Ireland-based Fusion Fuel Green has developed a small PEM electrolyzer that will be used in a green hydrogen project in Iberia. Elsewhere, India’s Adani Group and Canada-based PEM fuel cell producer Ballard Power Systems have signed a memorandum of understanding to evaluate a joint investment in the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cells for mobility and industrial applications in India.

Irish green hydrogen business Fusion Fuel Green and Portuguese self-consumption energy project developer KEME Energy have agreed to install a green hydrogen plant in Sines, Portugal. “The project, which is expected to require a capital investment of €2.54 million, would have an equivalent electrolysis capacity of 1.22MW and produce an estimated 77 tons of green hydrogen per annum,” Fusion said today. “The output from the facility will be used by the Sines Renewable Energy Community.” The project will feature a special proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer developed by the Irish company. Called Hevo, the electrolyzer is powered by a concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) cell, which converts more than 40% of the solar energy it captures into electricity. The remaining 60% is released as thermal energy. By coupling directly to the CPV unit, Hevo can use electrical energy without transport or conversion losses to power the electrochemical reaction while using thermal energy to preheat the feed water and reduce the energy load needed to split the water molecule. “In a place with 2,100 kilowatt-hours per square meter per year of solar irradiation, which coincides with the annual average in the south of Portugal, each Hevo Solar [unit] can produce 1 ton of hydrogen per year,” said Fusion Fuel Green, adding “it is also designed to use renewable energy from the grid or other sources to operate at night or when the sun is not shining, which would double the annual production of each unit.”

India’s Adani Group and Canadian PEM fuel cell producer Ballard Power Systems have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to evaluate a joint investment in the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cells for mobility and industrial applications in India. “Under the MoU, both parties will examine various options to cooperate, including potential collaboration for fuel cell manufacturing in India,” Adani Group wrote yesterday.

Breakthrough

Researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) have demonstrated an “easily produced” composite of gallium and aluminum creates aluminum nanoparticles that react rapidly with water at room temperature, to yield large amounts of hydrogen. “We don’t need any energy input and it bubbles hydrogen like crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said UCSC chemistry professor Scott Oliver who, together with professor Bakthan Singaram, wrote a paper on the finding, which was published last week in Applied Nano Materials. “The gallium was easily recovered for reuse after the reaction, which yields 90% of the hydrogen that could theoretically be produced from [the] reaction of all the aluminum in the composite,” the researchers wrote. A US patent application is pending on the technology.

The government of Niger has signed an agreement with Germany’s Emerging Energy Corporation (EEC) to work together to explore and develop commercial green hydrogen projects in the African state. “Emerging Energy Corporation will also invest in various project[s] to decarbonize oil field operations and refineries in Niger with carbon capture technologies,” EEC said yesterday. “Green hydrogen will be produced in Niger by electrolysis, using renewable power.  This low-carbon solution will decarbonize emission-intensive industries in Niger, Africa, Europe and other countries that depend a lot on fossil fuels.” The agreement came after last week’s summit between the African Union and the EU. German economy and climate protection minister Robert Habeck last week said hydrogen will ramp up very quickly in a short time as he visited energy company Apex Energy, in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Euro-African co-operation plans include a project consortium led by Norwegian clean energy company Scatec, which is planning to install an electrolyzer near the Suez Canal ahead of the COP27 climate summit in Egypt.

Green hydrogen help

Australian engineer Worley, Swedish-Swiss electrical equipment firm ABB, and American tech giant IBM have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop an “integrated, digitally enabled solution for facility owners to build green hydrogen assets more quickly, cheaply, and safely, and operate them more efficiently.” Worley will provide engineering, procurement, and construction expertise; ABB electrical infrastructure input, automation, operations digitalization and optimization, and energy management; and IBM will support systems integration.

Belgian consortium Hyoffwind – comprising generation company Virya Energy and gas transport system operator Fluxys – has signed an agreement with compatriot businesses the mechanical engineer John Cockerill and construction company Besix to design and build a green hydrogen production unit in Zeebrugge. “The permit application process was begun in late 2021 and the consortium expects to receive a permit by mid-2022,” said Fluxys last week. “The final investment decision, which is also subject to the granting of subsidies by the Flemish government under the [Covid] recovery plan, will be made in the course of 2022.” John Cockerill has reported solid growth in its electrolyzer business and last week claimed to be “the global leader in the supply of electrolyzers in 2021, with a 33% market share of shipments.” The business sold almost 200MW of electrolyzer capacity last year to book a threefold annual rise in hydrogen revenue. The company said it shipped two stacks of electrolyzers in November which had a unit power of 6.5MW, which John Cokerill described as “the largest in the world.”

The Hy24 joint venture between French private investment house Ardian and Swiss hydrogen asset management company FiveT Hydrogen will acquire a 30% stake in the renewables division of Spanish energy company Enagás. The Enagás Renovable start-up was founded in 2019 with a portfolio of more than 50 Spanish renewable gas and decarbonization projects. The furthest advanced projects represent more than 750MW of electrolysis capacity with planned commercial operation dates between next year and 2026. “This deal follows the first investment made earlier this month in participating [in] the €200 million fund rais[ing round] of the German company Hy2gen AG,” Hy24 said today.

University College London (UCL) spin-out company Bramble Energy has closed a £35 million (€42 million) investment round which should help the company expand its hydrogen fuel cell stack operations. “UCL engineers think about solutions that will ‘change the world’ and the faculty of engineering is very entrepreneurially-minded, incubating young companies such as Bramble to maximize the chances of success,” said UCL chemical engineering professor Dan Brett last week. Brett is the co-founder of Bramble Energy, a company led by UK-based investor HydrogenOne Capital Growth and supported by institutional investors including the BGF small business investor set up by the biggest UK banks in the wake of the financial crisis; London-based university intellectual property investors IP Group and Parkwalk Advisors; and the UCL Technology Fund which is part of London based investor Albion Capital Group.

UK-Australia

The UK is collaborating with several countries in the hydrogen sector. Last week, for instance, the British government spoke with Australian politicians about measures to boost bilateral cooperation and work more closely in the Indo-Pacific. “[UK-based fund manager] Octopus Australia is partnering with an indigenous business group to create Desert Springs Octopus, a project worth £26 billion (€31.2 billion) over ten years that will deliver wind, solar and hydrogen energy,” the British government announced last week. 

The UK is also proceeding with natural gas powered blue hydrogen plans. The Eni UK unit of the Italian energy company this month announced it has signed agreements with 19 companies interested in having their emissions captured, transported and stored at Eni UK’s depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs, as part of the HyNet North West industrial decarbonization project focused on the North West of England and North Wales.