World’s largest green-hydrogen plant begins operation in Austria


The 6MW facility in Linz, running Siemens electrolyzers, will provide clean H2 for steel production

The world’s largest green-hydrogen production facility has commenced operations in Austria, “setting an international milestone in the advancement of new energy supply options”, according to the project partners.

The 6MW H2Future plant, at steelmaker Voestalpine’s site in Linz, running a Siemens Silyzer 300 PEM electrolyzer that splits water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity provided by Austrian utility Verbund.

“The new plant has a capacity of over 6MW, and is currently regarded as the most effective and state-of-the-art facility of its type,” said a statement from the partners, which also include Austrian Power Grid and the Dutch research organization TNO.

“It will be used to test whether the technology deployed to produce green hydrogen is suitable for use on an industrial scale. Furthermore, the project, which receives €18m [$20m] in EU funding, will investigate the potential to provide network services, and potentially compensate for fluctuations in the power grid.”

The clean-burning emissions-free hydrogen produced at the site will be used for steel production.

“In light of global climate targets, Voestalpine is currently investigating the practicality of hybrid technology to bridge between the existing coke/coal-based blast furnace route and electric arc furnaces powered with green electricity partly generated using green hydrogen,” says Voestalpine. “If economically feasible, from today’s perspective this option would reduce the group’s CO2 emissions by around a third sometime between 2030 and 2035.”

Siemens adds: “H2Future is an important milestone for the industrial application of electrolysis as a cornerstone for future industrial applications in the steel industry, in refineries, the manufacture of fertilizers, and other industrial sectors requiring large volumes of hydrogen. It creates the basis for future projects on an industrial scale.”

Green hydrogen is still at an early stage of development, although the technology is expected to be rapidly scaled up in the coming years, with businesses increasingly seeing the potential for the carbon-free fuel in long-term energy storage, heat, transport, and industrial processes. Long-term electrolysis projects of 5GW are already in the pipeline, with larger pilot plants due to come online in the coming years.

A 10MW PEM electrolysis plant, REFHYNE, is under construction at Shell’s Rheinland refinery in Wesseling, Germany, and is due to be completed in the second half of 2020, while a 30MW pilot — part of a 700MW project — is expected to be up and running in northwest Germany by 2025.

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