Hydrogen is an increasingly attractive power source to fuel the green energy transition and demand for green hydrogen – whose production creates no CO2 – is expected to rise significantly. It is needed for fuel cells and hydrogen engines, for the production of synthetic drop-in fuels, and for industrial processes that currently use hydrogen that is not created in a carbon neutral process. Consequently, high-performance electrolysers are a key component of any hydrogen system.
Dr. Otto Preiss, COO and Chief Technology Officer, Rolls-Royce Power Systems, said: “By developing our own mtu electrolysers and by taking a majority stake in Hoeller Electrolyzers, we are methodically growing our hydrogen portfolio and securing access to this fascinating technology, which is not a pipe dream but has great market potential. This will enable us to supply complete hydrogen solutions and make a significant contribution to protecting the climate. Our complete hydrogen solutions will enable customers to store renewably produced energy in the form of hydrogen for use as and when required, or for further processing or onward sale.”
In hydrogen electrolysis, water is subjected to DC electrical current, producing hydrogen at the negative pole and oxygen at the positive pole. In this way, it is possible to produce carbon-neutral hydrogen by using electricity from renewable sources such as solar or wind. The electrochemical reaction takes place in a cell between plate-shaped electrodes separated by membranes. Hundreds of cells located one above the other and pressed together form a stack, the heart of an electrolyser.
Stefan Höller, Managing Director, Hoeller Electrolyzer, said: “Our stack is going to produce hydrogen at a price not previously thought possible.”
Rolls-Royce and Hoeller Electrolyzer are united by a shared belief in the opportunity of zero-carbon energy – both for power supply and the propulsion of heavy vehicles. With decades of experience and systems expertise, Rolls-Royce is going to develop a complete electrolyser system and has a global sales and service network, which opens up the potential for significant worldwide sales.
Matthias Kramer, CFO and Joint Managing Director, Hoeller Electrolyzer, said: “In Rolls-Royce, not only have we found an important customer for our stacks, we have also secured an ideal partner and supporter who shares our vision of putting stacks into full production.”
Development work on the first mtu electrolyser using a stack from Hoeller Electrolyzer is already underway. In 2023, it will go into operation at the Validation Center in Friedrichshafen, Germany, to demonstrate how an electrolyser fits into the overall architecture of a microgrid. An initial customer project is already planned for 2024.
Armin Fürderer, who heads up the Net Zero Solutions business unit of Power Systems, said: “We are going to launch electrolysers with several megawatts of power right from the start. A total output of over 100 MW is conceivable by combining several electrolysers.”
The equity in Hoeller Electrolyzer now held by Rolls-Royce comes from departing minority shareholders and from an increase in share capital. Financial details of the transaction are not being disclosed. Stefan Höller and Matthias Kramer will continue to lead Hoeller Electrolyzer as a standalone company, with the goal of building a leading international stack manufacturer.