SFC Energy launches hydrogen and methanol fuel cell production in India
German fuel cell supplier SFC Energy (SFC) has started making hydrogen and methanol fuel cells at its New Delhi/Gurgaon facility in India.
SFC Energy and its long-time Indian partner, FCTecNrgy, set up the production facility six months before the start-up (FCT).
The new manufacturing and sales site, covering 35,000 square feet, will hire around 100 employees initially and is expected to have an investment of €10 million over the coming years.
According to the “Make in India” strategy, indigenous production is anticipated to significantly aid India’s efforts to decarbonize its industrial sector.
India has established goals for the growth of renewable energy sources in the nation and hopes to prioritize increasing green hydrogen generation by 2030.
“The climate-friendly transformation of the economy is an urgent challenge and a significant common concern for Germany and India,” said Dr. Robert Habeck, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection.
“By producing locally, SFC Energy makes German Technology more accessible to India and its economy, thus making an important contribution to the success of the energy transition.”
The Indian government has set goals to replace polluting energy systems like diesel generators with sustainable energy options as part of its effort to reach Net Zero.
It endorsed the “National Green Hydrogen Mission” announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 4th, which calls for the replacement of generators in vital infrastructure, the military, and the railroads with emission-free fuel cells.
Since it began operating in India in 2016, SFC has worked to expand both its production capabilities and the local market there.
Public sector clients and private consumers of clean hydrogen and methanol-based electricity are among its customers in the nation where grid supply is either unavailable or not steady enough.
The company has most recently booked orders worth €33m for fuel cell-based energy supply for the Indian armed forces.
“As a technology leader with the experience of more than 65,000 fuel cells installed worldwide, SFC Energy is a perfect partner to support the Indian government in its ambitious goals towards a sustainable and climate-friendly energy supply,” said Dr. Peter Podesser, CEO of SFC.
“With the start of manufacturing at the new site in Delhi, we fulfill the ‘Make in India’ requirements as well as the ‘National Green Hydrogen Mission’ and benefit from our long-standing presence and partnership in this growth market.”
Following a meeting between German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Modi in February 2023, during which SFC and FCT inked a contract, SFC started building fuel cells in India.
SFC Energy India, a subsidiary of the corporation, will reportedly take the lead on fuel cell production and quality assurance in the next years, while FCT will be in charge of designing, developing, installing, and integrating specialized fuel cell systems.
Driving methanol development
India is the third-largest consumer of electricity, and by 2040, its need for primary energy is expected to double. The nation is boosting its use of renewable sources to meet the rising electricity demand.
Over the next five years, a 70% increase in new capacity is anticipated to come from renewable energy. The industrial and transportation sectors have a roadmap to becoming net carbon neutral thanks to the introduction of methanol as a fuel or hydrogen carrier.
Methanol can lower the cost of transporting and storing hydrogen, facilitating a quicker adoption of the fuel as an energy source.
Reforming methanol to hydrogen also uses less energy than electrolyzing water to produce hydrogen.
The Indian government’s think tank, NITI Aayog, has taken the lead in developing the policy agenda, and regulatory standards, and implementing initiatives to support its ambitious ambition to grow the domestic methanol industry since it was announced in 2016.
The Department of Science and Technology revealed in February of this year that approximately eight methanol-related projects are planned, two of which include the production of ultra-pure hydrogen from methanol for fuel cells as well as the demonstration of an electrochemical methanol reformer (ECMR) based on Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM).