FCH-02.1-2015 - Improved electrolysis for Off-grid Hydrogen production
Proposals must address the following objectives:
- Development of off-grid electrolysers (alkaline or PEM technology) optimized at component and system levels, supplied by renewable energy sources - RE (e.g. solar PV and small wind energy), achieving MAWP 2017 target for electrolyser systems of 6M€/tpd capacity, high efficiency consistent with MAWP targets (<55kWh/kg by 2017 for electrolyser systems), high annual hydrogen yield and capacity factor with respect to the RE considering the constraints of dynamic operation
- Development of power conversion and balance-of-plant hardware adapted to operate electrolysers in variable power mode, necessary for the off-grid system to perform efficiently, taking into account system topology (DC-DC, AC-DC, etc.) and grid constraints
- Development of a control system with the capability of smart integration in off-grid installations and RE generation forecasting
- In-field testing in relevant environment (TRL 6) is required (relevant environment is understood as existing renewable systems in off-grid conditions – e.g. PV system, small wind energy - in the range of 50-100 kW) for at least 6 months
Proposals could address the additional following objectives:
- Developments at stack level in order to operate properly the electrolyser in a broad operation load profiles taking into account each installation and at high dynamic operation
- System engineering in order to decrease the maintenance costs and frequency and increase reliability, robustness and lifetime
- Identification of eventual RCS barriers between the technology and the business cases identified
- Potential uses of hydrogen should be explored
- Electrolyser efficiency consistent with MAWP targets by 2017 for electrolyser systems (&<55kWh/kg), when converted from solar or wind power to hydrogen (with respect to Lower Heating Value - LHV)
- Design to integrate solar and/or wind resources
- Address business cases and applications where the specific off grid approach may have a significant impact
- As reported in the MAWP, target KPIs on cost per nominal power for alkaline and PEM electrolysers will be considered
It is estimated that 1.2 billion people will be without electricity access globally by 2025. A further 1 billion people are connected to unstable networks and are regularly exposed to power outages. It may thus be considered that 2.4 billion people (i.e. around 35% of the global population) are “under electrified”.
When the connection of a major distribution network to the transport network is not a feasible option from a technical and economic perspective, onsite energy is generated off-grid.
Islands are particularly concerned by this type of situation. Indeed, electricity generation there is guaranteed by diesel generating units, despite their high production costs and pollutant emissions simply due to the absence of simple and feasible alternatives.
This is a significant market, part of which is represented by installed diesel production capacity of 600GW, whose half is installed on off-grid sites.
Hydrogen is envisioned as a potential solution for completely off-grid remote areas in Europe (e.g. villages, alpine refuges, etc.). These locations cannot be isolated of the global hydrogen development due to their off-grid characteristic and need to be part of the hydrogen technologies development coupled to renewable systems taking into account their intrinsic characteristics, applications and business case scenarios. The potential use of the hydrogen produced is varied, such as mobility applications, industrial use, stationary heat, large back-up systems, telecommunications, etc. and it increases the potential access to hydrogen technologies to these areas.
The newly proposed solution of off-grid electrolysers can pave the way to efficient hydrogen production systems optimized for a given region. Indigenous off-grid hydrogen generation may occur at highly distributed level close to the point of use (e.g. dc-dc PV-electrolyser systems). It could be used also as an energy system able to assure the energy independence of small locations in a municipal area or industry park, relying as much as possible on renewable sources locally available.
Current electrolysers must be improved in order to match the operation conditions linked to an off-grid and stand-alone scenario (dynamic operation, unpredictability of operation profiles, high robustness and reliability, low maintenance, etc.). Electrolyser manufacturers still need to improve some systems of the technology in order to work at variable load profiles efficiently, high efficiency at broad operating range and cost competitiveness. Proper design of these electrolysers in the range of 50-100 kW for off-grid applications must focus on developments at stack level, power electronics and balance of plant components and system engineering.