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Shell, ITM Power to install 10MW electrolyzer for refinery hydrogen

Shell, together with ITM Power, plans to install a 10MW electrolyzer to produce hydrogen at the Wesseling refinery site within the Rheinland Refinery Complex. This would be the largest unit of its kind in Germany and the world’s largest PEM (Polymer Electrolyte Membrane) electrolyzer.

Today, the refinery uses approximately 180,000 tons of hydrogen per year in its various plants. The hydrogen is currently produced as a byproduct of the refining process or through natural gas reforming; electrolysis instead uses electricity to split water into the base components of hydrogen and oxygen. Electrolysis using low-cost renewable electricity could be a key technology for CO2-free hydrogen production in the Shell Rheinland Refinery.

Shell, through Shell Deutschland Oil GmbH, and Shell Energy Europe Ltd, with consortium partners ITM Power PLC, SINTEF, thinkstep and Element Energy, have been invited to the preparation of a grant agreement by the European Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking (FCH 2 JU), following a competitive call for proposals.

The project aims to enable the construction and operation of a large-scale 10 MW electrolyzer that can produce high-quality and CO2-free hydrogen while demonstrating technology and cost improvements through upscaling and new business applications.

The hydrogen produced could be integrated into the refinery processes. The location will also allow the refinery to later expand its facilities to supply hydrogen to potential new customers outside the refinery.

The envisaged hydrogen electrolysis would be a step into the future—opening the door to many new development options for the refinery. This project would allow us to test new technologies in the refinery context.

—Dr. Thomas Zengerly, General Manager for Shell Rheinland Refinery

Hydrogen is a promising technology, even beyond direct use as a cleaner fuel for transport. In the future, it is also expected to play a key role in integrating energy storage and power grid balancing, thus enabling a reliable and growing share of renewables in the energy system.

—Brian Davis, Vice President of Integrated Energy Solutions at Shell

Shell is also taking part in various initiatives to encourage the adoption of hydrogen as a transport fuel. In Germany, Shell is working with the government and industry partners in a cross-sector joint venture, H2 Mobility Germany, to support the development of a nationwide expansion of hydrogen refueling stations. Outside Germany, Shell already has hydrogen stations in the UK and California.

The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking is a public-private partnership supporting research, technological development and demonstration activities in fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. Its aim is to accelerate the market introduction of these technologies. The three members of the FCH 2 JU are the European Commission, fuel cell and hydrogen industries represented by the Industry Grouping Hydrogen Europe and the research community represented by the Research Grouping N.ERGHY.



That's electrolysis at a serious scale, and hopefully will start pushing costs down.


I wonder how much the utilization rate of the electolyzer affects the cost. The assumption seems to be that hydrogen can be produced from surplus renewables, however, there may only be surplus a small percentage of the time. Even dedicated solar panels couldn't be expected to run the electolyzer more than 25% of the time. Is that good enough?


CO2-free ...
Only IF the electricity is.
180,000 tons of hydrogen ...
That is a LOT of H2, big project.



The 180,000 tons of hydrogen is the total for Rotterdam refinery, not what this 10MW FC is to make.

For a 10MW installation, and assuming maybe 50kW per kg, then I make it something like 4,000 tons a year of hydrogen, allowing some down time.

That does not allow for only running it part of the time to make sure that only renewables are used though.


I was not stating that 180,000 tons of H2 was to be made with renewable energy electrolysis, rather making that much is a huge effort.


Surplus/excess REs from combined Hydro, Wind, Solar and Nuke sources could feed large electrolizer plants close to 100% of the time.

Most of clean H2 produced at the main production stations could feed sub H2 area distribution stations via pipelines and/or H2 trucks.

H2 sub distribution stations could store H2 at lower intermidiate pressure and compress it to high pressure on an as required basis ONLY.

The initial cost of H2 distribution (ONLY) sub stations would be much lower than the initial cost of main H2 production stations. Distributed H2 price should fall to $3.50/Kg or less within 5 to 10 years.


Wise move by Shell and BP to progressively move from fossil fuel the Hydrogem?


No.  Greenwashing.


A few percent is not much, they can make H2 when there is surplus renewable energy.


And that's why it's greenwashing; it's intended to Make a Statement, not an actual difference.


It would be normal for current large Oil & Gas & Electricity production-distribution firms (with enough assets, staff and know how) to progressively move into worldwide H2 production-distribution and contribute to near future H2 generation.

To simultaneously produce and use REs to produce H2 would have a double effect on worldwide pollution and GHG reduction.

Many people from Texas, Louisiana, California and China would support that move?


You want to use excess wind, if the utilities refuse to cut back fossil generation then you make contracts to use the wind power for projects like this.


That assumes you can afford to finance a heap of electrolyzers which are idle a lot of the time.


Recent intermittent Solar and Wind REs can allready produce low cost electricity and compete with CPPs, NPPs and NGPPs.

Near future high efficiency electrolysers using excess/surplus electricity from multiple soures including from Sunlight and REs will be competitive with other H2 sources.

Lets not forget that excess clean electricity is available in many places during off-peak hours, i.e. up to 75% of the time. It would become a smart way to use excess water from near future climate change in northern areas.


REs (Solar + Wind) areas with plenty of (variable production) Hydro power with large water reservoirs can easily supply clean energy 100% of the time.

That (matching supply and demands) can be done by using REs (Solar and Wind sources) as main supply and variable Hydro as back-up for peaks and part of main supply.

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