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Hydro-gen hydrogen: collaboration to see green gas production from hydropower

Wednesday, 04 August 2021

On 29 July 2021, German multinational MAN Energy Solutions and Hydropower systems supplier ANDRITZ Hydro agreed to a strategic framework which should see the development of international projects to produce green hydrogen from hydropower.

The partnership intends to take advantage of the German Federal Government's support of Hydrogen via the H2 Global initiative, which promotes the funding of green hydrogen and power-to-X products. Overseas projects are also eligible for funding, provided that the project will result in sustainable hydrogen supplied to Germany and the EU.

Frank Mette: “Hydropower is one of the few completely climate-neutral forms of energy, which is capable of providing base load power. We therefore see excellent potential for worldwide expansion – in new construction projects just as much as in repowering. By adding the possibility of producing hydrogen to hydropower plants, we are taking the next step and also making the energy generated there ready for export and storage without restriction. Together with MAN Energy Solutions, we can open up new markets and opportunities for the operators.”

Uwe Lauber: “The economy of the future will be climate-neutral, and to achieve this it needs huge quantities of green hydrogen. Together with ANDRITZ Hydro, we want to make this resource available. Hydropower plants are ideal for generating hydrogen in a completely climate-neutral, reliable and cost-effective manner. With ANDRITZ Hydro, we have been able to enter into a partnership with a world leader in the field of hydraulic power generation, to develop these prospects together with us.”

A pilot project will mark the start of the collaboration, with an electrolyser capacity of 4 MWh. The project should be operational before the end of the year, and is expected to provide 650 tonnes of green hydrogen for local use in 2021.

The electrolysis equipment will be supplied by H-TEC Systems, which is owned by MAN Energy Solutions. The H-TEC Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) technology for hydrogen production already sees extensive use in industry in both the Bavaria and Schleswig-Holstein states in Germany.

Green Hydrogen - Hydro versus Wind

Greenfact has previously reported on a number of electrolyser projects this year, mostly associated with North Sea Wind installations (for example UK, the Netherlands). Both wind and hydro technologies are capable of the scale electricity generation required for high capacity hydrogen production.

Wind has perhaps better synergy with hydrogen production and electrolysis - the power-to-X aspect allows electricity to effectively be stored as hydrogen. This can be crucial for periods of excess electricity generation. While this also applies to hydro, these stations are often already associated with pump storage.

Furthermore, the benefits of hydrogen production associated with wind generation can be used to promote future wind developments, where as most hydro plants are already well established.

Power-to-X and Guarantees of Origin

Guarantees of Origin (GOs) will play a crucial role in verifying that the power used to produce hydrogen or other products has been sourced and generated sustainably.

This is a key consideration of the Renewable Gas Trade Centre in Europe (REGATRACE) project, with Work Package 4 addressing this. In March this year, a REGATRACE workshop on GOs and energy conversion was held - the presentations can be found here, and the outcomes and summary will be made available in September.

On a related note Danish Transmission System Operator (TSO) Energinet, who also administer both the national electricity and gas GO registers, have been working on Project Origin for the past few years, with external testing of the system taking place in late 2020.

The main concept of the project is allow tracking of the origin of electricity down to the hour (see here for more info on tracking systems with higher time resolution). Energinet sees this not only as a win for savvy consumers but as necessary for the credibility and acceptance of power-to-X solutions.


MAN Energy Solutions press release