The Hydrogen Stream: Off-grid hydrogen power solution based on alkaline fuel cell from Israel, first green hydrogen production in Russia

  • Jun 22, 2021
  • PV Magazine

Israel-based manufacturer of fuel cell energy solutions, GenCell Energy, has completed an advanced testing period of its experimental GenCell A5 off-grid hydrogen power solution, based on alkaline fuel cell (AFC) technology, at the site of an active emergency communications system (ECS) station outside Reykjavik, Iceland, operated by state-owned Icelandic telecom provider Neyðarlínan. “GenCell and Neyðarlínan ohf have agreed to carry out a second testing period in the extreme weather conditions typical of the Arctic regions in the winter months, between December 2021 and February 2022. Following the satisfactory completion of the winter evaluation, the two companies will negotiate the deployment of GenCell A5 units at 112 active emergency communication sites across Iceland,” reads the note released on Monday.

Representatives of Italian utility Enel and Russian innovation development agency Rusnano have discussed collaboration opportunities to create Russia’s first green hydrogen production project at a wind farm in the Murmansk region. “The joint project with Rusnano will be our first step in starting to explore this promising area in various parts of Russia,” said Simone Mori, the head of Enel’s Europe division. The two companies had signed a memorandum of understanding to look into the option to produce hydrogen at Enel Russia’s Kola Wind Power Plant (capacity: 201 MW), which is being constructed in the Murmansk region. According to Rusnano, it will be the largest wind farm in the Russian Arctic, and will be able to generate 750 GWh of electricity per year. “Russia has a huge potential, both as a producer and as a consumer of green hydrogen … The successful implementation of this joint project with Enel will prove that there is a real demand for the production of green hydrogen, and enable us to scale up the project in the future, thus contributing to the development of Russia’s national hydrogen strategy,” said Sergey Kulikov, chairman of the executive board of Rusnano. The meeting happened during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum earlier this month.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) presented, last week, the country's “green growth strategy,” aiming to accelerate the energy transition and achieve carbon neutrality in 2050. “Pursue hydrogen as an option to the maximum possible extent. Increase supply and demand, improve infrastructure, and reduce costs. Create a hydrogen industry and fuel ammonia industry,” reads the strategy to 2050 published by Japan’s trade and industry ministry. Japan wants to become the leader in the growing ‘green-steel' market. METI plans to subsidize technology innovation in steelmaking processes using part of a ¥2 trillion (€15.2 billion) government fund meant to support green innovation in the next 10 years. The Japanese government and national companies are looking into carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies, indicating that the country could give priority to blue hydrogen. On Tuesday, for instance, Tokyo-based general trading company Itochu said it is joining the Geological Carbon Dioxide Storage Technology Research Association, to participate in a project to research and develop technologies for the underground sequestration of carbon dioxide. On Tuesday, Hiroshi Kajiyama, Japan’s minister of economy, attended the first Asia CCUS Network Forum and announced the launch of the “Asia CCUS Network.”

The Colombian Congress has approved the Energy Transition Law. The law, which now only requires the president’s signature, recognizes green and blue hydrogen as non-conventional sources of renewable energy. This means that the technologies behind these two types of hydrogen will be eligible for the tax benefits of Law 1715: Income deduction, VAT exclusion, zero tariffs, and accelerated depreciation. Regarding sustainable mobility, the text of the law suggests that the national government will adopt programs to promote the use of hydrogen and gas fuel in land transportation, for both goods and passengers.

California-based developer NewHydrogen signed an agreement to further expand the existing sponsored research agreement with the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) to develop technology to reduce the cost of green hydrogen production. “With an increased budget, the new agreement expands the scope of the non-precious-metal-based oxygen evolution reaction (OER) catalyst development program,” reads the note released on Tuesday. The UCLA researchers came up with a non-precious-metal-based catalyst that “demonstrated significant improvement of OER in acidic conditions by substituting part of the existing metal element in the aforementioned catalyst material structure.” NewHydrogen sees, in the catalyst’s low cost and high durability, two good reasons to use the non-precious-metal instead of platinum.

Australia’s federal environment minister, Sussan Ley, has rejected the latest plans proposed for the 26 GW, AU$50-billion (€31.6 billion) Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) in Western Australia. The project, possibly the largest green energy and hydrogen endeavor in the world, was granted major project status by the Commonwealth government last year. The reversal of fortune is due to the AREH’s alleged impacts on wetlands near Eighty Mile Beach, which are designated as having international significance under the 1971 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. AREH consortium members include green hydrogen developers Intercontinental Energy, renewable energy developer CWP Global, wind-turbine system manufacturer Vestas, indigenous people the Nyangumarta, and the Australian National University’s Energy Change Institute. “We will take concerns on board as we continue to work on the detailed design and engineering aspects of the project,” the group said. According to the original timeline, green hydrogen exports should start in 2027/2028.

Nel Hydrogen Electrolyser, a division of Norway-based hydrogen company Nel ASA, has entered into a collaboration for a fossil-free hydrogen facility in Hofors, Sweden, together with partners Ovako, Volvo, Hitachi ABB, and H2 Green Steel. “We are very excited to enter into this shared initiative to jointly develop fossil-free alternatives for the steel industry. Green hydrogen has the characteristics to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from steel rolling and milling, and this will be the first project in the world to heat steel with hydrogen prior to rolling,” Jon André Løkke, Nel’s CEO, commented in a note released on Tuesday. According to Nel, the conversion to hydrogen will enable reduction of CO2 emissions for steel production in Hofors by 50%, with additional positive externalities. “The plant can be used flexibly and can therefore support the stability of the electrical grid, which in turn will permit more use of renewable energy sources. Additionally, it will be a step in the direction of developing a hydrogen infrastructure for the transportation sector, with locally produced fossil-free hydrogen for fuel cell vehicle trucks.”

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