July 15th, 2022 | 14:27 CEST
Renewable energies in action: ThyssenKrupp, Altech Advanced Materials, Plug Power - Who is winning the race?
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Born in Bielefeld, she studied German, English and psychology. The emergence of the Internet in the early '90s led her from university to training in graphic design and marketing communications. After years of agency work in corporate branding, she switched to publishing and learned her editorial craft at Hubert Burda Media.
ThyssenKrupp AG - Jolting through the transition to a CO₂-free company
In Germany's Ruhr region, ThyssenKrupp AG is one of twenty companies that plan to use green hydrogen for the ongoing operation of their steel production plants in the near future. An upcoming cooperation with bp and its subsidiary ThyssenKrupp Steel was announced with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) this week. Together, the companies plan to focus on developing a long-term supply of low-carbon hydrogen and renewable energy in steel production. Together, the two companies will explore supply options for blue and green hydrogen, as well as electricity from wind and solar power under power purchase agreements.
But a quick technical solution to replace natural gas is not in sight. The steel giant is currently facing several setbacks. For example, the EU court in Luxembourg is insisting on the European Commission's decision in June 2019 to continue blocking a planned European steel joint venture between Tata Steel and ThyssenKrupp Steel due to competition concerns. The planned IPO of the in-house green hydrogen spin-off Nucera has also been postponed until further notice.
If we look at the latest figures, the Company seems to continue to clean up internally. The Group has adjusted EBIT of 4% to 6%, clearly positive FCF before M&A and loyal investors can still look forward to a dividend. A look at debt shows the Company has more than EUR 8 billion in available liquidity, of which EUR 6.5 billion is in cash and cash equivalents, almost twice the Company's total liabilities (excluding leases). There will still be some jolts from the current questionable security of supply, but the Group is well equipped.
Altech Advanced Materials AG - Pilot project for high-performance batteries starts in Germany
For those who already own an electric car, the most important question is: how far can I get from A to B on one battery charge? And those who intend to buy a new e-car are also thinking about mileage and charging capacity - all for a good price-performance ratio. The current drive system of choice is a lithium-ion battery.
The structure of this battery for the electric car is identical to the structure of batteries for domestic use. There is a positive and a negative side to the battery. When the lithium ions are charged, they go into the negative side, which is currently made of graphite. Once these lithium ions are discharged, about 10% form a kind of layer on the graphite, which is how the battery loses capacity. Elon Musk's idea of replacing the graphite with silicon increases the battery's performance but does not prevent deposits on the anode.
German company Altech Advanced Materials AG has developed a real gamechanger for this problem. The Company's solution is to coat the battery's anode material with a nanolayer of aluminium oxide made of ceramic. It is another 520-nanometer thick layer of aluminium oxide that prevents the loss of lithium ions while the battery still functions properly.
The pilot project is being carried out at the German site with the metallurgy company Küttner. The pilot plant is designed to produce 120 kg of battery anode material per day coated with Altech's product "Silumina Anodes".
The cost of the pilot plant is expected to be approximately USD 7.1 million, of which USD 5.3 million will be funded by subsidiary Altech (75% owner) and USD 1.7 million by Altech Advanced Materials AG (25% owner). If the sheathing is successful, a future key industry will be created in Germany.
Plug Power secures deal in Canada
Across the Atlantic, the hunt for the best renewable energy supply continues. US-based Plug Power is a leading provider of turnkey hydrogen solutions for the global green hydrogen economy. The Americans have now secured a deal in Canada. The client is the internationally active Company Irving Oil. The project will involve producing and distributing hydrogen using a 5-megawatt (MW) containerized electrolysis system with proton exchange membrane (PEM) at the refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.
Plug Power's applied electrolyzer technology enables Irving Oil to produce 2 tons of hydrogen per day for refinery operations. Plug Power's technology is helping the client gradually convert its hydrogen production to carbon-free green hydrogen. "Demand for green hydrogen is growing as companies that previously relied on other forms of hydrogen realize the opportunity to meet net-zero emissions targets," said Andy Marsh, Plug's CEO. "We are honored that Irving Oil has selected us to support its first investment in electrolytic hydrogen production because of our leading electrolyzer technology and unparalleled production capacity. We look forward to expanding the partnership."
In stock market terms, the Plug Power stock saw its share price fall 42% this year. Management blamed rising natural gas prices, which impacted margins in the fuel business. The share has an EPS ratio of 18, as the Company is not yet profitable.
Steel giants like ThyssenKrupp are in the midst of change. The pace is being picked up significantly due to the threat to supply security in Germany, and so far, the Company is well equipped for the change. However, no significant growth can be expected in the next few months, as up until now, with partner bp, the focus has been on testing and exploring rather than actively implementing. In contrast, Plug Power is actively doing business despite poor numbers. The Company is supporting one of Canada's largest refineries owned by Irving Oil with the supply and installation of a 5-megawatt (MW) containerized electrolysis system to produce green hydrogen. Doing so will help the refinery make the switch to CO₂-neutral energy for production. Energy and propulsion are also the topics of the day at Altech Advanced Materials AG. Its proprietary solution for coating graphite or silicon in electric batteries can immensely expand the performance and service life of the batteries. The pilot for the plant is starting at the site in Germany, offering a future-proof key industry in the middle of Europe.
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