Arno's EnergyIdeas (23)
About trade fairs and conferences, cars and the financial crisis....
Every year in autum, it feels like the number of conferences and trade fairs for promoting hydrogen and fuel cells" is increasing rapidly. Almost weekly there are themed events, such as the ones in Stuttgart, Copenhagen, Hamburg or Phoenix, Arizona, USA. But there are other memorable events too, such as the 16th Millionaire Fair "Millionaire Fair ®" which took place October 16 -- 19 in the "million-strong city" Munich, Germany.
Toys for millionaires, seen in Abu Dhabi, UAE. With losses of billions of struggling U.S. carmaker General Motors (GM) has its Hummer SUV brand now for sale
Photo: Arno A. Evers, Arno A. Evers FAIR-PR
Welcomed were not only millionaires and those who want one of those. Even ordinary people were allowed to attened for the moderate admission fee of Euro 39.00 (including VAT) to have a look at the everyday luxury of todays high society. You could not only see golden coated cigarillos for Euro 500 per unit but also "... wickedly expensive "silked blankets staffed with 550 diamonds" or other "precious..." values to touch. Also a personal butler was available, good for Euro 250,000 per year. Overall, at the Munich Trade Fair the exhibits had a value of around one billion Euro... But as we all know by now: "After the gathering comes the scattering."
If we multiply the value of the exhibits with 480 we get to Euro 480,000,000,000 (for comparison: US Dollar 644,000,000,000) a figure which was "pushed through" the German legislative (Bundestag and Bundesrat) in an express pace of five working days. The signing by German President Horst Köhler validated the eight-pages-law to implement a package of measures to stabilize the financial market "Financial Stabilization Act FMStG". After publication in the Federal Gazette, the law came in force on Saturday, October 10. The ailing financial sector may be starting on Monday, October 20, to make use of a state aid of up to 480 billion Euro. All the best to them, the bankers. 480 billion Euro divided by approx. 82 million German citizens result in a per capita burden of about 5,850 Euro (for comparison 7,850 US Dollars). At this point, you ask yourself: "Where do such figures come from?", "Is this reasonable, too much or too little?" and: "How much does it cost me personally?" (For comparision, the US political aide to backup american banks amounts to 700,000,000,000 US Dollar. With 300 Mio inhibitants, each US citizen is bearing a burden of 2,350 US Dollar.)
You can also see the "crisis" from other ponts of view: factual and imaginary. The facts are simple: Starting from the United States a (mortgage)-bubble emerged, as it, since the beginning of the monetary economy, always happens once in a while. Banks are loosing money, value corrections must be accepted or they go broke. That in itself is normal and appears in the so called "free market" ever and ever again. The question is: Who has invented such derivatives and put them on the market, who is responsible, for the damages?
Just imaginary, however, are the exaggerations, which make this phenomenon to a potential "World Crisis". The people are all too readily prepared to be afraid of the big collapse. The mass media heats it up as well - every talkshow becomes a "doomsday conference." The same journalists who supported the new funding-(betting) models yesterday, are fully against them today. Politicians were, as banking or supervisory board members, not uninvolved.
Might the crisis also have some benefits? It comes coincidentally (?) at a time when many markets have begun their cyclical downturn already. The car market, for example, not only in the U.S., is overheated, model changes are long overdue. We are looking for advanced "automobiles", with good drives, intelligent heat management and clever, weight-saving design. These developments, the auto industry, however, was missing so far, for them it is relatively easy now to blame the financial crisis.
Whether German automotive companies will continue to be in leading global competitive positions, I have my doubts. The know-how in the development of hydrogen and fuel cell drives into which the German manufacturer had already a lot invested, should now be the base on the design and manufacture of electric vehicles. However, all major car manufacturers currently are developing in the direction of electric vehicles with batteries to recharge and possibly even with internal combustion engines in the powertrain.
The trend should now turn from the "pleasure of driving" to "the joy of saving".
Nobody asks, however, for the source of the primary energy or for a replacement of fossil fuels. Where will the electricity in future coming from to power transportation? In Germany in 2007, transportation was using 88.7 million tons of coal equivalent (for comparison, conversion losses: 128.7 million tons of coal equivalent, consumption in households: 75.1 million tons of coal equivalent ). At the moment, for the automobile manufacturers the electricity simply comes "from the wall outlet or is "won", when braking. Well, how wonderful. Unfortunately, this is rather short sighted when having a closer look at the energy balance in the existing energy industry today. But in order to change this, one needs not only courage and economic creativity, but also good people and entirely new ways to produce hydrogen.
Should driving in the future be affordable for millionaires only or are not millionaires rather THE relevant key customers for hydrogen and fuel cells?
Photo caption: Toys for millionaires, seen in Abu Dhabi, UAE. With losses of billions of struggling U.S. carmaker General Motors (GM) has its Hummer SUV brand now for sale
Photo: Arno A. Evers, Arno A. Evers FAIR-PR
Links to news:
Act to implement a package of measures to stabilize the financial market (Financial Stabilization Act FMStG <http://www.bgblportal.de/BGBL/bgbl1f/bgbl108s1982.pdf>
Editor's note: At the 2008 Fuel Cell Seminar & Exposition in Phoenix, AZ, USA from 27-31 October 2008, Arno A. Evers will present his vision:
"Virtual power plants with direct solar hydrogen and Fuel Cells"