Improvements to Integrate High Pressure Alkaline electrolyzers for Electricity/H2 production from Renewable Energies to Balance the GRID

Framework Programme: 
Call for proposals: 
Application area: 
Hydrogen production & Distribution

Key Objectives of the project

ELYGRID Project aims at contributing to the reduction of the total cost of hydrogen produced via electrolysis coupled to renewable energy sources, mainly wind turbines, and focusing on megawatt size electrolyzers (from 0,5 MW and up). The objectives are to improve the efficiency related to the complete system by 20% and to reduce costs by 25%. The work will be structured in 3 different parts, namely: cell improvements, power electronics, and balance of plant (BOP). Two scalable prototype electrolyzers will be tested in facilities which allow feeding with renewable energies (photovoltaic and wind).


Challenges/issues addressed

The Scientific and Technological challenges are:

Define new operation conditions for improvements in performance and efficiency.
Increase the current density by a factor of two, maintaining the same diameter stack.
Identify technical improvements related to the Balance of Plant (BOP).
Re-design power electronics.
Identification of technological market and local value-chain suppliers.
Outreach, social awareness and promotion of alkaline electrolysis coupled with renewable energy sources through demonstration projects, field testing and integration.
Shed light on RCS aspects for electrolyzer technology to facilitate commercialization worldwide.
Comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies carried out according to the practice guidance developed by the FCH JTI.


Technical approach/objectives

ELYGRID project will pay particular attention to the improvement of cell efficiency and to the reduction of electricity consumption of the electrolysis module, without decreasing in so doing the productivity or increasing the component costs. ELYGRID project focuses on large electrolyzers, in the range of megawatts, in which the hydrogen produced is much more economical, by a factor of 3 related to the smaller ones. Basically, an electrolyzer is composed of 3 subsystems: cell, power electronics and balance of plant (BOP). Technical objectives can be resumed as:

  • Development of materials for membranes and electrodes for cell improvement, which will allow the electrolysis cell’s operation at increased temperatures and increased electrolyte concentrations.
  • New design of power electronics, to increase electrical efficiency at full and partial loads, allowing increasing density currents.
  • Cost reduction and optimization in Balance of Plant (BOP), as well as in operation and maintenance.
  • Field testing and monitoring of technology improvement.
  • Market preparation and Dissemination: The objective of this work package is to prepare the future commercialization of electrolyzers, taking into account all the technical results acquired in the rest of the activities.


Expected socio and economic impact. Achievements/Results to date

An unavoidable feature of renewable resources (for example, sun and wind) is that electricity generation cannot be fully forecasted and does not usually coincide with the demand curve. In addition, electricity from wind farms is highly variable. Enabling a certain storage capacity within the wind farms would help to reduce the gap between the generation and the demand curve, as well as damping abrupt variations of the wind power generation.

Given the widespread concern with climate change and sustainable development, hydrogen is expected to be one of the main energy carriers in the near future and hydrogen produced via Renewable Energy Sources (RES) is considered to be a relevant way to produce green hydrogen without CO2 emissions. More to the point, among the different technologies to produce hydrogen, only water electrolysis from renewable sources is 100% CO2 free, furthermore representing an actual competitor to fossil fuels in terms of technical viability and efficiency.

It is expected that the results will have a considerable impact beyond the geographical and time scopes of the project, contributing to advancing of renewable energies, especially wind energy. Application of the results should not only benefit the EU, but could specially contribute to soften the serious environmental problems coming from developing countries which need new clean energy technologies to supply the electricity needed to support their socio-economic development, compatible with the preservation of the environment.

The project activities will include an assessment of potential commercial possibilities, and the participation of industrial partners also will contribute to successful market exploitation of results.

Project reference: 
SP1-JTI-FCH.2010.2.1:Efficient alkaline Electrolysers
Project type: 
Research and technological development
Contract type: 
Collaborative Project
Start date: 
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
End date: 
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
36 months (originally), extended to 38 months
Project cost: 
€ 3.752.760
Project funding: 
€ 2.105.017

Fundación para el Desarrollo de las Nuevas Tecnologías del Hidrógeno en Aragón

Pable Marcuello
Other participating organisations: 
Participant organization name Country
Industrie Haute Technologie S.A. Switzeland
Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt (EMPA)                             Switzeland
HELION S.A.S. France
Forschungszentrum Juelich GmbH Germany
Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek N.V. (VITO) Belgium
Lapesa Grupo Empresarial Spain
Instrumentación y Componentes S.A. Spain
Ingeteam Power Technology S.A. Spain
Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives France
Ramchandra Bhandari*, Clemens A. Trudewind, Petra Zapp, Journal of Cleaner Production 22/07/2013, 151-163, "Life cycle assessment of hydrogen production via electrolysis - a review"