03. August 2020 | 07:27 CET
Plug Power, Powercell Sweden, Royal Helium - why helium is facing hype
The world of noble gases has interesting applications and the number is growing. Helium and hydrogen are the most common elements in the universe and have a lower density than air. As an energy carrier and catalyst in combustion engines, hydrogen can be used in mobility to reduce CO2 emissions or as an energy storage medium so that fuel cells can generate electricity from the energy again. Hydrogen tanks can be used instead of batteries and are therefore particularly resource-saving - a major advantage over lithium batteries. Helium has a particularly large number of technical applications and in connection with digitalisation and the launch of space tourism, this inert gas has enormous potential.
time to read: 2 minutes by Mario Hose
Only green hydrogen offers advantages
The hydrogen companies Plug Power and Powercell Sweden have been enjoying the attention of the financial community for more than a year. The market value of Plug Power is currently EUR 2.1 billion and Powercell Sweden has more than EUR 1.6 billion. The two companies can contribute interesting and relevant basic technologies to the hydrogen ecosystem and are therefore in high demand by investors. However, it remains particularly important that the energy mix of the power utilities must come from almost 100% renewable energy sources in order to have a positive effect on the environmental balance.
Space tourism creates demand
The market for helium is developing very excitingly. This inert gas cannot be produced artificially and in various areas it cannot be replaced by other substances. The inert gas is extracted from deposits in the ground. It is needed 20% in the medical sector and 14% in manufacturing. Space travel will become a new growth market, as NASA is already the largest single customer for helium traders. Helium is needed for the pressure regulation of the fuel tanks during the take-off of rockets. Since the consumption of fuel can easily exceed 2,000 liters per second, the pressure in the tanks must be balanced by helium. Without helium a vacuum would be created and the tanks would probably rupture or the fuel supply would not be sufficient and the rocket would crash.
Visionaries are in the starting blocks
As interest in space travel increases and the number of launches increases, more helium is also needed. For the planned space tourism of Elon Musk with SpaceX and Richard Branson with Virgin, the demand will increase accordingly. The price of helium is usually regulated by supply and demand or the companies secure their own direct access to helium deposits. Royal Helium from Canada is a company that is preparing access to helium. The company claims to be one of the largest holders of helium projects in North America with more than 400,000 hectares of licenses for the inert gas. The company has already identified 12 targets for deposits in the fields. The drilling of one target is already being prepared.
Additional demand drives value
Royal Helium is currently valued on the stock exchange at around CAD 23.0 million. If successful, the shares have enormous potential, because the size of the area in Saskatchewan, where the first well is to be drilled, means that there are already several other targets. Investors who would like to participate in the expected demand for space travel thus have an indirect opportunity in the helium sector. Additional demand is also expected from increasing applications in connection with the digitalization and electrification of modern society. Due to the limited access to helium, the price of this inert gas is expected to rise and there will be takeovers in the sector.