The start of the EU summer was coloured by many events that, slide upon slide upon slide, pointed to the need to not only push EU’s politics to new boundaries but also its energy or transport system to more efficient horizons. The 21st World Hydrogen Energy Conference from June 13-16, 2016, in the city of light and innovation Zaragoza, will go down as another demonstration of Spanish expertise and dedication to hydrogen and fuel cells as a smart and clean enabler of its large scale renewable energy ambition. The presence of a fleet of BMW and Toyota  fuel cell cars , the largest at a WHEC to date (!) demosntrated that hydrogen is here to stay and ready to switch gears quietely into mainstream energy transition discussions convincing finally also the Spanish government that linking Spain to the french Hyways can no longer wait.

The week after at the TEN T Days, June 21 -23 in Rotterdam  Europe’s increasing  fuel cell bus fleet presented was featured as an important backbone of refuelling infrastructure build up.  The TEN T  innovation call towards the end of this year is eagerly awaited to continue the development of H2 refuelling infrastructure.

The last week of June featured several events featuring the new smart grid of Europe: CEPS presented its recent study on Investment signals for the low carbon eletricity sector indicating that by 2030, roughly 50% of conventional capacity could be on stand-by for 80% of the year, thus mainly serving as back-up. “Their risk profile will be similar to today’s peaking plants: fixed and investment costs would have to be recovered from revenues created during a very low number of running hours, i.e. a higher-than-ever dependency on rare scarcity events, implying a high uncertainty of future cash flows. The 2014 cash flow of a modern coal-fired plant for example was more than 60% below the required level for full cost recovery. Another challenge is that the exact level of back-up capacity required is subject to greater uncertainty than today, because this level depends on the pace of deploying renewables and its mix as well as technological developments. It is not trivial to forecast the pace of deployment, because this development is policy-driven.”

“System operators are in the starting blocks to plug in the reservoirs of flexibility that demand response, storage, digitalisation and link up between distribution and transmission represent”, stated ENTSO-E Chair of the Board, Bente Hagem as she opened the EU conference on innovation in grids, InnoGrid2020+ from June 27-28. “We count on the Commission to anchor innovation in its upcoming legislative proposal. It’s a necessity”. “Distributors of electric power, transmission system operators, and the entire world relying on the classic business model bringing electricity to our sockets is changing in full swing. We are confident that Europe’s forthcoming package will give the power sector the extra push it needs to act on its transformation”, said Joao Torres, Chairman of EDSO for Smart Grids.

(Photo courtesy Emeryville hydrogen station near Berkeley California)