30. July 2020 | 05:50 CET
ITM Power, Nikola, Royal Helium - why investors are buying in now
Hydrogen is an interesting energy storage medium for modern ground mobility. The decisive factor for environmental protection, however, is the way in which the energy source is obtained. Green hydrogen is produced from renewable energy sources, i.e. electricity is used for its production, which is generated by wind turbines, solar panels or hydroelectric power. Helium is becoming increasingly important for mobility in space, because the inert gas cannot be produced artificially, but is needed to control rockets. This is a multi-billion-dollar business in which the money for innovations is very loose, especially when there is no substitute.
time to read: 2 minutes by Mario Hose
Helium enables technical features
When SpaceX and NASA in Florida lift a spaceship into the atmosphere, about 2 tons of fuel are consumed per second. Helium is used to control this process by regulating the pressure in the tanks. NASA has been the largest single customer for helium in the market for several years. Overall, however, 20% of the global supply is required in the health sector. Magnetic resonance imaging, also known as MRI, is the most prominent application of helium. 14% of the inert gas is used for welding.
Rare and especially important
There is no substitute for helium in most applications and fields of use and helium can only be extracted at great expense from underground deposits. The inert gas is often found with natural gas, but the concentration is usually less than 5%. So, anyone who discovers and produces this strategically relevant raw material can count on increasing prices as demand rises. There is no real market for helium because the number of participants on the supply side is small and buyers such as Air Liquide and Linde control sales.
Space offers potential
According to the University of Edinburgh, 1 BCF of helium still has a production value of about USD 286 million, based on the last publicly quoted price at the US Bureau of Land Management auction in 2018, so anyone sitting on helium can negotiate with their potential buyers or simply be taken over. Royal Helium has reported that it has acquired about 400,000 hectares of properties in North America and has already identified 12 drill targets. The company is one of the largest property holders in North America with this amount of land.
With a current market capitalization of approximately CAD 20 million, the company has the potential to succeed. Royal Helium already seems to have aroused the interest of investors. The price and trading volume have been rising for several weeks.
Is the hydrogen hype over?
With a strong market value of EUR 1.3 billion, the plant manufacturer ITM Power is riding the hydrogen wave. The shares were already traded at over EUR 4.00 in the previous month - last year the value was still around EUR 0.40. In the meantime, however, interest has cooled off again and the shares change hands at below EUR 3.00. The value of the hydrogen truck manufacturer Nikola has lost more than 60% in value in the past two months. At the beginning of June, the shares were still traded at over EUR 70.00 and are currently trading at around EUR 26.00. At this price, however, the value of the company is still just under EUR 10 billion.