The energy storage and clean fuel firm said the electrolyser, which features advanced polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) technology, will be the largest of its kind in the world and is expected to be completed in the second half of 2020 with the capacity to produce up to 1,300 tons of hydrogen per year at peak rates. Overall, the 10MW plant will produce renewable hydrogen amounting to around 1% of the refinery’s annual consumption of 180,000 tonnes.
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The electrolyser will use ‘green’ energy to produce renewable hydrogen for the refinery, which can then be used as a replacement for hydrogen derived from fossil fuels.
Dr Graham Cooley, ITM Power’s chief executive, said “the 10MW electrolyser plant is the “building block” to 100MW PEM electrolyser plants that will be used not only for refineries but also for the production of renewable ammonia, methanol and steel as well as for refuelling heavy vehicles such as trains, trucks and buses. Industrial demand for large scale electrolysis is steadily growing.”
He added that the groundbreaking demonstrated “a very good working relationship” between ITM Power and oil supermajor Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSA) and that installing such a large electrolyser plant in a refinery had required the satisfaction of “very strict” compliance rules.
Meanwhile, Simon Bourne, ITM Power’s chief technical officer, said the plant was “an important moment” for the company and its partners and that large scale electrolysis was now seen as an important element in the “decarbonisation of key industrial processes”.
ITM Power is part of the REFHYNE consortium, a group of companies that includes Shell.
In a statement announcing the groundbreaking of the plant, Shell said it expected a new hydrogen model region to be set up in the German city of Cologne, close to the Rheinland refinery, based on activities around filling stations, cars and buses that could demonstrate the potential of hydrogen energy.
ITM Power also announced on 7th May the extension of the UK refuelling collaboration agreement with Shell, which will run until 2024, and covers the refuelling of all types of hydrogen vehicles; from passenger cars to commercial vehicles, including buses, trucks, trains and ships.
With the growing pressure on oil majors to move into renewable energy sources the relationship between ITM Power and Shell certainly seems primed for great success.