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Euro.cz: Jablonec company DEVINN is looking for hydrogen solutions that make sense. Its successes abroad prove that the Czech Republic is not just an assembly plant

DEVINN is a Czech company from Jablonec nad Nisou, which deals with the development of hydrogen technologies. It relies on hydrogen for several reasons - mainly because the green one can be produced almost without emissions anywhere in the world and over and over again and has potential in various ecological facilities...

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In the past, hydrogen has not had a very good reputation due to a series of unfortunate events. Just think of the legendary Hindenburg airship or some experiments with hydrogen bombs. And although there have been some , related to its high flammability, it is still considered by many to be the fuel of the future.

The Jablonec company Devinn also sees its future in it. With its technologies, the company not only shows that hydrogen is actually quite safe - if handled as it should be - but also presents a wide range of possibilities for its use. It is perfect for freight and public transport, as well as for charging electric vehicles in off-grid locations or for the emission-free power supply of concert staging areas, or even in the event of a power failure for entire buildings.

However, according to Luboš Hajský, the company's co-owner, gas alone is not enough for all of the above. The key to success is the combination with batteries and other natural energy sources. "The big advantage of hydrogen is its renewability and ecological production. With so-called green hydrogen, it runs essentially emission-free. It only generates heat and distilled water, which can of course be further used. However, we are not looking for a 100% replacement of other energy sources; rather, we are looking for applications for hydrogen where it makes the most sense, while elsewhere it can only be an alternative or supplement," Hajský explained to Euro.cz.

On this topic, he adds that with standard batteries, such as those found in today's electric vehicles, it is de facto impossible to store energy in them for long periods without significant energy losses. This is in contrast to hydrogen, or systems in which the energy carrier is this gas. In other words, hydrogen does not compete with batteries, but rather becomes their effective ally.

Even the rockers rely on him

That hydrogen has its drawbacks is quite obvious. These include mainly the bulkiness of the storage containers and, so far, the relatively high price of the whole technology. However, it should become significantly cheaper if it is used more widely, and this is what the Jablonec company is trying to achieve.

The company was founded in 2014, during which time it has developed, among other things, the H2BASE hydrogen generator and the H2BOT semi-autonomous hydrogen charger. Now, it is also celebrating its first successes abroad, where it has scheduled the finalisation of two projects for this year. Both of them are related to the energy independence of buildings and the use of hydrogen as a backup source. The main role in these projects is played by the aforementioned generator, which will be combined with an electrolyser and a photovoltaic power plant.

Czechs can then meet Devinn products, for example, at the Rock for People festival in Hradec Králové, where last year the company used its generator to power one of the concert stages and where this year it plans to present other innovations. And the company's headquarters itself is also interesting - the company is creating a solution that will make the entire building energy self-sufficient through hydrogen.

By 2027, driving a hydrogen car will cost the same as diesel

In recent years, Devinn has also teamed up with Czech truck manufacturer Tatra to collaborate on a mining vehicle. This is a model that runs on hydrogen and fuel cells only. It is unrivalled in this country and will be unique in the world. In its development, Hajski's company is betting on the fact that the era of emission allowances is approaching in freight transport, which will only play into the hands of hydrogen.

In contrast, the passenger car sector does not see enough room for hydrogen technology. Although Toyota and Hyundai are selling cars with this drive, the chances of them becoming mainstream are slim, according to Devinn's boss, so he and his colleagues do not plan to follow in their footsteps. Instead of cars, he is focusing on hydrogen filling stations. And not just any refuelling stations.

Unlike 'traditional' charging stands, the Jablonec company's station moves, so it can also serve electric cars in parking lots or in traffic jams. "The hydrogen charger has a purchase price that is several times higher than a traditional charging stand, but this is compensated by the possibility of 100 percent use - according to current surveys, traditional stands are only about 10 percent occupied. In addition, there is no risk of someone forgetting the car on the charger," says Hajský, adding that the 'mobile' station is to become part of commercial projects this year and that if there is interest, he expects its mass production.

The higher price is linked to hydrogen per se, which is one of the main reasons people are sceptical about it, according to Devinn's boss. "But we are proving that real commercial projects can be done with this technology now. The other option is, of course, subsidies, which are still in the pipeline. So far, electromobility or photovoltaics have more room, but our services are also related to that and the situation will probably turn around in time," Hajský believes.

It doesn't stop with hydrogen buses

In the last six years alone, the price of hydrogen has fallen by a third, a trend he believes will accelerate in the future. A similar view is shared by the Czech government, which said in last year's Hydrogen Strategy of the Czech Republic that it estimates that by 2027 a hydrogen car could cost the same as a diesel car.

Lower operating costs could theoretically encourage a not yet high demand for wider use of hydrogen buses in the Czech Republic. They are still a rarity in this country, but they are already quite common in many European cities. One of the biggest pioneers in this direction is Vienna.

Austria's largest conurbation is set to become the imaginary centre of the country's hydrogen economy, mainly thanks to its own production, which will come from renewable sources. This is to be provided by a newly built electrolysis plant with a capacity of three megawatts. The plant costs over 10 million euros and is scheduled for completion this summer. It is expected to produce 300 kilograms of green hydrogen per day, which will be used as fuel for public transport vehicles and trucks.

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