Energy giant Shell has put in operation a 10 MW polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyzer for the production of green hydrogen, the largest of its kind in Europe. The technology is particularly suitable for use with variable renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar.
The electrolyzer, located at Shell’s energy and chemicals park Rheinland near Cologne, Germany, is the first to use this technology at such a large scale in a refinery, the British-Dutch multinational company said in a press release.
Plans are under way to expand the capacity to 100 MW, Shell said, adding that it intends to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) using renewable power and biomass. A plant for liquefied renewable natural gas (bio-LNG) is also in development, it said.
PEM electrolyzers can operate when wind and solar energy are cheapest
PEM electrolyzers can operate dynamically using varying loads of electricity, which allows them to operate when wind and solar energy generation is cheapest, according to the press release.
Shell’s electrolyzer will produce 1,300 tons of green hydrogen a year
The Rheinland electrolyzer will use renewable electricity to produce up to 1,300 tons of green hydrogen a year, which will initially be used to produce fuels with lower carbon intensity.
The project was developed through a European consortium called Refhyne and with European Commission funding. In addition to Shell, the consortium comprises hydrogen energy solutions manufacturer ITM Power, research organization SINTEF, and consultancies Sphera and Element Energy.
Hydrogen will help decarbonize transportation and industry
Hydrogen will play a key role in achieving the European Green Deal’s climate targets by helping to decarbonize harder-to-abate sectors such as transportation and industry, Shell noted.
Shell to work with power producer Uniper on large-scale hydrogen transportation projects
Shell has also signed a memorandum of understanding with German power producer Uniper to explore options for developing the infrastructure for large-scale transportation of hydrogen, which they said would help speed up the development of a hydrogen economy in Europe.
Uniper, for its part, has signed an agreement with energy services provider EWE to set up a hydrogen hub in Huntorf, Germany, where they plan to generate hydrogen using wind power, as well as store it and create the infrastructure to make it available to industry and the transportation sector, according to a joint press release.