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Multi megawatt high-temperature electrolyser for valorisation as energy vector in energy intensive industry


This topic calls for a large-scale multi-megawatt high-temperature electrolyser to be demonstrated in EII under realistic market conditions by using renewable electricity. Steam should be provided, at least partially, from an external source (e.g. from waste heat) in order to illustrate the superior efficiencies of HTE compared to low-temperature electrolyser systems.

The demonstration should prove an economical business case for HTE by generating hydrogen at competitive prices. Prospects for the business case should be solid and well justified. The valorization of any side product (e.g. oxygen or power management) within the industrial environment should be considered too.
It is expected that the project would:

  • Address a particular EII and propose the integration of an HTE. The HTE should be benchmarked against alternative solutions and the advantages of the selected process route for further development under the proposed project should be explained;
  • Manufacture, integrate and operate an HTE at the level of a large pilot (>60 kg/h hydrogen) over a period of at least 36 months;
  • Provide a benchmark stack test of at least 10 kWel with at least 2 different stack technologies;
  • Perform long term operation under realistic operation including cycles for at least 16,000 h (long-term testing);
  • Provide information on integrated process efficiency, electricity and steam consumption, and hydrogen consumption;
  • Evaluate the expected environmental performance – at the very least GHG emissions reduction potential (at the level of the full process route, including production of hydrogen),
  • Minimize the use of any critical raw materials and other major environmental burdens;

Special importance should be given to degradation effects resulting from contaminations either from steam supplies or from the materials that are used inside the system; efficiency degradation rates lower than 0.5%/1000 h at constant hydrogen should be achieved.

The system should consist of a number of HTE modules to enable larger flexibility in operation. Industrial applications typically require different hydrogen qualities up to 5.0 as large differences exist and need to be investigated individually for every application. The project should address whether a pre-treatment of e.g. water/steam, constructional changes in the electrolyser or an after-treatment of hydrogen is the most economical solution in terms of CAPEX, OPEX and achievable hydrogen quality. Furthermore, the project should prove high availability, low maintenance requirements and high efficiency of compression and hydrogen purification systems in combination with rigid requirements of HTE systems in terms of pressure and load fluctuations.

The project should propose future strategies to tackle the issue of constant hydrogen demand of the EII processes and the intermittent availability of renewable energies for the production of renewable hydrogen (e.g. through hybrid power purchasing models, polygeneration or small Steam Methane Reforming (SMR) with renewable gas, large scale hydrogen storage). Therefore, “CertifHy Green H2“ guarantees of origin should be issued through the CertifHy platform to ensure that the hydrogen production is of renewable nature.

A higher thermal and chemical integration of the electrolyser into downstream processes can increase overall efficiency and complexity. Likewise, the utilization of the oxygen produced via HTE has an impact on overall efficiency. Any other auxiliary systems necessary for the specific EII process should be assessed for trade-offs in terms of added value gained against CAPEX and OPEX expenditures to ensure optimal integration of the HTE modules in the plant.

TRL at start: 7 and TRL at end: 8.

Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) dedicated mailbox, which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD and the Hydrogen Event and Lessons LEarNed database, HELLEN.

Test activities should collaborate and use the protocols developed by the JRC Harmonisation Roadmap (see section 3.2.B ""Collaboration with JRC – Rolling Plan 2019""), in order to benchmark performance of components and allow for comparison across different projects.

The maximum FCH 2 JU contribution that may be requested is EUR 7 million. This is an eligibility criterion – proposals requesting FCH 2 JU contributions above this amount will not be evaluated.

A maximum of 1 project may be funded under this topic.

Expected duration: 4 - 5 years.

Energy intensive industries (EII) including food, pulp and paper, basic chemicals, refining, iron and steel, nonferrous metals (primarily aluminum), and nonmetallic minerals (primarily cement) consume around one quarter of the energy in Europe and are a large contributor to GHG emissions. The majority of the energy currently comes from hydrocarbons such as coal, natural gas and oil.

Hydrogen is often the only solution to substitute carbon-based reducing agents, gases, and fuels that brings significant GHG emission reductions, especially if the hydrogen is produced from renewable energy sources. The reason why renewable hydrogen has not yet been rolled-out at a significant scale in EII is due to the high production costs of hydrogen, as well as a slow adaptation rate to emerging technologies in EII such as electrolysis.

The high-temperature electrolyser (HTE) technology is well suited for EII as the availability of low-grade heat sources helps to improve the process efficiency and hence the production costs compared to low-temperature electrolysers (PEM, AEL). The project aims to scale HTE to a level that starts to have recognition in EII while simultaneously presenting the world’s largest HTE. Current HTE technologies have not yet demonstrated the MAWP 2020 targets for efficiency, durability and costs at (i) megawatt scale and (ii) over a relevant period of time. In order to show that these targets can be met in short-term and to increase industrial awareness and confidence, at least 24-month demonstration at an industrial site is needed. Significant efficiency gains should be achieved by fully integrating the HTE into the specific EII processes.

As durability is one of key hurdles to market penetration, it is important and urgent to address degradation effects and robustness of auxiliary equipment such as steam supplies or hydrogen compression and purification. Here, former system projects have shown that combining HTE with compression and hydrogen purification is a special challenge.

Only few HTE stack technologies have been demonstrated on an intermediate scale so far to offer a fast path to scale-up based on full system experience. To ensure the longer-term take-up of the most efficient stack technology, at least 2 different stacks are to be physically benchmarked in a relevant system environment (hotbox test) at 10 kWSOE level and economically evaluated within the project in order to identify the available stack options for further upscaling.

One of the main impact would be building of the world’s largest HTE in EU and demonstration thereby of its both technological and industrial leadership in SOC technology. The demonstration of an HTE as a chemical energy supply for energy intensive industry processes significantly lower the carbon footprint in a specific showcase, integrated in an industrial environment, using renewable electricity. Thanks to the superior efficiencies of HTE, with electricity consumptions of ≤ 40 kWh/kg H2 if operated with steam from exhaust heat, competitive hydrogen prices can be achieved in many industries.

A successful validation of HTE module(s) on multi-megawatt scale and achievement of the KPIs listed below will increase maturity and credibility of the technology. The direct comparative benchmarking of various stacks will favor the emergence of a more specialized/structured supply chain, offering system integrators qualified options for system developments in their specific context.

The project should also reduce the gap between HTE and low-temperature electrolysis such as PEMEL and AEL. The stack benchmarking should also identify the available stack options for further scaling and prepare the path for large cost reductions due to increased production volumes.

A technology comparison will improve the credibility and competitiveness of multiple players in this field. Together with very large potential market, a successful product launch will strengthen the EU industry’s position globally and creates prospects for future jobs.

The target KPIs according to MAWP 2024 (Annex 2) have to be met on the electrolyser system level:

  • Electricity consumption @nominal capacity: ≤ 39 kWh / kg (of hydrogen)
  • Availability: ≥ 98 %
  • Capital Cost: ≤ 2,400 € / (kg/d)
  • Stack production loss rate: ≤ 1.2 %/1,000 h
  • Operations & Maintenance cost ≤ 120 €/(kg/d)/year

The project should present a commercially acceptable service and maintenance concept that shows that O&M cost of ≤ 120 €/(kg/d)/year can be achieved.

Type of action: Innovation Action

The conditions related to this topic are provided in the chapter 3.3 and in the General Annexes to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018– 2020 which apply mutatis mutandis.