Bosch recently announced its intention to invest one billion euros in fuel cell technology by 2024 and, last month, the company entered into cooperation on fuel cells with China’s Qingling Motors “to develop, assemble and market fuel cell systems for the Chinese market”. 

Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner said the advantages of the fuel cell are particularly obvious in heavy-duty vehicles, such as trucks, adding that the company plans to bring down the technology's high investment costs with serial production. “The heavier the vehicles, the more we will rely on regenerative fuels,” Denner commented.

It was also reported in The Financial Times that Denner hit out at the EU for being “fixated” on electric vehicles. “Climate action is not about the end of the internal combustion engine,” he was quoted saying. “It’s about the end of fossil fuels.”

“Trucks are similar to yachts in that they need high power for long durations and [fuel cell] is definitely the way to go...”

In’s most recent Digital Dialogue, Justin Olesinski, managing director of Olesinski, discussed the Bosch announcement as meaningful for the superyacht industry; “Trucks are similar to yachts in that they need high power for long durations and [fuel cell] is definitely the way to go. But it’s whether we can grab that pool of technical knowhow and take it from the trucking industry, which is massive compared to our very niche market.”

With ambitious targets for cutting carbon emissions in the UK by 2035 and in the EU by 2050, the superyacht industry only has a limited amount time to start producing yachts powered by suitable energy sources, especially when considering the lengthy design and build lead times. How this happens, Olesinski points out, will depend on the industry’s ability to adopt technologies that are being used elsewhere.

“I really hope that we can work with these bigger companies in other industries to get ourselves up to speed,” he says. “Otherwise, we're going to end up like steam engines that people just won't want… The idea of pouring fuel into a yacht is just going to be insane…  And the regulations would tell us anyway, so the quicker we get involved in this, the better.”

Another key, says Olesinski, will be better collaboration within the industry. “You see presentations from different yards about how they're using hybrid, hydrogen, or even discussing nuclear, and everyone's doing it individually,” he concludes. “I think it’s of real importance that we all pull together… because it's so complex and the investment we need is so massive, that we can't do it individually.”

Image: A test fleet of Qingling trucks with Bosch fuel cell systems is to hit the road in China in 2021.

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