Hitachi Energy doubles down on advanced EV charging stations and other electrification initiatives.

Buh-Bye Fossil Fuels: Hitachi Energy Pledges $4.5 Billion To Juice The Electrification Movement

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Fossil energy stakeholders are facing a fresh wall of doom as well-heeled legacy engineering firms jump into the electrification field, wielding vast reserves of investment dollars, experience, and industry connections. The latest to join the club is Hitachi Energy, with a newly announced 3-year, $4.5 billion pledge to accelerate transmission infrastructure and other essential elements of the net zero economy of the future.

Electrification Is Happening, Like It Or Not

The new $4.5 billion electrification commitment from Hitachi Energy comes on top of another $1.5 billion announced by the firm just this past April, with a focus on producing more transformers, more quickly.

“These investments will enable the company to meet customers’ commitments and market demand, increasing its global R&D, engineering and manufacturing capacity of transformers, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) and high-voltage products,” Hitachi Energy explains, noting that the dollars support its Hitachi Energy 2030 Plan.

Hitachi Energy emphasizes that AI and other emerging digital tools will drive electricity demand through the roof. We can also add cryptocurrency mining to the list, for better or worse.

“Electricity will be the backbone of the entire energy system and the change is happening faster than many thought possible,” declared Hitachi Energy CEO Claudio Facchin in a press statement dated June 7.

“The world is in a race to transform energy systems,” he added.

That’s not such great news for fossil energy stakeholders. Even worse, Facchin outlined how A-list electrification stakeholders like Hitachi are stepping up the pace.

“Technology is not the bottleneck,” he emphasized. “New business models, harmonization of designs, along with partnerships are key drivers for the increase in the pace of change.”

Hitachi seems determined to pull its weight. According to the company, the new commitment will more than doubles its previous investments in manufacturing, engineering, digital, R&D, and partnerships over the next three years.

“Integrating more renewable energy sources like solar and wind, alongside meeting the electrification demands of transport, buildings, industry, and other sectors, necessitates a secure and flexible grid infrastructure,” Hitachi emphasizes.

Penske & Hitachi Hook Up For Fleet Electrification

The roots of Hitachi Energy’s electrification master plan began to coalesce in 2020, when parent company Hitachi announced a series of transactions that brought Hitachi Energy firmly under its corporate umbrella.

“By making Hitachi Energy a wholly owned subsidiary, Hitachi intends to further accelerate synergies and innovation through the fusion of the two companies as the global power market undergoes an unprecedented period of change in preparation for the energy transition,” Hitachi explained.

Hitachi Energy has not let the grass grow under its feet. On March 19, the company announced a hookup with the leading automotive firm Penske to develop a pilot EV charging facility for the firm’s truck depot in Stockton, California. The facility can charge 10 electric trucks at a time at 100 kilowatts, or five trucks at 200 kilowatts.

That may seem like small potatoes, but other firms in the shipping and logistics space will be keeping a close watch on the project, partly thanks to Penske Truck Leasing’s new position as a charter member of the “Powering America’s Commercial Transportation” coalition. The organization describes itself as an advocate for “accelerating the construction of nationwide infrastructure for medium- and heavy-duty (M/HD*) zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs).”

In a press statement announcing the Stockton pilot project, Hicham Abdessamad, the Chairman and CEO of Hitachi America, Ltd., issued a warning to anyone still convinced that electric truck fleets will never be a thing.

“This project with Penske marks a significant leap forward in our collective commitment to sustainable transportation and demonstrates how we can move electric fleets from niche to mainstream,” he said.

EV Charging & The Green Hydrogen Connection

If you’re wondering where all those kilowatts to charge up those trucks at the Stockton pilot project are coming from, that’s a good question. Unless on-site or dedicated renewable energy resources are available, the electricity will come from whatever grid mix is available.

The vehicle electrification movement is accelerating, grid mix or not, so the big question is how to optimize more renewable energy resources.

Aside from adding more renewables to the grid, various solutions are beginning to emerge. The startup FreeWire, for example, is pitching a battery-equipped EV charging station that can be programmed to recharge when more renewables are available.

Another approach is suggested by the Extreme E electric vehicle racing circuit, which has been testing off-grid EV charging stations for some events. The charging stations deploy fuel cells powered by green hydrogen, produced on-site through water electrolysis.

Hitachi Energy is already on top of the green hydrogen angle. On June 6, the company announced that it has hooked up with a US Department of Energy initiative titled “H2@Scale in Texas and Beyond.” Along with the firms GTI Energy and Frontier Energy, the project is centered at the JJ Pickle Research Center at the University of Texas-Austin.

Hitachi Energy describes its involvement as focusing on “integrating utility-scale renewable energy sources with power grids” as well as “managing and orchestrating a variety of energy sources.”

“The project represents one of the largest collections of renewable hydrogen production, onsite storage, and end-use technologies to be located at one site, laying the foundation for expanding hydrogen’s role in decarbonizing Texas,” explains Hitachi Energy, which is evidently undaunted by the task of decarbonizing an epicenter of global fossil energy production.

Electrification & The Pickle Project

Despite Texas’s role in the fossil energy economy, the Pickle Project, as we call it, is focusing squarely on renewable hydrogen as an electrification and decarbonization tool.

“H2@Scale in Texas and Beyond intends to show that renewable hydrogen can be a cost-effective fuel for multiple end-use applications, including fuel cell electric vehicles, when coupled with large, baseload consumers that use hydrogen for clean, reliable stationary power,” UT-Austin explains.

If you caught that thing about baseload customers, that’s a reference to hard-to-decarbonize industries, such as steel and cement making, that have been resisting battery-enabled electrification. Somewhat ironically, Texas’s sprawling refinery industry would also see a drop in greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil-sourced hydrogen with green hydrogen, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.

CleanTechnica first caught wind of the Texas green hydrogen scheme back in 2021. It seemed rather far-fetched back then, considering the right-wing politics at work among office holders in the state. Nevertheless, money talks. Despite all the red state rhetoric, Texas leaped out in front of the electrification movement in the early 2000’s and it has held the pole position on renewable energy innovation ever since, so go figure.

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Image (cropped): Hitachi Energy is doubling down on advanced EV charging stations and other electrification initiatives (courtesy of Hitachi Energy).

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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

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