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“Holland Hydrogen I Project Plays an Important Role for Energy Transition” – Noeres, Thyssenkrupp nucera


In this interview, The Managing Editor of The Energy Republic, NDUBUISI MICHEAL OBINEME, talks to Dr. Christoph Noeres, Head of Green Hydrogen at ThyssenKrupp nucera, about lighthouse projects of hydrogen production coupled with his company’s involvement in Holland Hydrogen I project in Rotterdam, the partnership with H2 Green Steel to build one of the largest integrated green steel plants in Europe or the 2-gigawatt project in Saudi Arabia. Excerpts:

TER: There have been numerous growth potential reports on hydrogen production globally, including expanding Electrolyzer manufacturing capacities to meet the growing demand for clean hydrogen (H2) production. As an Electrolyzer provider, what would you recommend as a national strategy for countries to support water electrolysis project development?

Noeres: Green hydrogen is becoming more and more important worldwide as more countries around the world are planning to enter the green hydrogen economy. If you want to protect the climate, you can’t get around green hydrogen. The hydrogen-supportive programs in the US, Canada, and Australia demonstrate a significant movement towards supporting the cost of manufacture and crossing the Final Investment Decision border. From the manufacturing supply chain point of view, this is a huge facilitation and a strong incentive to invest.

We do need similar easy-to-navigate funding systems in Europe as well. The message has been received. Europe has now also given a strong impetus to the Hydrogen Bank and the Net Zero Industry Act.
Specifically, investment certainty is key to speeding up building necessary capacities.

For companies to finance and invest in global projects, governmental initiatives have to provide certainty and support for the costs of green hydrogen and clean energy for a long period of at least one decade. The IRA in the US is a good example of what is possible.

A representative survey on our behalf provides strong support. Three-quarters of the German population (74%) and decision-makers from industry (75%) demand greater promotion of carbon-free hydrogen from EU policymakers. More than two-thirds (68%) of citizens and 81% of decision-makers from industry see Europe’s competitiveness at risk without consistent promotion.

TER: Based on our findings, hydrogen produced with water electrolysis is one of the most promising alternatives to storing energy from renewable energy resources, with numerous emission benefits. However, there have been some limitations in terms of the hydrogen that can be extracted from water electrolysis due to some economic and technological issues. Please could you shed more light on the challenges? and, how is your company adopting the new technique, moving from small – large scale production of Electrolyzer, more especially at the Holland Hydrogen 1 project in Rotterdam?

Noeres: Water electrolysis is becoming the key technology for building a sustainable, flexible energy system and a low-carbon industry. Delivering industrial-scale projects is essential for green hydrogen to bring power to the energy transition. We deal with different kinds of challenges to realize large-scale production.

First of all, we have to convert our production to serial production to be able to offer large quantities of green hydrogen in the gigawatt range. Additionally, we need the standardization of our processes to ramp up the entire supply chain. We are thus in a transformation process: the transition from a project business to a product business with the standardized 20 MW modules “scalum” and serial production. However, companies like ours making standardized equipment and building trust for industrial players to rely on is an important step for all players of the entire supply chain to build higher capacities.

The high demand for green hydrogen and the movement from a few MW to larger-scale hundred-MW-sized orders is reflected in our projects. For example, our scalable standardized 20 MW modules are already being used in our project with Shell for the Port of Rotterdam Holland Hydrogen I with its 200 MW as one of the largest announced hydrogen projects in Europe.

Furthermore, we supply Electrolyzer with more than 700 MW capacity for H2 Green Steel to build one of the largest integrated green steel plants in Europe.

And we are not only capable of carrying out larger projects, but we are also already doing it, as the more than 2-gigawatt project in Saudi Arabia shows.

TER: As a Contractor for Holland Hydrogen 1 Project, what are the greatest lessons learned from the development of the plant so far?

Noeres: Holland Hydrogen I is a wonderful best practice for a successful collaboration between different players along the supply chain to get synchronized results.

Our partnership perfectly combines our engineering excellence with Shell’s competence as a large global energy player and Port of Rotterdam’s infrastructure expertise. Those collaborations help us ramp up capacities to produce green hydrogen. Not only in terms of industrial decarbonization but also in terms of mobility, Holland Hydrogen I play an important role in the entire energy transition.

TER: Alkaline Water Electrolysis (AWE) and Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) are the dominant technologies regarding global hydrogen project opportunities, according to a Bloomberg NEF report. What’s your perspective on these technologies? And what would be the multiplier effect on H2 projects going forward?

Noeres: Based on our more than 50 years of electrolysis experience, we use alkaline water electrolysis technology. It is the most advanced technology today and the world’s dominant electrolysis technology based on production capacity, according to an International Energy Agency report.

Alkaline water electrolysis has proven to be efficient and reliable. Due to its maturity and bankability, AWE’s advantages pay off most in large-scale projects which usually start in the 3-digit MW scale and above.

AWE has a decisively faster ramp-up time in terms of manufacturing capacities and a better TCO (total cost of ownership) which is why it has decisive advantages in terms of investment and operating costs, while PEM technology can have advantages in smaller plants due to the compact design of the stacks.

The capability of highly dynamic operations for coupling volatile renewable energies as the argument in favor of PEM also applies to alkaline electrolysis. In 2019, we have proven this in our 2 MW Carbon2Chem plant together with E.ON.

The fact that the AWE technology is particularly suitable for large-scale applications is also demonstrated by our latest project award with H2 Green Steel.

The Swedish industrial start-up will use our 20 MW modules “scalum” with a capacity of more than 700 MW to build both the first large-scale green steel plant in Europe and one of the largest water electrolysis plants in Europe.

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