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Hydrogen Technology Expo in Bremen: Why the world is looking towards Bremen when it comes to hydrogen

Ein Bild von der Hydrogen Technology Expo in Bremen. Es gibt mehrere Stände und viele Menschen laufen herum.

volle Gänge

Hydrogen Technology Expo Europe is the largest trade fair for suppliers of hydrogen technologies. It takes place in the Hanseatic city of Bremen every September. The big names in this sector will meet up there, once again, on September 27th and 28th 2023.

The expected 8,000 or so visitors and 450 exhibitors will be greeted with a cheerful "Moin!", "Salut", "How are you?" or even "Konnichiwa". Since 2021, this trade fair in Bremen has been a fixture in the sector's calendar of events.

In addition to companies in the hydrogen sector, such as Air Liquide from France, Linde from Germany or NEL from Norway, businesses from other industries such as mechanical engineering, supply, electrical technology, transport and automation will showcase their latest endeavours, projects and products. This also includes "usage“, in, for example, the chemicals industry and "storage" in, for example, old gas fields.

The exhibition zone will be complemented by an extensive conference programme with almost 200 presentations about every aspect of the hydrogen and carbon-capture business. CEOs, CTOs and Chief Engineers from the best-known companies in the sector will take to the stage and be ready to answer questions, either in plenary sessions or during coffee breaks.

Hydrogen Technology Expo Europe 2022 in figures

Getting hydrogen on the right path

Everyone shares the same goal: to drive the hydrogen economy forward. Climate-neutral hydrogen is regarded as an essential part of a low CO2-emissions future. This volatile gas will be the central energy source of the future in the chemicals industry, in steel production, for transportation in the maritime and aviation industries or for use either directly, as a gas, or as an e-fuel, after processing. (This will also be one of the five main topics covered by the trade fair and the conference.)

A massive restructuring of global energy systems is needed if we are to achieve this. DNV, the classification society, forecasts that this will require global investments of 6.8 billion US dollars by 2050. According to analyses performed by pwc, the goal of producing green hydrogen at a cost of one dollar per kilogramme by 2050 will trigger an exponential growth in global demand by 2030 at the latest. However, the new technical developments and investment programmes which are paving the way for this technology will also be the impetus for significant growth in the hydrogen economy world-wide, in the run up to 2030.

"Hydrogen is currently the crucial global topic and will continue to be so in the coming years. The next few years look incredibly exciting. We hope that our trade fair will make a contribution to the development of key technologies and the reducing of costs for suppliers. By doing this, we'll get closer to achieving a functioning hydrogen economy every year", explained Charlie Brandon, Hydrogen Technology Expo Europe's Event Director.

Hydrogen Technology Expo 2022 – a statement of international cooperation

In 2022, Hydrogen Expo in Bremen took a major step forward in this direction. With record numbers of participants (6,500) and 350 exhibiting companies, the event attracted twice as many visitors as the previous year, making it the world's largest hydrogen trade fair for suppliers.

The focus was firmly on international knowledge transfer and cooperation because the end of most travel restrictions led to a significant increase in visitors from abroad. "The creation of a hydrogen economy can only be achieved on a global scale. For this reason, we want to establish international networks and cooperative ventures, rooted in Bremen, at as early a stage as possible. In the spirit of the Hanseatic League, which connected the countries of the North Sea for hundreds of years, the trade fair in Bremen brings the world together", said Hans-Georg Tschupke, Head of the Department for Innovation, Industry and Digitalisation at the Ministry of Economics, Labor and Ports.

Bremen enters into H2 partnerships with Norway, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands

Kristina Vogt, Bremen's Senator for Economics, Labor and Ports used the trade fair as an opportunity to welcome Torgeir Larsen, the Norwegian Ambassador, to Bremen. They had already met each other in the middle of June 2022, at the 1st German-Norwegian Hydrogen Forum in Hamburg, at which an agreement about closer cooperation between Bremen and the other North German Federal States (German) was also signed. It was at this event that the Norwegian business development agency and Bremen's own business development agency signed a memorandum of understanding about future cooperative ventures. In the same month, Bremen Chamber of Commerce organised a trip to Norway for a number of delegates.

The "North Meets North Hydrogen Dialogue", to be held during the Expo, is yet another opportunity for international knowledge-sharing. This meeting was organised jointly by the British Department of Trade and Industry and HY-5, the Green Hydrogen Initiative of Northern Germany. Both regions face similar challenges, for example, the future of existing heavy industry, but also have similar structural opportunities thanks to their geographic position and potential for innovation. In 2023, Great Britain will also play a prominent role at the trade fair with its shared stand. Many other involved parties will attend and continue the dialog started last year.

An agreement on close cooperation between Bremen and the city of Groningen in the Netherlands had already been signed last year. Groningen's Mayor, Koen Schuilling, also attended the event, accompanied by delegates from businesses and scientific institutions. The "Bremen meets Groningen Workshop" which ran in parallel to the trade fair, provided an excellent forum for networking and knowledge-sharing with local companies.

"There is an enormous amount of interest in trans-national exchanges. We saw that clearly at the  Enterprise-Europe-Network (EEN) event at the trade fair, during which more than 435 individual meetings took place", added Karsten Schmitt, Speaker for the Hydrogen Economy Office.

2023 will see yet another major increase in the number of international participants. Even larger shared stands will be taken by Korea, the Kobe region in Japan, the Netherlands and the UK. The "world map" of hydrogen is filling up. Japan is of particular interest as a hydrogen location because 24 percent of all the hydrogen patents issued between 2011 and 2020 came from there (German).

Hydrogen Technology Expo as a meeting place for industry

The large number of companies that attended the trade fair, especially Bremen businesses such as ENGINIUS, showed their enthusiasm for hydrogen technology through their many, often technical, questions. This manufacturer of hydrogen-driven commercial vehicles displayed the chassis used in one of them in the trade fair hall. Having already been granted EU type approval, it is ready for use as a dustbin lorry or for transporting heavy goods, and was therefore a real eye-catcher for visitors.

"We're delighted to take part in Hydrogen Technology Expo Europe and showcase our H2 HGV, developed by ENGINIUS. As a Bremen-based company, we're proud to be able to welcome stakeholders in the hydrogen economy to our city. Networking, sharing knowledge, exploring and discovering: true to Bremen's motto "buten un binnen, wagen un winnen" (outside and in, risk it and win"), according to Claudia Schaue, Head of Marketing & Communication at the parent company, FAUN Umwelttechnik GmbH & Co. KG. ENGINIUS is already manufacturing 100 vehicles a year.

Charlie Brandon didn't just notice this enthusiasm for the trade fair while it was running: "Here's a brief anecdote: I have happy memories of the evening before the trade fair, when I attended a reception organised by the City of Bremen in its historic town hall. This was a fantastic networking opportunity and helped us get the trade fair off to a great start with a wonderful, top-quality event. It was simply amazing to see so many familiar faces, and also so many new people, in Bremen."

Preview for 2023 – Hydrogen Technology Expo continues to grow

Brandon is convinced that there will be an even greater level of enthusiasm this year. In 2023, the trade fair's director expects a significant expansion to up to 450 exhibiting companies and more than 8,000 international visitors, who will enjoy free access to the exhibition halls. We've even rented two more halls in the trade fair complex so we can meet this demand.

Once again, scientific institutes will sit alongside commercial businesses. After all, it's the research projects run by industrial enterprises and scientific bodies that are the decisive factor for driving forward the use of hydrogen.

This fact can readily be confirmed by IFAM, the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials. This Bremen-based institute had its own stand at the 2022 trade fair, providing information about its latest projects:

"Hydrogen Technology Expo is the ideal place for sharing information with experts who are involved in the hydrogen economy. As a research and development partner in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, IFAM has already been active in the hydrogen economy for many years. This is why being able to welcome the national and international hydrogen community here, in person, and showcase Bremen's expertise in all aspects of hydrogen, is something really special for us", explained Dr. Florian Sayer, Head of the Energy Business Unit at IFAM.

Bremen: ideal location for the hydrogen industry

There were good reasons for the 2021 trade fair finding its new home in Bremen. Many of the disciplines that are relevant for a hydrogen-powered future are already well-established in this city: expertise in materials science, the aviation and aerospace sector and the maritime and automotive industries. Bremen is also home to many pioneers in the renewable energy business. All of this is complemented by the best-possible infrastructure of convertible gas networks and caverns, which covers the North, and Bremen in particular, and will ensure a seamless and reliable supply of hydrogen.

As Charlie Brandon, the event organiser said: "The strengths of Bremen, Bremerhaven and Northern Germany as a whole are of decisive importance for the success of our specialist trade fair. Bremen has set itself ambitious targets for hydrogen. We're using its proximity to the North Sea to attract the surrounding countries to our trade fair. Northern Europe has become a global byword for hydrogen because of its multitude of major carbon-capture and hydrogen production projects. We're building on this by holding the world's largest hydrogen event here."

Science and industry are also working together on impressive large-scale projects in Bremen. At present, more than 1 billion Euros are being invested in the hydrogen sector.

These numerous activities are embedded in the hydrogen strategy of Northern Germany and Bremen (German). These strategies are setting the course for the future. By 2030, five gigawatts of electrolysis capacity will have been created in Northern Germany, new testing and research centres will have been set up and the use of hydrogen in sectors such as the steel production industry and the maritime economy will have been investigated. These are also parts of Bremen's climate action plan which envisages transition to a climate-neutral economy and society in the Federal State as a whole by 2038.

"The trade fair is a component of our strategy. This is because it brings together the people who have the ability to implement this transformation. They also have the chance to get to know Bremen, which is a real benefit to the city and to local companies alike", said Elitsa Pesina, Policy Officer, Hydrogen in Bremen. This will not change in the future when the trade fair moves to its sister city Hamburg from 2024 - after having grown up in Bremen. With a large joint stand, Bremen will then continue to work on strengthening North German cooperation and marketing the entire region as a sustainable and innovative business location.

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