Europe’s Largest PEM Electrolyser to Produce 100MW Green Hydrogen

The project is being funded by the Refhyne Consortium and the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) initiative of the European Commission; this is the first time an entire refinery is being powered by green hydrogen from a PEM electrolyser

A glimpse of Shell’s Noordzee offshore wind farm in Netherlands. Credit: Stuart Conway for Shell

A glimpse of Shell’s Noordzee offshore wind farm in Netherlands. Credit: Stuart Conway for Shell

Operations of Europe’s largest hydrogen electrolyser to generate green hydrogen using Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) technology have begun at the Energy and Chemicals Park at Rheinland, near Cologne. The plant has been funded by the Refhyne European consortium and the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) initiative of the European Commission. This is the first time that a PEM electrolyser is being used to source hydrogen to power an entire refinery. Shell has confirmed that it has plans to expand the electrolyser’s current capacity from 10MW to 100MW.

The Rheinland site is also where Shell has announced a facility to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) using renewable power and biomass and a plant for liquefied renewable natural gas (bio-LNG). Commenting on the occasion, Huibert Vigeveno, Shell’s Downstream Director said: “This project demonstrates a new kind of energy future and a model of lower-carbon energy production that can be replicated worldwide. Shell wants to become a leading supplier of green hydrogen for industrial and transport customers in Germany. We will be involved in the whole process, from power generation, using offshore wind, to hydrogen production and distribution across sectors. We want to be the partner of choice for our customers as we help them decarbonise.”

The PEM electrolyser in Rheinland will use electricity produced by renewable sources to produce up to 1,300 tonnes of green hydrogen annually. Initially, the plan is to use this hydrogen to produce low-carbon fuels. The hydrogen will also be used to help other industries accelerate their process of decarbonisation. Shell has targeted becoming a net-zero enterprise by 2050. With respect to traditional fuels, the company plans to shrink their production by 55% by the end of this decade.

The Refhyne European consortium – one of the backers of the project – is made of Shell, ITM Power, research organisation SINTEF and consultants Sphera and Element Energy. It is hoped that the Refhyne project will help spearhead efforts to produce green hydrogen at a larger scale throughout Europe.

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