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Cases Publications

Aiming Toward a Hydrogen Economy: Icelandic New Energy Ltd.

Case Abstract


In June 2004, Icelandic New Energy (INE) Limited, a research and development consortium based in Reykjavik, Iceland, is considering what future direction to take.  The two-person team made up of Jon Björn Skúlason and María Hildur Maack have met their first major goal — the installation of the world’s first commercial hydrogen filling station and the coordination of a public transport test project involving the operation of three hydrogen fuelled city buses.  The company was founded with the overall objective of, “investigating the potential for eventually replacing the use of fossil fuels in Iceland with hydrogen-based fuels and create the first hydrogen society in the world.”


Working towards the goal of self-sufficiency from fossil fuels, Icelandic New Energy Ltd. was set up in 1999 by the Icelandic consortium Vistorka and three major partners each contributing a part to the testing — Royal Dutch Shell (the refuelling stations), Norsk Hydro (the electrolysis technology to make the hydrogen) and DaimlerChrysler (fuel cell vehicles using hydrogen as fuel). The shareholder agreement was set to expire in 2005.  With all of the major activities being outsourced and contracted, Jon Björn, general manager, and María, environmental manager, wondered how they could keep the company as a going-concern in order to move Iceland to a hydrogen powered economy — a feat that could take more than 15 years. INE’s contributions were to the environment and society, and a sustainable business model was not immediately evident.


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