Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: Water electrolysis shows a high potential to produce hydrogen with a very low carbon footprint. Also electrolysers can provide services such as load response management to evolving electricity grids.

Current systems are designed for high efficiency at their operating design point, at typically close to 100% load, and to run continuously. Providing energy services is expected to require start-stop and dynamic operation and high efficiency across much of the load curve. While a number of electrolyser operating strategies can be used to help balance supply and demand, the electrolyser manufacturing industry is still rather uncertain as to which of the requirements will ultimately provide financial income in a future energy market.

Moreover, in order to compete with central steam methane reforming as hydrogen source, electrolysers must both benefit from very low electricity prices as a result of higher volatility, but even more important, to reduce capital cost to a fraction of the current figures, namely -30% in 2020. Proper design of next electrolyser systems, to be commercially available no later than 2020, must focus in developments both in stack design as well as in the balance of plant components and system engineering.

Scope:  Proposals should address the following developments:

•             Identification of the performance specifications required to provide grid services in a broad sense, as potential income sources for an electrolyser operator. Fact based assessment of specifications, supported by experimental evidences (i.e. from existing facilities, especially interaction with the grid and renewable electricity sources), is highly valuable

•             System and component optimization for partial load operation

•             System and component optimization for highly dynamic operation (ramp-up rates, warm start-up, cold start-up, standby behaviour)

•             Control system designed to enhance interaction with the grid and renewable sources

•             System engineering and improvements in manufacturing process for decreasing costs, contributing to system simplification, cost reduction, material use minimisation or that put in place a path to volume manufacturing

•             Characterise and improve understanding of degradation and degradation mechanisms, particularly under dynamic operation

•             Assessment of operation at off-nominal conditions (at higher current density) with regard to CAPEX and OPEX cost and additional revenues (through grid balancing services, fees to make available a power capacity to over-consume renewable electricity on request of the grid operator). The economical optimization shall be identified, depending on the geographies, local regulations and tariffs

Individual improvements in technology should aim at a TRL increase from at least 4 (technology validated in lab) to minimum 5 (technology validated in relevant environment). Real environment should be understood as directly scalable to multi-MW electrolysers.

Expected impact:             Identifying incremental improvements of design addressing central KPIs in 2020, as per the study on “Development of water electrolysis in the European Union ”, as well as adopting innovative approaches in grid and renewable electricity interaction for electrolysers, should be key drivers in projects led by electrolyser manufacturers and technologists. Projects should aim to demonstrate in relevant environments, including fluctuating grid dynamics, incremental applied research already verified at lab scale, in short applied research and innovation cycles paving the way for following projects to full-scale prototyping and even demonstration projects.

Activities will contribute to a faster achievement towards 2020 central KPIs, decreasing electricity consumption to 52 kWh/kg H2 for alkaline electrolysers and 48 kWh/kg H2 for PEM electrolysers, and capital cost to 630 EUR/kW for alkaline electrolysers and 1,000 EUR/kW for PEM electrolysers), whilst allowing electrolysers to a fully integrated operation with renewable sources and grid management services.

Outcome of the projects must derive in components, subsystems, systems and services which can be tested in full scale and operational environment as a next step.

Projects should build upon knowledge and experience from relevant previously funded FCH-JU projects.

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