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Cummins provides 20MW PEM electrolyzer to Air Liquide for green hydrogen production

Global technology and power solutions leader Cummins Inc. has provided a 20-megawatt PEM electrolyzer system to generate green hydrogen, making it the largest in operation in the world. The Cummins electrolyzer system is installed at the Air Liquide hydrogen production facility in Bécancour, Québec. The Cummins PEM Electrolyzer can produce more than 3,000 tons of hydrogen annually using clean hydropower.


Creating hydrogen technologies at scale is paramount to growing low-carbon solutions. We have successfully developed our technology from 1MW to 5MW, and now have the largest PEM electrolyzer in operation in the world. It will continue to take enterprises, governments, forward-thinking customers and utilities all working together to make alternative power a reality. Here we are seeing how green hydrogen can improve sustainability for industrial manufacturing and how the demand for decarbonized hydrogen solutions will grow.

—Amy Davis, Cummins Vice President and President of New Power, the company’s alternative power business.

The HyLYZER PEM electrolyzer technology is the result of more than 20 years of development by Hydrogenics, a Canadian company that was acquired by Cummins in September of 2019, a company which Air Liquide retains a 19% stake.

This installation in Québec features four compact pressurized electrolyzer skids that were fitted inside an existing building. This is a modular and scalable electrolyzer platform designed to address utility-scale hydrogen production.

Electrolyzers provide a means to address one of the largest dilemmas in the renewable energy industry, which is how to store the energy when it is not in demand. Cummins’ PEM electrolyzers enable the storage of excess energy that would typically be sold off to the market at a financial loss, or not harnessed at all, and instead store that energy to sell into a new green hydrogen market. They can also be used to decarbonize multiple sectors including zero-emission transportation, industrial processes and the green chemicals sector.

Already a leader in advanced diesel, natural gas and battery technologies, Cummins is rapidly growing its capabilities to support the overall hydrogen economy. Cummins uses fuel cell technologies to power a variety of applications, including transit buses, semi-trucks, delivery trucks, refuse trucks and passenger trains and has made several recent investments to support the overall fuel cell ecosystem. This includes acquiring Hydrogenics, which provided Cummins with PEM fuel cells and both PEM and alkaline electrolyzers, forming a joint venture with NPROXX to produce hydrogen storage tanks, and investing in the development of solid oxide fuel cells.



The question is when do you run systems like this - all the time (to get best return on capital) or only when the grid has an excess of supply. I guess this depends on how much the system costs (and how this is expected to reduce over time).
In Ireland, we have a grid that takes about 6 GW during the afternoons and 4.2 GW of wind. During windy nights (say 12-5.30 am) we often have to curtail 1-2GW of wind.
Thus, to absorb the lower 1GW figure, you would require 50 of the 20 MW Hydrolizers.
Sounds like a lot of money to me.
+ you end up with hydrogen which is hard to store and hard to pipe around and about 53% efficient in a fuel cell.
(So maybe better use in industrial areas than propulsion).



If you have excess wind power at night and a greater need in the afternoon, I would suggest pumped hydro storage as the round trip efficiency is about 80%. You do need hills and water but I do not believe that is a problem in Ireland.

In Quebec, it might be more of a matter of use the available power or loss it. I share your belief that it probably better to use hydrogen for industrial purposes rather than for fuel cells. I also think that the best way to generate hydrogen is to use nuclear power and high temperature electrolysis. That way, more electricity can be used for other purposes.

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