In September 2015, Tejs Laustsen Jensen took up the position as Managing Director of The Danish Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells. We have met with Tejs and asked him a few questions about his new job and the future of hydrogen.
What do you bring to the job as Managing Director of the partnership?
For many years, I have worked with stakeholder management and I was responsible for public affairs for the Danish Car Importers Association, amongst others. On top of that, I have a keen interest in the environment and energy, and how we can propel growth within green renewable energy. Denmark has already positioned itself as a frontrunner, but now it is time to take us a step further. We need to figure out how we can store and transfer the energy from renewable energy sources into the transportation sector. This holds huge potential. And to me it is very appealing to be in charge of an organization that puts this on top of the agenda.
In some groups, there is skepticism towards hydrogen’s role in the green transition of the energy system?
If we do not include hydrogen in the future energy system, we will not be able to reach the goals that are put forward in the Danish Parliament’s energy agreement from 2012. There is still great potential in increasing electrification, however we cannot store electricity. We need to make renewable energy a part of the transportation sector. But there are some limitations to electric cars, and there are no signs indicating that aircrafts within short time can be powered by electricity. We need to create synthetic fuels for transportation – and this is why hydrogen is interesting. Through the process of electrolysis, we can produce hydrogen from electricity created by wind turbines. And by adding CO2 from biogas we can create methane and methanol that can be used in the transportation sector. Hydrogen is “the missing link” in order to fully exploit wind energy.
But investments in hydrogen and fuel cell technology are modest?
Hydrogen and fuel cell technology is less mature than wind energy and district heating. The latter two sectors are both well established and have commercialized products. Nevertheless, we expect that hydrogen technology will grow considerably within coming years. Investors are looking for industries in which they can invest, and many find the clean tech industry very attractive. But it presupposes that the right conditions are present. Exemption of the PSO-tax on electrolysis and subvention for upgrading into methanation belongs to these conditions. But I believe that there is an increasing political understanding of the hydrogen scenario.
You have praised the Danish government’s settlement on fuel cell electric vehicles, even though it entails an implementation of taxes on fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) as well as battery electric vehicles (BEV)?
The settlement means that hydrogen cars are exempted from taxes another three years, after which we will see a gradual phase-in of taxes. The tax exemption for FCEVs has always been temporary, but many people seem to have forgotten about that. Considering the current political agenda and the need for provenue, I find the settlement very satisfactory. It has generated clarification and room for investments, and my experience is that both producers and investors show great interest in Denmark. Denmark is the first country in the world to have a nationwide network of hydrogen refilling stations. I believe that in a couple of years we will be able to present a product that is competitive also without the tax exemption when it comes to hydrogen within transportation.
Most people are familiar with wind turbines and their role in Denmark’s green transition; But many people are not familiar with the potential of hydrogen?
There is probably still some obliviousness and perhaps even some prejudices about hydrogen. In these past few months I have been with The Partnership, I have talked more about zeppelins than ever before. Many of the associations connected to hydrogen, are outdated and does not reflect today’s realities. We see new technologies emerging, and it is a pleasure to work with all the knowing and dedicated people, who are working with research at our universities.
Right now we need to focus on informing the decision makers about the opportunities which are in front of us. And it comes down to delivering a commercialized product. We have a “window of opportunity” – and we need to think big. I will work on ensuring that the right framework conditions will be there, and subsequently we need to seize the opportunities. Hydrogen and fuel cells form part in more products then you can imagine, and companies like H2Logic and SerEnergy as well as organizations such as CEMTEC/Hydrogen Valley have shown that the hydrogen technology holds enormous promise when it comes to growth, export and jobs.
Tejs Laustsen Jensen
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