The Hydrogen Stream: A fuel cell gigafactory in the US and new plans from Australia

U.S. hydrogen solutions company Plug Power opened, this week, its green hydrogen and fuel cell gigafactory in New York state. In Australia, Patriot Energy announced a supply agreement for 75 modular green hydrogen generation units, and ARENA said it will play a key role in the development and delivery of the German-Australian Hydrogen Innovation and Technology Incubator.

U.S. hydrogen solutions company Plug Power opened its green hydrogen and fuel cell gigafactory in Rochester, New York state. “This is New York’s first and largest fuel cell and electrolyzer manufacturing gigafactory,” wrote the company. This week, Plug Power completed the acquisition of Applied Cryo Technologies, a provider of technology, equipment and services for the transportation, storage and distribution of liquefied hydrogen and other cryogenic gases. Last month, the American company signed a memorandum of understanding with French renewable hydrogen startup Lhyfe to jointly develop green hydrogen generation plants in Europe.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency(ARENA) yesterday announced it will play a key role in the development of the German-Australian Hydrogen Innovation and Technology Incubator known as HyGate. ARENA is already working on funding, together with Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, or BMBF). “ARENA and BMBF aim to open the funding initiative in the first quarter of 2022,” wrote the Australian public body today. HyGate is expected to support pilot, trial, demonstration, and research projects along the hydrogen supply chain. The aim is to progress renewable hydrogen towards commercialization. Australia and Germany have committed up to AU$50 million (€32.2 million) and €50 million, respectively, for new renewable hydrogen projects.

Solar and sustainability

Via the UP Initiative, pv magazine is diving deep into the topic of what it means to be truly sustainable in the solar industry; looking at what is already being done, and discussing areas for improvement. Quarterly themes have thus far covered the use of lead in solar, raw material sourcing for batteries, green finance, circular manufacturing, PV module recycling, agriPV, and workers’ rights. Contact up@pv-magazine.com to learn more.

Melbourne-based renewables company Patriot Hydrogen has signed a memorandum of understanding with Western Australia’s Kimberley Clean Energy (KCE) to supply 75 of Patriot’s P2H (power-to-hydrogen) modular power generation units. “These units will support KCE’s plans to develop baseload renewable energy, green hydrogen and fertilizer, to support a cleaner future for the Kimberley region,” Patriot Hydrogen said this month.

Western Australia’s lands minister, Tony Buti, has proposed changes to the Land Administration Act to introduce a new, more flexible form of land tenure for unallocated crown and pastoral land. “The changes mean WA [Western Australia] will be better placed to leverage opportunities in the rapidly-growing renewable energy sector which requires large areas of land for operations like carbon farming, wind farms, solar energy and hydrogen production,” the government of Western Australia wrote last week.

Business leaders and officials from Europe and Africa have been meeting online for the Accelerating Green Hydrogen Economy, Production & Exports in Africa event. According to social media updates, the focus is currently on South African energy company Sasol and the export potential of Namibia, which a German official has reportedly forecast will become the cheapest place in the world to produce green hydrogen – at an estimated €1.50-2/kg). Presentations have also focused on the role of North Africa with collaboration between Morocco and Mauritania for the production of fertilizers and raw materials cited as an example of possible hydrogen usage in the continent.

The Centrale Electrique de l’Ouest Guyanais (CEOG) multi-megawatt scale power plant in French Guiana has selected Spain’s Jema Energy to supply two 2 MW converters. “For this, the same topology as the IBX6 PV/battery inverter has been used,” wrote the Basque company, referring to one of its products. “However, all the DC protections have been modified to adapt it to the behavior of a hydrogen battery. In addition, the IBX6 inverter is adapted to the grid code requirements of the Enedis off-grid zones, allowing it to operate at very low frequencies, such as 44 Hz,” added Jema, with reference to French state-controlled electric utility Enedis, formerly ERDF. According to Jema, the CEOG project is “the largest renewable hydrogen power plant project in the world.”

The Communauté de Communes Les Sorgues du Comtat and Monteux-based renewable electricity and hydrogen business Hynoé have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a territorial initiative to produce and distribute renewable hydrogen in the Avignon urban area. “The hydrogen produced will be used for the local decarbonization of collective mobility [and] household waste collection and will offer a clean fuel solution to the numerous transport [and] logistics companies present in the area,” Hynoé wrote yesterday. The project will be developed in several phases, to produce at least 400kg of hydrogen per day by the end of 2024.

UK’s biggest electrolyzer

The U.K. government has awarded £9.4 million (€11.2 million) for a hydrogen project at ScottishPower’s Whitelee Windfarm, near Glasgow. Whitelee is the U.K.’s largest onshore wind farm. “The £9.4 million cash boost will see the Whitelee green hydrogen project develop the U.K.’s largest electrolyzer,” wrote the U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy yesterday. The project is being developed by Sheffield-based energy storage and clean fuel company ITM Power and Anglo-Irish-owned, Surrey-based industrial gas business BOC, in conjunction with the hydrogen division of Spanish-owned utility ScottishPower. The facility is expected to be able to produce 2.5-4 tons of hydrogen per day.

Italian heating and gas metering company SIT, via subsidiary Metersit, has secured EU certification for a fully hydrogen-compatible residential meter, a world first, according to the Padova-based business. “The certification, issued by the notified body, NMi Certin B.V., is valid in Europe and the U.K., as well as other, non-EU countries, and guarantees the accuracy and reliability of the measuring instrument (the meter),” SIT said yesterday. Chief executive Federico de’ Stefani said: “After the satisfaction of seeing our products installed in … hydrogen houses in the U.K. and exhibited at [climate change summit] COP26, we are proud to obtain this certification for our 100% hydrogen meter, which allows us to move from a test phase to a production phase. In the hydrogen supply chain, residential use is, in fact, the only one ready to be employed. In this sense, SIT is ready with certified products which, once the generation and transport of hydrogen become available, will make it possible to use this alternative gas in full compliance with our corporate and sustainability mission.”

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