Hydrogen Electrolysis Project Supply and Demand: Hydrogen Electrolysis to Become Flexible in Japan

From Dominik Stephan |

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Electrolysis is said to be particularly good at load control and can therefore respond flexibly to fluctuating energy flows. But it's not quite that simple: a pilot project is being launched in Japan to test flexible hydrogen production.

The alkaline water electrolysis plant will be constructed at the Fukushima Hydrogen Research Field in Namie, Futaba, Fukushima, Japan.
The alkaline water electrolysis plant will be constructed at the Fukushima Hydrogen Research Field in Namie, Futaba, Fukushima, Japan.
(Source: FH2R)

The problem is well known: Electricity generation using wind power or photovoltaics fluctuates considerably with wind and solar radiation. Load control, i.e. the ramping up and down of production processes depending on the energy supply, is therefore of particular interest when it comes to "green" production processes of the future. Unfortunately, many established processes find this difficult: furnaces, burners or reactors cannot simply be throttled back without production collapsing or creating undesirable byproducts. Electrochemistry is different: Here, plants can be comparatively easily turned on or off or supplied with more or less energy - even if, of course, they must not fall below a certain capacity utilization for economic operation.

In order to test flexible hydrogen production with fluctuating energy supply, Asahi Kasei in Japan is building a modular alkaline water electrolysis plant. The plant consists of several Aqualizer electrolyzer modules and will conduct test runs in terms of responsiveness to power fluctuations and long-term durability. Up to four 0.8 MW electrolysers can be used, and depending on the number of modules, the system's behavior can be simulated under different conditions - for example, if a module fails during operation or operates at low power at night.

This facilitates review and improvement of equipment design, operating methods and control technology, project developers explain. Construction and operation of the plant are supported by the Green Innovation Fund and Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

For Asahi Kasei, a company that is one of the leading players in the field of chlor-alkali electrolysis, hydrogen is one of the central growth areas of the new management plan. The Japanese company can draw on more than four decades of experience with electrolysis processes from chlorine chemistry.

Hydrogen Projects of 2022
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Since 2020, a NEDO-led project has also been testing a 10-MW-scale alkaline water electrolysis system at the Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field, one of the largest of its kind in the world. The knowledge gained is expected to result in a commercial alkaline electrolysis system with 10-MW modules by 2025.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)


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