Water electrolysis is starting to make inroads into the refinery sector. Shell has revealed plans for the construction of a 10-megawatt electrolyzer at its Wesseling refinery site in Germany. The project, called Refhyne, is supported with EUR 10 million in funds from the EU’s Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking. It will see British manufacturer ITM Power forging ahead with the design of a system having more capacity than any other in the world.
By steam-reforming natural gas, Shell’s Rheinland Refinery produces around 180,000 tons of hydrogen per year. The quantity that will be generated through electrolysis is said to be going into, for example, petroleum processing. The Refhyne plant is scheduled to come online in 2020.
Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power, said: “Decarbonizing hydrogen production in the chemical and refining industries worldwide is potentially a very large market. This pioneering project with Shell aims to demonstrate what can be achieved using our industrial-scale electrolyzers, which can also use low-cost renewable energy and help to balance electricity grids.”
Tudor Constantinescu, principal adviser to the European Commission’s director general for energy, added that renewable power could help decarbonize the energy sector and, through sector integration, other carbon-intensive industries, such as refining. Considering the emission reduction and renewable energy targets of the Eureopean Commission, renewable hydrogen was certain to play a key role in the process.
Another company exploring the potential of renewable electrolysis is British Petroleum, called BP. In partnership with Uniper, it may set up a power-to-gas system for diesel production in Lingen, in the North German state of Lower Saxony. It has already signed the relevant cooperation agreement.