Bremerhaven is familiar with pioneering work. When it comes to offshore wind energy, for example, Bremerhaven has developed comprehensive expertise and is home to internationally renowned research institutes. Directing this expertise towards research into new energy sources makes perfect sense.
Hydrogen is an ideal, environmentally friendly and climate-neutral alternative to fossil fuels, and it can be produced using wind power. One of the goals of Bremerhaven’s H2BX initiative is to raise awareness of fuel cells as an alternative to heavy and limited-capacity batteries in electric vehicles.
Using expertise in renewable energy for the next steps
Claas Schott’s response to the usual question about hydrogen and safety has almost become a reflex. “No, hydrogen is no more dangerous than petrol or natural gas, even if everybody immediately thinks of the burning Hindenburg Zeppelin whenever hydrogen is mentioned.” And nor is transporting the gas a problem: “Lorries carrying gas bottles or gas tanks have long been a common sight on our roads.” There is a good reason why Schott provides answers to this type of question before they are even asked – he wants to cut to the chase. Hydrogen is a climate-neutral and environmentally friendly energy source that is easy to produce and does not use up any natural resources.
Schott is the chairman of the H2BX – Wasserstoff für die Region Bremerhaven e.V. initiative. Three years after it was founded, the initiative’s work is already bearing fruit. Two companies are set to use a hydrogen-powered lorry in their businesses, and a shipyard and a shipping company are currently working on plans for a fuel-cell-powered pleasure boat. In autumn, Bremerhaven’s first hydrogen filling station is set to open following assurances to H2BX from companies and individuals that they will soon be purchasing over 40 hydrogen-powered vehicles in total. Considering that the Federal Motor Transport Authority’s records list around 400 hydrogen-powered vehicles across Germany, that would represent an impressive 10 per cent of all registrations.
Low-cost, eco-friendly power generation using wind energy
The 46-year-old engineer’s dedication to hydrogen and fuel-cell technology is rooted in his professional background. Before joining the technology laboratory of Bremerhaven’s University of Applied Sciences, Schott worked in the offshore wind energy sector in Bremerhaven and Cuxhaven, where his responsibilities included the planning and approval of large wind farms in the German Bight.
Despite the German government putting the brakes on expanding this form of climate-friendly power generation, Schott firmly believes that offshore wind power is vital to decarbonising the economy and to protecting the climate. In addition to the reliable and low-emission supply of electricity, the use of wind energy also offers a decisive advantage for hydrogen production. “Electricity generated through wind power is perfect for producing hydrogen as a fuel,” Schott explains.