Headquartered in New York, with research and manufacturing bases in Pune, India, and Germany, h2e Power Systems Private Limited is an end-to-end solutions company with a presence across the fuel cell value chain.
h2e Power was founded in 2011 by social entrepreneurs Siddharth R. Mayur, Amar Chakradeo, Suresh Sharma and Bhavana S. Mayur, and incubated at the Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, an umbrella organisation at IIT Bombay. Poonawalla Clean Energy, part of the Poonawalla Group, is a partner and investor in h2e Power. The company aims to manufacture and integrate fuel cell systems and solutions based on green hydrogen produced from waste and electrolysis in India. It is also planning to develop integrated, efficient power supply solutions to provide cost-effective, reliable and environment-friendly energy across different industries and geographies. It is perhaps the only company in the world working on developing dedicated fuel cell solutions tailored for agriculture.
h2e Power has a subsidiary, mPowerGmbH, a Germany-based company focusing on manufacturing stacks. The subsidiary is commercialising high temperature solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stacks using ceramic components. Through its subsidiary, h2e Power has acquired Switzerland-based Hexis AG from Germany’s Viessmann Group. The acquisition was carried out in a bid to create a global fuel cell company with operations in India, Germany and Switzerland.
In June 2021, h2e Power announced its plan to develop India’s first fully integrated hydrogen fuel cell three-wheeler in collaboration with Canada-based company, Hydrogen in Motion. The three-wheeler will use polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells and innovative hydrogen cylinders. The collaboration is under the Indo-Canadian programme funded by the Global Innovation and Technology Alliance, which is a public-private partnership between the Technology Development Board, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, and the Confederation of Indian Industry. According to h2e Power’s press statement, it has become India’s first company in the green hydrogen space to have a product in both the stationary and mobility sectors.
In January 2021, the company commenced operations at a pilot production facility with an initial capacity of 2 MW per annum in Pune for SOFCs and solid oxide generators to produce green hydrogen and other e-fuels. The technology partner of the facility is Fraunhofer IKTS. The company is also building a large greenfield manufacturing facility with 100 MW per annum capacity at Manjari, near Pune.
Earlier, h2e Power had signed an MoU with Convion, a Finnish company focusing on the integration and development of multifuel-capable fuel cell systems in the power range of 50 kW and above, to bring dependable clean energy solutions to rural and urban India. Jain Irrigation Systems has agreed to install a biogas-based 50 kW fuel cell system developed jointly by Convion and h2e Power at its R&D facilities in Jalgaon. The company wants to provide fuel cells as part of its modern and sustainable agriculture strategy to small and marginalised farmers, the food processing industry as well as for high-end contract farming in India.
h2e Power’s collaboration with Convion is crucial for energy security in both rural and urban areas. Continuously operated fuel cells are an essential component of smart grids, which are being planned for both urban and rural areas. In urban areas, fuel cells can provide clean, on-site power generation, without transmission losses and grid disturbances. This ensures energy efficiency and security for the customer. Meanwhile, for rural off-grid locations, fuel cells can provide reliable power from locally produced biogas. In India, many villages suffer from the lack of good quality and reliable electricity. Fuel cells enable power generation in remote locations without significant investments in grid infrastructure.
The company has taken an innovative approach to tap the green hydrogen potential in India. While the discussions in the country are focused on increasing the size of hydrogen projects to achieve economies of scale, the company has placed its bets on kilowatt-scale green hydrogen projects for both urban and rural areas, especially for agricultural purposes. Further, by announcing the development of a fuel cell-based three-wheeler, it is going against the generally accepted notion in the industry that the lightweight vehicle segment will be dominated by electric vehicles.
All in all, h2e Power is going against the tide to disrupt the industry, which is crucial for any start-up to make a mark in the long run.
By Sarthak Takyar