Shell has started operations to produce green hydrogen at what it said is the largest PEM hydrogen electrolyser in Europe.
The plant at Shell’s Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland is part of the Refhyne European consortium, and is backed by European Commission funding through the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.
Other members of the consortium backing the project are ITM Power, research organisation SINTEF, and consultants Sphera and Element Energy.
The electrolyser was manufactured by ITM power in Sheffield, UK, and includes parts made in Italy, Sweden, Spain and Germany.
Shell said plans are under way to expand capacity of the electrolyser from 10MW to 100MW at the Rheinland site, near Cologne.
The Rheinland electrolyser will use renewable electricity to produce up to 1300 tonnes of green hydrogen a year.
Shell downstream director Huibert Vigeveno said: “This project demonstrates a new kind of energy future and a model of lower-carbon energy production that can be replicated worldwide,” at today’s official opening ceremony.
“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.”
Shell also intends to produce sustainable aviation fuel using renewable power and biomass in the future at the plant.
A plant for liquefied renewable natural gas is also in development.
North Rhine-Westphalia minister-president Armin Laschetsaid: “We are a hydrogen region. With the commissioning of the largest PEM electrolysis plant in Europe, we are further expanding our leading role in this field.
“We are therefore laying the foundation for a modern and green industry, with highly skilled jobs.
“Today, 30% of German demand for hydrogen already comes from North Rhine-Westphalia’s industry. Estimates predict that demand will double by 2030.
“This is why we need innovative solutions that will meet the demand for CO₂-neutral hydrogen. Projects such as Refhyne demonstrate how innovation can benefit both the environment and the economy.