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Continuous supply of green or low carbon H2 and CHP via Solid Oxide Cell based Polygeneration


The project should develop, engineer, build a polygeneration system and test/operate it for 5,000 hours in a real industrial or mobility environment. It is expected that every mode should be operated for at least 20% of the total operating time. The polygeneration system should also meet the following criteria:

  • Electrolysis output > 20 kg/day;
  • LHV-based efficiency in electrolysis mode > 75%;
  • LHV-based efficiency in fuel cell mode >75% accounting H2 LHV, electricity and useful heat or 70% accounting H2 LHV and electricity;
  • Part load operation capability as low as 30% for hydrogen production;
  • Transient operation capability and reverse cycle time of <30 minutes;
  • Degradation <0.5%/khrs on H2 production and electricity efficiency, including mode and thermal cycling at constant hydrogen output (or equivalent as adequate to the specific use case).

The system design and construction should be based on component modelling and testing to better understand and enhance degradation and performance in different operational modes.

The project should also cover the development of a demand and operational model, ensuring that “CertifHy Green H2“ or “CertifHy Low-Carbon H2” guarantees of origin are issued through the CertifHy platform to ensure that the hydrogen production is renewable or low-carbon depending on the operation mode. The flexibility of polygeneration should ensure that the demand side for hydrogen does not have to follow the supply side of renewable electricity.

The operational model should consider the market constraints such as electricity and ‘grey’ hydrogen prices, access to capacity markets etc. and lead into a profitable business model. If a profitable business model is not possible, the obstacles towards profitability should be identified and communicated.

Depending on the environment, syngas (CO + H2) can be an alternative to pure H2.

TRL at start: 4-5 and TRL at end: 6.

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 3 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: 3 - 4 years.

There is increased penetration of various intermittent (electric) power generation sources in combination with a shift towards fossil-free hydrogen from power. This combination requires back-up solutions during dark doldrums, for a reliable continuous supply of electric power as well as renewable hydrogen.

Tackling this challenge by coupling the industrial, power, heat and mobility sectors by using reversible Solid Oxide Cell (SOC) technology integrated into existing infrastructures allows to achieve this with high flexibility at low cost. SOC have the ability to provide adequate energy transformation processes as required by the overall energy system situation, both storing or generating electricity while assuring continuous hydrogen supply, e.g. for critical processes. For example, a polygeneration system has the ability to provide hydrogen from electricity in the electrolysis (SOE) mode or from methane when no electricity is available (SOFC mode). In the latter case, the system also provides electricity and heat, usually adequately with demand.

Various projects such as GrInHy and CH2P are already addressing the constitutive basic blocks to build polygeneration systems such as the Solid Oxide membrane reactor, reformers, and shift reactors. Within these projects, the systems demonstrate different sub-sets of a polygeneration system but not the entire scope. In order to achieve reversible polygeneration for continuous hydrogen supply, the thermal integration, fast and save mode changes as well as a lower cost and efficient gas downstream processing present the main challenges. A high system efficiency in the various modes is required to deliver economical attractive solutions and needs to be balanced with proper component dimensioning to avoid excessive costs.

The challenge also includes the identification of specific use cases where an appropriate payback on the investment cost can be expected associated to a sufficient market volume to allow adequate cost reduction. Such cases are expected to be found in mobility applications with seasonality of renewable electricity supply (hydro, solar) and for chemical processes but might be found also in other domains. Setup of business models that allow demand driven secured supply of low-carbon hydrogen and power from distributed specific points, such as in transport or grid serving, especially pathways allowing stepping forward quickly on the market with limited or no subsidies.

Polygeneration systems will provide continuous renewable and low carbon hydrogen and ensure a fast and reliable path for the deployment of hydrogen use. The project should therefore expected to have the following impacts:

  1. Demonstration of secure year-round green or low carbon H2 availability of over 90% for hydrogen dependent processes, also during dark doldrums;
  2. Year round hydrogen availability and polygeneration assuring maximum annual capacity utilization reducing thereby the specific CAPEX (i.e. CAPEX per kg of H2 or kWh electricity) is reduced to <5,000 €/(kg H2/day) at an annual system manufacturing volume corresponding to 40,000 kg/day;
  3. Replacement of carbon intensive steam reformers and hydrogen-logistics with reduction of >60% in CO2 emission per kg of produced hydrogen;
  4. Cost effectiveness with targets of 3.50 €/kg H2 (@40 €/MWhel) and 5.00 €/kg (@80 €/MWhel);
  5. Offer lower cost and low carbon foot print system for distributed supply of hydrogen accelerating the rollout of hydrogen infrastructure in transport;
  6. Removal of the need for expensive back-up systems for hydrogen supply for the generation of hydrogen from renewable sources, allowing the highly flexible system to couple the different sectors of electricity, industry, mobility and heat; this flattens peak prices caused by the compensation of fluctuation/intermittency, a major bottleneck as of today;
  7. Providing additional volumes of stack manufacturing in this application and supporting the volume-driven cost reduction path in further fields of application such as SOE and cogeneration.
  8. The project offers the opportunity for new operational and business models, showing profitability or identifying the hurdles to profitability.

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.