Green hydrogen made via electrolysis – a process of using electricity from renewable sources to split water into hydrogen and oxygen – is widely considered an important energy vector for achieving a low carbon future. It does, however, pose significant challenges in the way of high production costs and energy intensive processes.
According to the Green Hydrogen Catapult, a global initiative made up of leading energy companies, to scale up production capacity to the 50 times needed, the cost to produce green hydrogen needs to drop by 50% to less than US$2/kg by 2026.
ABB’s OPTIMAX supports this by serving every aspect of a hydrogen plant lifecycle, from simulation at design and engineering phases to real-time visualisation and monitoring when in operation. The software measures bi-directional power flows and carbon dioxide emissions providing contextual data which operators can use to determine optimal energy consumption levels required to support plant processes and minimise waste.
The transparency offered by the solution can also be applied to increase the efficiency and safety of each electrolyser module being operated within the plant, regulating each module’s speed, and ensuring it is only used as and when required.
“Scaling up green hydrogen production requires significant capital investment as well as high operating costs,” said Sleman Saliba, Global Product Manager Energy Management for ABB Process Automation. “Nearly 70% of the total operating costs to run a hydrogen plant comes from the electricity needed to split the water molecule in the electrolysis process. With OPTIMAX, for between 1 – 3% technology investment, operators can run their industrial processes in the most energy efficient way and gain up to 20% reduction in electricity-based costs.”
Incorporating intra-day planning, operators can utilise OPTIMAX to plan ahead to trade competitively with the grid, developing a circular energy system that is based on forecasts of renewable energy availability against demand, also considering market electricity prices.
The solution can be used to optimise green hydrogen integration with existing hydrogen networks and any future infrastructure that may be developed.