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Shell to build world’s largest hydrogen plant of its kind in Germany

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The project, with ITM Power, will take shape at the Wesseling site of the Rhineland refinery.

With a capacity of ten megawatts, it would be the largest plant of its kind in Germany and the largest PEM (polymer electrolyte membrane) electrolysis in the world.

In addition to the production of hydrogen, the technology could also contribute to the stabilization of the electricity grid with an increasing share of irregularly available renewable energies in the energy mix.

Shell represented by Shell Deutschland Oil GmbH and Shell Energy Europe Ltd, together with the European consortium partners ITM Power plc, SINTEF, thinkstep and Element Energy, have been invited by the European Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking (FCH 2 JU) to prepare a contract to promote the project.

The Rheinland refinery already uses around 180,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year for its production processes. This is produced by steam reforming from natural gas and water vapor. In the case of electrolysis, on the other hand, water is split into hydrogen and oxygen by means of current.

The project would enable the construction and operation of an electrolysis with a capacity of ten megawatts. The aim is to test the technology on an industrial scale, to achieve cost synergies and to develop new business models. The electrolysis operated with inexpensive electricity from renewable energies could be a key technology for a potential CO 2 free hydrogen generation in the Rhineland refinery.

“The planned hydrogen electrolysis would be a step that opens up many possibilities for the future,” says Raffineriedirektor Dr. Thomas Zengerly.

“The hydrogen produced can be fully integrated into the refinery processes. The site also allows the facility to be expanded at a later stage to deliver hydrogen to potential customers outside the refinery.”

“Hydrogen is a promising technology also beyond the direct use as a clean fuel in the transport sector . In the future hydrogen is expected to play an important role in the integration of energy storage and grid balancing. In this way, hydrogen can contribute to the reliability of the energy system with a growing share of irregularly available renewable energies in the energy mix,” said Brian Davis, VP, Integrated Energy Solutions at Shell.



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