The latter is particularly controversial, but the new version of the hydrogen strategy, not yet adopted by the federal government, does so.

If the accelerated entry into hydrogen technology is successful, it could also help secure jobs for Bosch. Bosch executives have repeatedly confirmed that the production of electric drives would require only a tenth of the employees who currently build components for combustion engines. In the production of fuel cell drives, seven out of ten jobs were retained in production. In early July, Bosch reached an agreement with employees that excludes layoffs at German locations for the vehicle sector until 2027.

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