The National Innovation Programme Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP) in an interdepartmental programme for research and development funding that has been in place since 2007. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) made a significant contribution of 500 million euro between 2007 and 2016. Thus far, the aim of the NIP has been to prepare the market for these types of technologies in accordance with existing research, development and innovation (R&D&I) directives. The long-term, ten-year programme therefore contributed to the emergence of an internationally competitive industrial sector based on stable framework conditions and funding opportunities in Germany. Now that the launch of fuel cell products is in the early stages and a hydrogen infrastructure for transport is being developed, the NIP needs to be realigned in its second phase. The objective is to make hydrogen and fuel cell technology competitive in the transport sector and the energy market by the middle of the next decade. This can only be achieved with a continued joint effort of all stakeholders.
The associated key points were outlined in the joint “Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology 2016-2026 – from Market Preparation to Competitive Products” Federal Programme of the Federal Ministries of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), of Economy and Energy (BMWi), of Education and Research (BMBF) and for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
The BMVI commissioned Project Management Jülich (PtJ) to administer the respective funding measures in cooperation with the National Organisation for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Research (NOW GmbH) Programme Management Association.
As the first building block of the funding measures planned by the BMVI, the Funding Directive for Research, Development and Innovation Measures was published on 29th September 2016 as part of Phase II (Focus on Sustainable Mobility) of the National Innovation Programme Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP). This provides for a two-phase procedure in which a sketch is first submitted via the online portal easy-Online. PtJ initiates the review process through the NOW Programme Management Association. The applicant is informed of the results and, if the decision is positive, a pre-submission invitation is issued via easy-Online.
The second step was the publication of the Funding Guidelines for Market Activation Measures on 1st March, 2017. The objective of the funding is market activation (as a precursor to market ramp-up) for products that have reached technical market maturity, but are not yet competitive in the market. The lack of competitiveness is due to the fact that production costs are still high and, for many products, the infrastructure for fuel supply and maintenance is still lacking. The focus of the funding, which is provided as an investment subsidy, is therefore not on individual private customers, but on commercial applications with the corresponding quantities. Individual fixed-term calls which specify the respective funding priorities and the framework conditions of the funding are activated for the submission of applications. The procedure is single-tiered; the application is made via the online portal easy-Online.