HyWays for Future
What challenges did you face during the process of obtaining sufficient private funding for your project?
As the lead entity on the HyWays for Future project, EWEs main task is the conflation of the willingness to invest of different investors in the Hydrogen Valleys and along the hydrogen value chain. This requires a continuously high degree of communication and coordination with all involved stakeholders and project partners (around 90 in total), especially in the run up of funding applications and funding approvals. The new element or the next "evolutionary step" of the HyWays4Future project is the combination of different value chain elements into one project (e.g. green hydrogen production, refueling stations, fleets of urban buses, FCEVs, etc.) – as it is for many German Hydrogen Valleys co-funded by the Federal Government and German State Governments (HyLand, HyStarter). Typically, each stakeholder individually is quite certain about his own project – the essential challenge is to bring all of them together to bring complexity, scale and commercial model to the next level (for example combining the volumes of hydrogen consumption of multiple mobility operators).
What specific measures did you take to overcome these challenges?
In a nutshell, we considered two things important: Building a large-enough, high-quality partnership and focusing on a business case where clean hydrogen is closest to competitiveness, i.e. mobility. In the early phase of our project, we connected with a large number local and regional players that could become potentially valuable long-term partners – and that also could be part of short-term viable business cases in hydrogen mobility. As a result, we were able to meet our self-set targets of a strong partnership (meeting our minimum requirements for quantity and quality).
Furthermore, we ensured that our collaborations initiated a coverage of the whole mobility value chain, keeping in mind that investments into one part of the hydrogen sector will always depend on the development of the other parts, e.g. investments into FCEVs requiring simultaneous investments into hydrogen production, distribution and refueling stations.
What learnings can other projects take away from your experience?
The key learning for emerging Hydrogen Valleys is to build a growing network along the value chain very early on and to keep investing into the collaboration of stakeholders. Additionally, we believe that a high degree of "competition" among regional hydrogen players can become counterproductive in an early market phase. Instead, a sense of broad and cooperative thinking should be in focus to help get larger and more integrated projects off the ground. Here, "coordination" itself is a critical asset for a hydrogen valley project.
The next step for us now is to connect our Hydrogen Valley with other regions that are already active in the hydrogen sphere. The overall hydrogen market will not scale up further as a mere agglomeration of "islands" – for the market, the value of the Valleys together will be larger than just the sum of all projects. Thus, the overarching goal of the Hydrogen Valley concept should be to ultimately provide links between Valleys and ensure a continuous expansion of activities.