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Content archived on 2024-04-19

Hydrogen generation from stand-alone wind-powered electrolysis systems


This project will seek to design and build a small scale (<10kW), stand-alone wind hydrogen production system. Particular emphasis will be placed on controlling the wind turbine to produce a smooth power output. In this respect the role of short term energy storage using batteries or flywheels will be considered. Finally, the economics of the system implemented will be assessed.

The major deliverables will constitute the final system itself and a report detailing the technical problems encountered, the limits of operation of the electrolysis system, the extent to which the wind power source can match those limits, and the economics of hydrogen production within such a system.

The major technical objectives of the project will be:
1. the assessment of hydrogen electrolysis systems undergoing intermittent operation,
2. comparison of wind turbine operational strategies for dedicated stand-alone hydrogen production,
3. assessment of the overall economics of a stand-alone wind hydrogen system, 4. assessment of the suitability of the technology for use in small community power systems.

Full realization of the potential of renewable energy resources in isolated locations requires efficient means of energy storage.
Hydrogen, generated by the electrolysis of water, could be used as both a storage medium and as a fuel for heating or transportation.
Recent European research has looked at the integration of solar photovoltaic power sources with hydrogen electrolysis. Wind power fluctuates more rapidly than solar power, so there is a more severe problem in matching the irregular power output from a wind turbine to the smooth input requirements of the electrolyser. This project brings together complementary expertise from four laboratories in three EC nations to explore this problem.

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Leicester University Engineering Department (UK) will devise a suitable control strategy to operate a stand-alone wind turbine with the objective of smoothing the power output. The role of a flywheel as a shortterm energy store in such a system will also be studied. In parallel, a wind/battery/electrolyser system will be constructed by ENEA (Italy) and operated on their test site. Experimental data gathered on this system (current/voltage characteristic, gas impurities, etc) will be input to a model of the electrolyser operation developed by DLR (Germany) and any degradation of performance arising from intermittent operation will be identified. The electrolyser will also be operated using a simulated power input derived from the wind/flywheel system and the differences in operation of the two systems analyzed. Finally, an overall assessment will be made of the economics of hydrogen generation by an autonomous system of this nature.

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EU contribution
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United Kingdom

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Participants (3)