voestalpine, Siemens & VERBUND building one of the world’s largest electrolysis plants for H2 production; EU-funded H2FUTURE
The European Commission has awarded the H2FUTURE project consortium—comprising voestalpine, Siemens, VERBUND and Austrian Power Grid (APG) as well as the research-partners K1-MET and ECN—the contract for the construction of one of the world’s largest PEM electrolysis plants for producing green hydrogen.
The project partners will work and research cooperatively on implementing an innovative hydrogen demonstration plant at the voestalpine site in Linz. The green hydrogen generated there will be fed directly into the internal gas network, allowing the testing of the use of hydrogen in various process stages of steel production.
The technology supplier for the proton exchange membrane electrolyser is Siemens. Siemens has developed an electrolysis system based on PEM (proton exchange membrane) technology, which enables large quantities of energy to be captured and stored through the conversion of electrical current into hydrogen. The electrolysis system is already successfully in use in several projects and is subject to on-going development by Siemens. With a capacity of 6 megawatts, the latest generation of the technology will now be applied in a closed cell unit in Linz.
The hydrogen produced has a multitude of applications, for example as a raw material in the industry—as is seen in Linz, but also as a fuel for mobility and as an energy carrier in electricity and gas supply. This CO2-heavy hydrogen can be replaced by hydrogen from electrolysis, greatly improving the emission balance resulting from industrial processes. Moreover, if the electrolysis is undertaken with electricity from renewable sources, the hydrogen production is virtually climate-neutral.—Wolfgang Hesoun, CEO of Siemens Austria
VERBUND, the project coordinator, will provide electricity from renewable energy sources and is responsible for development of grid-relevant services. Already today, VERBUND generates around 96% of its electricity from renewable energy sources, primarily hydropower.
We welcome this forward-looking project, which links the challenges of the production industry and the efficient use of clean energy in an ideal way. Our common goal is the reduction of CO2 emissions and strengthening Austria as a business location through the use of state of the art green technology. Green hydrogen in particular offers great potential for industrial use and also as a storage medium, to balance out the volatile electricity generation from new renewable energy sources and to ideally integrate them into the energy system.—Wolfgang Anzengruber, VERBUND Chairman of the Board
Further partners in the project are the research institution ECN from the Netherlands, which is responsible for the scientific analysis of the demonstration operation and the transferability to other industrial sectors, and the Austrian transmission system operator APG, which will provide support in integrating the plant into the power reserve markets.
The Austrian COMET Competence Center K1-MET provides its expertise in the operation of the plant and demonstrates the potential applications in the European and global steel sector.
Both industry at large and energy providers are currently confronted with serious energy policy challenges in Europe: The EU’s climate and energy goals stipulate a 40% reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030, which poses almost unsolvable problems for energy-intensive industries. The European electricity sector is experiencing a radical change, with overcapacities of volatile new renewable solar and wind energy.
Green Hydrogen produced based on CO2-free green electricity presents enormous potential for use as an industrial process gas, as well as for energy storage. The H2FUTURE project is an important milestone on the path towards coupling the energy and industry sectors.
The FCH JU is thrilled to see the launch of such ground-breaking project. H2FUTURE gathers a constructive partnership which is decisive in the process of greening the industry while harnessing the power of renewables. This is key to position industry and the sector on the right way to help meeting the Cop 21 agreement targets. After having supported 25 projects in the field of electrolyser, the FCH JU is proud to see the birth of the most ambitious project in this field, aiming to build one of the largest PEM electrolyser.—Bart Biebuyck, Executive Director European Commission, Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU)
The FCH JU has allocated about €12 million (US$12.8 million) in funding from the EU Horizon 2020 program for implementing this project with the goal of producing green hydrogen. The green hydrogen for industrial use and for balancing the power reserve market will be produced in one of the largest and most modern electrolysers with proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology. The total project volume amounts to about €18 million (US$19.2 million) over the course of 4.5 years.
With H2FUTURE, key questions about sector coupling will be handled, such as evaluating potentials and possibilities for using green hydrogen in various process stages of steel production. In addition, the transferability of this technology to other industrial sectors which use hydrogen in their production processes will be investigated. A further focus is integrating the responsive PEM electrolysis plant into the power reserve markets by developing demand-side management solutions, thus compensating for short-term fluctuations in the increasingly volatile power supply by means of load management for bulk consumers.
The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) is a unique public private partnership supporting research, technological development and demonstration (RTD) activities in fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. Its aim is to accelerate the market introduction of these technologies, realising their potential as an instrument in achieving a carbon-lean energy system.
Fuel cells, as an efficient conversion technology, and hydrogen, as a clean energy carrier, have a great potential to help fight carbon dioxide emissions, to reduce dependence on hydrocarbons and to contribute to economic growth. The objective of the FCH JU is to bring these benefits to Europeans through a concentrated effort from all sectors.
The three members of the FCH JU are the European Commission, fuel cell and hydrogen industries represented by Hydrogen Europe and the research community represented by the Research Grouping N.ERGHY.